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Queenstown is not only known for being the adventure capital of the world. It’s also known for being the perfect place to go on holiday with the family. There are so many things to do in Queenstown with kids of all ages, from cave exploring, to farm tours, horseback riding and watersports.
So, if you’re planning to go on holiday to New Zealand soon, make sure to include some of these fun activities in your Queenstown itinerary.
- Tips For Visiting Queenstown With Kids
- Skyline Gondola & Luge
- Cruise The Lake
- Walter Peak Farm Tour
- Jet Boating
- Paddleboard, Paddleboat, or Kayak
- Queenstown Gardens
- Feed The Ducks
- Wild Kiwi Encounter
- Te Anau Glow Worm Caves
- Milford Sound (8th Wonder of the World)
- Horseback Riding
- Central Otago Wineries
- Visit Wanaka & Arrowtown
- Queenstown Winter Activities
- Hiking Queenstown Hill
- Visit Lake Hayes
- More Ideas For Family Fun In Queenstown
- Where To Eat In Queenstown
Tips For Visiting Queenstown With Kids
Queenstown is a popular destination in New Zealand all year round simply because there is so much you can do! From exploring the Southern Alps to jet boating.
There is no bad time of year to visit with kids, yet the type of things you want to do in Queenstown may influence when you visit. Especially if you are planning to enjoy the many winter sports and activities in July and August.
When visiting Queenstown with kids, stay central if you do not have your own transport. You can easily get around on foot to many of these attractions. If you do have your own transport, enjoy the scenic drive into town.
We recommend the Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park for a budget-friendly cabin, caravan and campervan accommodation. It is a short walk into town and near to food and attractions.
It also helps to have a few wet weather activities in case the weather turns bad. Thankfully there are plenty of indoor activities in Queenstown for all ages to prevent the rainy day from ruining your fun.
Now let’s check out the best things to do in Queenstown with kids:
Skyline Gondola & Luge
It’s hard to miss the Queenstown cable car when you arrive in town, with the Skyline Gondola visible as it makes its way up and down the mountain. Enjoy panoramic views of Queenstown from above.
The Gondola is the steepest cable car in the Southern Hemisphere and totally kid-friendly!
It takes you 450 metres above Queenstown to the top of Bob’s Peak, with incredible views of Lake Wakatipu from the top.
It looks like a spaceship lit up at night, being so high above the town! It is the steepest cable car lift in New Zealand, higher than the Christchurch Gondola.
Then choose to ride the Skyline Gondola back to the bottom, or go for the ultimate Queenstown family activity by riding the Luge down instead!
The 800 metre luge track is suitable for all ages and will likely become a favourite experience for the kids (and you too!). If you’re feeling daring enough…
Cruise The Lake
For something a little more laidback, a scenic cruise is perfect! No matter what season you are visiting Queenstown, the TSS Earnslaw is a wonderful way to enjoy Lake Wakatipu.
The iconic steamboat will delight kids and is a peaceful way to get out on the water without having to get wet.
This is one of the most popular Queenstown water activities, no matter what season you visit. Plus the lake is located right near the town centre.
Plus you can combine your TSS Earnslaw steamship cruise with a farm visit!
Click here to book your TSS Earnslaw cruise
Walter Peak Farm Tour
New Zealand is known to be famous for its sheep, so why not go on a memorable trip to the Water Peak High Country Farm!
This tour gives you the opportunity to see and learn about the sheep shearing process on an active working farm. There’s also the opportunity to feed the animals and stroll through the lakeside gardens.
At the end of your visit, enjoy a delicious BBQ lunch or afternoon tea to keep the family fed and happy!
This is one of the best places to visit with young kids where they can enjoy meeting farm animals in this beautiful place for families fun.
Click here to book a TSS Earnshaw Cruise & Walter Peak High Country Farm Visit
If you want something a little more energetic and fast-paced, jet boating the Shotover River is a must-do Queenstown activity.
While not suitable for babies and toddlers, older kids and adults will love speeding around the lake and getting saturated on the Shotover Jet. The minimum age to ride the Shotover Jet boat tours is 3.
This is one of the top things to do in Queenstown and will certainly appeal to the adrenaline junkies!
Click here to book a Shotover River & Kawarau River Jet Boat Ride
For some grown-up adrenaline-pumping fun, why not do a Bungy jump or tandem skydiving during your stay in Queenstown? You won’t soon forget that experience!
Paddleboard, Paddleboat, or Kayak
What a fun way to spend a sunny day on Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown! What’s better than getting mesmerized by the beauty of the surroundings and the lake?
The whole family, especially the kids, will love having a day out to paddleboard, paddleboat, or kayak– and these family activities are suitable for all ages.
While you may not be as keen to do these Queenstown water sports in winter, it is a beautiful way to explore the lake and surrounding scenery, while getting a little exercise too!
