8 things to do in Queenstown that aren’t adrenaline sports

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

Pin me, fellow wimps:

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!



  1. 24th January 2018 / 11:57

    Wow, so much variety for those who aren’t adrenaline junkies (most of those activities listed, terrify me!)
    I’d be up for sampling those local cheeses and if course seeing those Milford Sound views, even if it is in a tiny plane – eek!

  2. 24th January 2018 / 23:43

    Wow I cannot wait to visit New Zealand it’s top of my list when we can leave Australia and be guaranteed to be let back in (August next year!!) I am not sure about that plane trip you took but then the view is spectacular. Love the wildlife in Australia and looks equally as good (read weird) in New Zealand!

  3. 24th January 2018 / 23:48

    Love your recommendations. Plus your pictures are awesome. I really have to make my way to NZ asap!!! #WonderfulWednesday

  4. 25th January 2018 / 00:40

    :raises hand: i am not an adrenaline junkie. this is right up my alley. give me all the wine and cheese of course. and that burger! holy smokes. also the day trip ideas sound lovely. walks are my fav too. all deadly!

    xoxo cheshire kat

  5. 25th January 2018 / 00:58

    That bird picture is lovely. The feathers are so crisp and clear and you can see the variations in the color. I’m definitely a fan. 🙂 The scenery would be my number one pick – wine tasting, boat cruise, driving, walking… all of those things seem like the best way to appreciate the natural beauty of the area!

  6. 25th January 2018 / 01:18

    Ooh I like the idea of visiting a bird life park! He’s such a pretty little guy! #WanderfulWednesday

  7. 25th January 2018 / 01:25

    Ha ha, loving your wimps guide to Queenstown! Totally my way of exploring an area. Who needs adrenaline sports, huh?! #wanderfulwednesday

  8. 25th January 2018 / 02:31

    This is great because I’m not into adrenaline sports very much. Beautiful pictures! #wanderfulwednesday

  9. 25th January 2018 / 02:51

    Oh the wineries… I could spend a significant of time just sampling those! Which I’d balance with the walks, of course 🙂

  10. 25th January 2018 / 02:51

    I love all this blue & green photography and you’re only convincing me more that I should go to Queenstown. Although I kiiiiiinda want to do the bungee jumping?!

  11. 25th January 2018 / 03:45

    My fiance and I are trying to decide where to go on our honeymoon and New Zealand has come up more than once. I’m totally like you, I am not a bungee jumping kind of person but I kinda want to go paragliding lol. I wanted to do it while in Cape Town but it was extremely windy while we were there so it wasn’t even an option. Milford Sound looks gorgeous and I always love a lake cruise!

  12. 25th January 2018 / 04:53

    I really like your suggestions, as I am not an adventure sports type át áll 😉 (I paraglided from Table Mountain though… but that’s the most adventurous I will ever get I think). Now wineries, cute birds and walks are more my thing!

  13. 25th January 2018 / 09:03

    I am not an adrenaline junkie, either. And the fact that I travel with kids most of the time makes suggestions like these all the more welcome. #weekendwanderlust

  14. Jen
    25th January 2018 / 13:32

    A lake cruise sounds absolutely amazing and something that I would love.

  15. Trudy
    25th January 2018 / 18:53

    So glad to see a guide of Queenstown that’s not all about adrenaline! There’s so much more to the area, it’s one of the most beautiful spots on earth. Milford Sound has been on my bucket list forever and I finally ticked it off a couple of years ago, but I want to go back and explore the Queenstown area more.

    Top tip: Someone told me you can pre-order Ferg’s Burgers online, and rock up to collect it without waiting in the queue. Totally what I will be doing when I go back, I don’t do waiting in queues for two hours!

  16. 25th January 2018 / 21:05

    This is a guide I could have used when we went to Queenstown years ago. I’m the biggest wimp of all. I’m really sad I didn’t know about the cheesery!

  17. 25th January 2018 / 22:46

    I’m definitely NOT an adrenaline junkie so these activities sound perfect for me! The plane ride looks absolutely amazing!! #FarawayFiles

  18. 26th January 2018 / 05:08

    I can’t wait to get back to this beautiful place someday! It’s hands down my favorite place I’ve traveled. Last time I partook in all the adventure activities so next time I want to drink some wine and take more walks! Pinned this 🙂 🙂 #WanderfulWednesday
    Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams

  19. 26th January 2018 / 06:47

    This is a great idea for a post, Rachel. I too had the image of Queenstown as some adrenaline junkie paradise so it’s good to know that there are so many other great reasons to visit. I’d love to go to New Zealand one day. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

  20. 26th January 2018 / 09:14

    I’m ashamed to say that I’m a kiwi who has never been to Queenstown! It’s always been on our list but for one reason or another, we never made it there… I’m not the biggest adrenalin junkie so you will definitely find me at Fergburger and those wineries! #farawayfiles

  21. 26th January 2018 / 12:32

    I’m a wannabe adrenaline junkie, but probably not to the extent required in Queenstown. A flight in a small plane over Milford Sound is probably my limit as well ! Beautiful pictures of a beautiful country. #farawayfiles

  22. 27th January 2018 / 14:02

    I could never go bungie jumping – ever! I like some adventure but nothing crazy. So, I recently went gluten-free and I’ve felt great but it’s hard! I like how you’ve scoped out all the gluten-free foods…it’s becoming more and more common for restaurants to have a section on their menu, thank god. Thanks for linking up with #faraway files

  23. 27th January 2018 / 14:49

    I am NOT an adrenaline girl so these suggestions are perfect! When we were in NZ we had one day where we went zorbing, 4wd-ing, go karting and a monster truck safari all in one day and I was sick with too much adrenaline by the end of the day 🤣

  24. 27th January 2018 / 16:17

    I would love the bird park and see some of the local exotic birds! That cheese board is also making me drool… charcuterie is seriously one of my favorite things to do ever. The natural scenery in Queenstown looks so beautiful that I wouldn’t mind just taking a walk whenever there’s nothing to do! And seeing Milford Sound by plane must have been an amazing experience!

  25. 31st January 2018 / 02:36

    Who needs buildings to jump off when you can go for a nice walk and follow it up with a great meal! Those views look sensational and Milford Sound is just wow!

  26. 31st January 2018 / 09:54

    So I definitely like to do adrenaline type of things, but the 8 things that you talked about I would totally want to do way more! I’m always down for visiting a winery and all of your pictures of your trip have already made me want a full on outdoorsy trip to Queenstown!

  27. 3rd February 2018 / 04:24

    Oh my gosh, I loved Queenstown, and I didn’t do any of those crazy adventure things when I was there! We used it as our home base to go exploring Doubtful Sound, Glenorchy, Arrowtown, and of course to go wine tasting. But I also loved the city itself and Nick and I still talk about Fergburger! I really am not a city person but there was just something about Queenstown that I loved. Nick and I have been debating whether to go back to New Zealand or to go somewhere new after his deployment and I’m leaning heavily towards going back to New Zealand.

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