When you talk to people about Queenstown, often the first thing they’ll mention is some kind of adrenaline sport. It’s not surprising, seeing as Queenstown is commonly found in the same sentence as words like adventure, thrill seeker, adrenaline, junkie and other words that fill me with abject horror. To be honest, this did put me off visiting because all I’d ever heard about was bungee jumping, whitewater rafting, paragliding, or canyon swinging (P.S. what even is that?? Actually don’t tell me). However, on our recent trip I learned that there is much more to Queenstown than people throwing themselves off tall objects and I am here to share 8 things you can do in Queenstown that aren’t adventure sports.

Go to the Kiwi Birdlife Park

If you’re a fan of birds you will love this place. Even if you’re not that fussed about birds you’ll probably have a good time. This is a family run establishment and the caring nature of the staff really comes across. Plus, they have some rare and exciting birds like kiwi, kea and morepork.

[A kea, a type of parrot. Very endangered, very intelligent, and like eating rubber. As S’s shoe bears testament]

There are also some non-bird species, such as the tuatara which is notable as being a living fossil – they have three eyes, people! For geeky folk like me interested in biology and evolution you are in for a treat. New Zealand is such a unique environment that some pretty crazy stuff has evolved and the park does a good job of explaining those species that have survived and those that haven’t.

Go on a day trip

Queenstown is surrounded by natural beauty and we found one of the easiest ways to see a lot was to get out and about in our hire car (we used Go who were reasonably priced, efficient, and didn’t land us with any spurious charges which is always appreciated). Trips I would recommend:

Wanaka via Cardrona ¦¦ Take the wiggly route through the mountains for some jaw dropping scenery.

You can stop in Cardrona, where they have a charming hotel (pub) serving meals and drinks in a vintage setting. There’s a nice beer garden, too, which reminds me of beer gardens in the UK.

[Does what it says on the tin… Sorry couldn’t resist] 

In Wanaka, I recommend a walk along the lake and stopping in Alchemy, a cafe serving good food with decent gluten free options.

Arrowtown ¦¦ This is a cute little town within easy striking distance of Queenstown itself. It gets pretty busy at weekends so if you can go on a weekday I’d recommend it.

It’s good for a little wander around and then some food somewhere – the restaurants are a bit fancy (read: pricey) here so be prepared for that.

Glenorchy ¦¦ This is actually a fair drive, but it’s well worth it. The scenery around the lake is stunning.

[The drive to Glenorchy is a treat. Plan to stop and take photos on one/all of the pull-ins along the way]

We ate at the Glenorchy Lodge, one of very few eateries in Glenorchy. It was fine; they understood gluten free and that’s all I ask really.

Go on a lake cruise

There are party cruises and there are sedate cruises and there are cruises that go around looking at celebrities’ mansions. Pick your poison. Lake Wakatipu is so beautiful you’re guaranteed to have a good time.

Eat at Fergburger

Almost everyone who we spoke to about Queenstown recommended Fergburger. To be quite honest, my expectations were low, thinking it an overhyped product of the Lonely Planet generation. However! I figuratively ate my words when we braved the queue one overcast lunchtime (and the queue actually wasn’t even that bad). The burgers were genuinely tasty, with a gluten free bun that held itself together and tasted nice.

[I’m pretty sure I kept it simple with a Ferg Deluxe. Yummm]

Special mention goes to the chips which were delicious. Look, it’s not haute cuisine, and it’s not something to go crazy over. But it’s decent food and if the queue isn’t too bad I would say definitely go for it.

Visit some wineries

There are plenty to choose from. We visited the Peregrine Winery who carry a divine rosé, and tasted some of their other wines which were also delicious. The building is interesting, too; it’s been designed to ‘evoke the rotation of a falcon’s wing in flight’, so there’s that. We’re not actually too big on wine ourselves, but I have on good authority that Chard Farm and Amisfield are excellent wineries to visit, and Amisfield do a lunch that comes highly recommended.

Enjoy the local produce

I am a big fan of cheese, and I’m an especially big fan of the cheese from Gibbston Valley Cheesery. It’s a short drive outside of Queenstown and I had probably the best cheese of my life here. They’ve got all kinds of varieties and you can create your own tasting board. They happily cater for gluten free and can even ship cheese back home for you if you need them to. Which I might need them to.

Visit Milford Sound

This one is half cheating because some people would class going in a small 10-seater plane an adrenaline fuelled activity. Luckily I’m not one of them and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the sights of South Island from above.

[These mountains were used as the Misty Mountains when filming The Lord of the Rings trilogy]

I wrote a post about why we chose to fly to Milford Sound here, in case you’re interested. I hate when people say things are a ‘must do’ but in this case… this is kind of a must do. You don’t have to fly, but if you can manage to get to Milford Sound, you won’t regret it I promise.

Go for a walk

This sounds a bit trite but there are plenty of great walking tracks, hikes and boardwalks around Queenstown. Even a stroll along the edge of Lake Wakatipu can be pretty magical. There’s a variety of walks for all abilities so there should be something for everyone.

[There’s a lovely walk all along the shoreline of this picture. It’s particularly pretty at sunset]

Anyone else definitely not an adrenaline junkie?


Just in case you hadn’t guessed, none of this is sponsored 🙂 Linking up with the Wanderful Wednesday gals at their brand shiny new home – come and join us here. Also linking up with Erin, Clare, Corey, Hilary and Katy for Faraway Files

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If you're planning a trip to Queenstown but not so into adrenaline sports, I've got you covered. Here are 8 things you can do that are totally not scary!