Don’t miss Lake Tekapo if you are looking for more essential places to visit on the South Island
The Queenstown Gardens sit alongside Lake Wakatipu and offer several fun activities for families.
Enjoy a peaceful stroll through the gardens or compete against your family and friends at a game of Frisbee golf. This is a fun twist on golf using frisbees that the kids will love!
There is also an epic waterfront playground that we could barely drag our kids away from. There is play equipment for all ages, perfect to burn off some energy or work up an appetite.
The gardens are also home to the Queenstown Ice Arena where you can go Ice Skating or ride Ice Bumper Cars.
Feed The Ducks
This is one of the most simple things to do in Queenstown with kids, yet we had so much fun doing this.
You can purchase duck food at either the wharf area of the lake or within the Queenstown gardens. It is $2 for a bag of food and there is an honesty box set up.
The ducks are so used to people feeding them that you can hand-feed many of them. This was such a cool experience that we all loved.
Sometimes it’s the simple things that kids love best. Plus it’s a very cheap activity to do in Queenstown, which is known for being a somewhat expensive destination.
Wild Kiwi Encounter
New Zealand’s national bird is the Kiwi bird, however, there aren’t that many of them left in existence.
It’s also VERY difficult to spot them in the wild, as they are nocturnal.
The Kiwi Birdlife Park is a perfect, family-friendly activity to experience with the kids.
They will have the opportunity to see the flightless birds and learn about them and the conservation efforts to increase their population.
The Wild Kiwi Encounter Tour leaves from Oban daily in the evenings. You will need to make the short trip to Stewart Island for this tour.
Te Anau Glow Worm Caves
The kids will definitely love this one! The Te Anau Glow Worm Caves are located about 2.5 hours from Queenstown.
The adventure begins with a magical cruise across the Lake Te Anau, which is the largest lake found on the South Island. Then continues with the magnificent limestone caves that are home to the glow worms.
Your guide will give you information about the glow worms and the history of the cave, along with geological information and facts.
If you would like to expand your journey, add the short guided forest wall to learn about the region’s fauna and flora.
Click here to book your Te Anau Glow Worm Caves Tour
Milford Sound (8th Wonder of the World)
New Zealand is not only surreal in nature, but it’s also unbelievably beautiful. Milford Sound is no exception.
Milford Sound is home to an abundance of wildlife, mountainscapes and cascading waterfalls. And this is a day trip you should make time for when visiting New Zealand’s South Island!
There are a variety of activities that can be done, such as overnight cruises, nature cruises, and kayaking.
Or for something truly special, take a helicopter or small plane tour for the ultimate views!
There are also many great deals for children joining tours for free during certain times of the year.
We visited Milford Sound via a coach and cruise day trip with Jucy Cruises, leaving from Te Anau, however, you can also join the tour from Queenstown. It takes a bit longer to get there, making it a big day overall, but one you won’t soon forget!
Click here to book your Milford Sound day trip
For an authentic and relaxing backcountry experience, enjoy horse riding in Queenstown, with three spectacular locations to choose from.
Be prepared to be amazed by the picturesque sights, surrounding mountains and Lake Wakatipu. The best part is that horse riding is suitable for riders of all abilities, including beginners! This is a great family activity when visiting Queenstown with kids.
The three locations to choose from are Walter Peak, Dart Stables, and Ben Lomond Trekking.
Or head to Cardrona Valley for horse riding with views over Lake Wanaka and the Crowne Range.
Central Otago Wineries
There are more than 100 wineries near Queenstown making it a paradise for wine lovers. While taking a wine tour is not the most kid-friendly activity, if you have the time, it is worth stopping in to sample some of the local drops.
You can join a Central Otago Winery tour, or make your own way there with a hire car (or campervan). There is also a hop on hop off winery bus. This is a great way to see more of New Zealand too!
> We’ve put together a huge list of the best New Zealand winery tours
Or if you want to sample some local wines without leaving the heart of Queenstown, visit The Winery. Grab a charge card and glass, sample the wines of your choice and pay at the end. Such a cool concept!
This was definitely one of our favourite grown-up activities in Queenstown… and the kids enjoyed their organic apple juice while we sampled a couple of wines each.
Visit Wanaka & Arrowtown
If you are keen to explore beyond Queenstown, Wanaka and Arrowtown are both an easy drive.
In fact, you can visit them both in one day and enjoy what each has to offer.
Arrowtown is a historic gold mining town that will have you feeling like you’ve just stepped back in time.
The gold rush village is a great place to take a stroll down the main street and explore some of the shops and local cuisine.
Or visit the Lakes District Museum & Art Gallery to experience some local history and culture.
Try an Arrowtown & Gibbston Valley bike riding tour for something different.
Wanaka is much bigger, with a few fun attractions for the kids, such as Puzzling World. Here you can enjoy optical illusions, unique photo opportunities and a massive outdoor maze.
During the warmer months, they have many different water sports, cruises and activities on Lake Wanaka. You will also find many places to dine or enjoy a drink.
Queenstown Winter Activities
Winter is a popular time of year to visit Queenstown and you will find the city a hub of activity during the snow season.
The icy temperatures bring in bigger crowds, due to the proximity to some of the South Island’s best ski fields.
If you want to hit the ski fields, you can easily get to Coronet Peak, located just 20 minutes from town. Or head a little further out to The Remarkables Skifield, which is around 45 minutes from Queenstown.
There is also Cardrona and Treble Cone, giving plenty of options nearby.
Both offer ski lessons for kids and beginners, as well as plenty of fun for more experienced skiing and snowboarding.
For visiting with kids, if you just want to have fun in the snow without learning how to ski, there are a few cool places the kids will love. Our favourite was the Snow Farm NZ.
Here you can have a blast on the tubing hill. We all had a go and the kids loved it. They also offer snowshoeing tours and a few other family-friendly activities.
Hiking Queenstown Hill
If you have kids that love the great outdoors, hiking Queenstown Hill is a great option!
The Queenstown Hill Time Walk takes you on a 500-metre climb amongst pine trees to the summit of Te Tapu-nui, or the mountain of intense sacredness.
Along the track, there are info points explaining the different epochs of Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown.
At the summit, your efforts are rewarded with sweeping views of the surrounding scenery and some of the iconic Queenstown landmarks, including breathtaking views over Lake Wakatipu.
Why not pack a picnic in your backpack to enjoy lunch with a view!
Queenstown is home to many great hiking trails or mountain bike trails and it is easily one of the most popular things to do to enjoy the stunning scenery.
Visit Lake Hayes
A short drive from central Queenstown, you’ll find Lake Hayes. A serene location that’s ideal for a family picnic or afternoon walk.
It’s just 5 minutes from Arrowtown so you can easily make a day of Queenstown family activities!
The lake is encircled by a family-friendly walking track which is easy-going and suitable for all fitness levels. It will take 2 to 3 hours to complete the full circuit.
There are plenty of spots to throw down a picnic rug and enjoy time outdoors. Or take a kayak or paddleboard out onto the water.
In spring, the area surrounding Lake Hayes is a beautiful place to see native wildflowers in bloom. In winter you will have views of snow capped peaks.
RELATED READING: Family-friendly South Island walking tracks
More Ideas For Family Fun In Queenstown
Here are a few more Queenstown activities for keeping the family entertained when visiting Queenstown New Zealand as a family. These kid-friendly activities are sure to keep the whole family happy.
- Laser Tag Queenstown
- Game Over Queenstown
- Odyssey Sensory Maze
- Thrillzone Queenstown: Multiplayer Virtual Reality
- Ziplining With Ziptrek EcoTours (suitable for ages 6 and up)
- Indoor Paintless Paintball Game
- Augmented Reality Escape Game
- Lord of the Rings Full-Day Tour From Queenstown
- Take a 20 minute drive to Moke Lake
One Thing We Didn’t Enjoy In Queenstown
We decided to visit one of the ice bars in Queenstown during our visit and it was not an enjoyable experience. Firstly, it’s very overpriced.
Secondly, even with the cold weather gear they give you – a jacket and gloves, it was still really cold. We left after around 15 minutes as our youngest daughter was so cold.
The novelty of drinking from an ice glass and seeing the ice sculptures wears off quite quickly and while an ice bar might be fun with teenagers, it wasn’t really fun with kids.
Where To Eat In Queenstown
You will have no trouble finding somewhere great to dine in Queenstown, but be warned… during the busy seasons, be sure to book ahead when you can!
While you can’t book, you can phone your orders ahead and enjoy a famous burger at Fergburger. The lines are crazy long most of the time, although they move relatively quickly.
For drinks, snacks and coffee and baked goods visit the Ferg Bakery next door and Mrs Ferg, which faces Lake Wakatipu too.
The Cow offers an authentic Italian dining experience with a great atmosphere.
Speight’s Ale House was our favourite dinner in Queenstown. Here you can enjoy the full Speight’s Brewery range of beers on tap, along with hearty meals cooked to perfection!
For a sweet treat, Cookie Time is a cookie bar where you can get freshly baked cookies, milkshakes and other delicious ice cream desserts. Very popular but worth the wait!
Time to start planning your epic Queenstown itinerary with plenty of things to do for all ages! The hardest part will be finding enough time to do all the things you want to do during your stay.
Make sure you check out our ULTIMATE New Zealand bucket list!
For more help with planning your New Zealand trip, check out our 16 day South Island road trip itinerary and our guide to how much it actually costs to travel in New Zealand.