10+ of the best Queenstown activities to do with kids
Queenstown is New Zealand’s South Island’s most famous city. With loads to do everywhere you turn, it can be overwhelming to start planning your family trip to Queenstown. Here are our top ten favorite activities in Queenstown, New Zealand with kids plus a few other ideas that we loved!
1. Skyline Gondola Ride
If you are visiting Queenstown with kids, then you won’t miss the gondola gliding up to Bob’s Peak some 480 meters above the city. Your kids will beg to go, you will look at the prices, and you will try to convince them that it isn’t that great.
Well, I’m here to tell you: “book the gondola!” In fact, click here to purchase the family pass. The gondola ride itself, while fun but slightly unremarkable, is nothing compared to the views at the top.
Plus, when you reach the top and marvel over the ledge at Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables, you can purchase yourself a drink or coffee at the mountaintop lounge and bar.
The littles can play in the toddler play area, you can purchase some mountaintop keepsakes, and then you can look with envy at the families careening down the side of the mountain on karts. Which leads me to the best thing to do in Queenstown with Kids –The Skyline Luge.
2. Skyline Luge
Giggling like a little kid, I skidded against the safety wall as my 9-year-old sped past me. The Skyline Luge lived up to every bit of hype we built up in our heads and more.
After you have your fill of gazing over the mountains and lake at the peak of the gondola, grab your helmet and take the chairlift higher up Bob’s Peak to the beginning of the luge track.
There you and your children will have a brief safety training, then fly down the side of the mountain twisting and turning on a track with brilliant vistas and stunning mountain views.
If it would have been up to me, I would not have booked the experience, but my husband, the one who keeps me dreaming and laughing, said we had to! I’m so glad he did. It was the best thing that we did in all of Queenstown that already had high standards to live up to!
You can purchase a single ride on the luge, but you will wish you had another. One trip down is simply not enough.
You can also purchase 3, 5, 6, and unlimited rides. While I would be quick to recommend unlimited rides, take into account that queues can get long in peak season. We were able to complete 5 rides in about an hour with no lines at all.
With lines, I could easily see how 5 rides could take up the entire day. Therefore, take into account the crowds before you book.
Further, Skyline Luge has done us all a great favor with family pricing. Our family saved more than $40 by simply booking as a family rather than purchasing individual passes. You can even purchase an annual pass if you plan to visit Queenstown often or are staying for awhile!
3. Queenstown Gardens Playground
When visiting Queenstown with kids, be sure to budget some time for Queenstown Gardens Playground.
Playgrounds are always a winner in our family with 3 small children. However, they earn loads of extra stars when they are waterfront, contained, alongside a café, and fun for all ages.
All of these criteria describe the Queenstown Gardens Playground where our children were begging to stay for hours, and we were happy to comply!
While Queenstown has other great playgrounds such as the Bay View Reserve Playground (another great place to hangout with kids), the Queenstown Gardens Playground is the only one that checked all of the boxes for our family.
Located next to The Boathouse restaurant (with café and bar), Queenstown Gardens Playground is divided into 3 distinct play areas for different ages and abilities.
You can even find lots of accessible play structures at the Queenstown Gardens Playground.
My husband and I were happy to pull up a waterfront bench with a cup of coffee to watch our children play in front of the lake and mountain backdrop.
Sometimes you don’t have to be entertained or guided to enjoy the sites. This free activity was a chance to watch the boaters, discern the different peaks in the distance, and even taste local flavors. Don’t discount time at a local playground as a great way to connect with a locale.
Then, when your children are finally done at the playground (or when you pry their fingers from the play structures), continue up the path to Queenstown Gardens.
4. Queenstown Gardens
If you want to continue your Queenstown adventure with kids while taking in the water views, then make time to take a walk through Queenstown Gardens.
This garden, not your average stuffy botanical preserve, is a rare mashup of trees, flora, and fauna from around the world. Marvel at an enormous sequoia, stand beneath a giant alder, or spot tadpoles under lily pads.
Watch the bees at work in the garden’s huge hive, watch the ducklings paddle through the ponds, or even listen to the strange sounds of rare New Zealand birds.
Our family was overwhelmed by all of the colors, sounds, and diversity in this beautiful garden. My children spent a solid 30 minutes just watching the lily pads, fish, and tadpoles move beneath a small garden bridge.
I couldn’t stop googling new and interesting flowers, plants, and trees that I had never seen before.
The garden is mesmerizing and sprawling, taking up a large chunk of Queenstown’s lakefront. Best of all, unlike the other real estate along Queenstown’s pricey lakefront, this gem is free to the public and requires no entry pass, ticket, or pre-booking!
I recommend bringing a blanket, a picnic lunch, and perhaps some binoculars to really experience this garden.
5. Waterfront Walkway
You won’t visit Queenstown without taking at least a short stroll along the waterfront walkway.
Unlike so many other lakes and tourist towns, Queenstown does not reserve its most precious natural beauty for the wealthy or private landowners.
Instead, nearly the entirety of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown is open to the public and lined with a public sidewalk.
Even just a modest walk at one side of the lake will leave you with so many different vistas. Take time to walk from one side of the marina to the other, or walk to the edge of the gardens where you can experience a nearly 280 degree view of water and mountain expanse.
Plan to spend at least 2 hours walking the waterfront taking selfies, skipping rocks, and marveling along the way.
6. TSS Earnslaw and Walter Peak Farm Experience
One of the most iconic sites as you descend upon Queenstown and its beautiful marina is the TSS Earnslaw –a steamship that has graced Lake Wakatipu for more than 100 years.
This impressive steamship is a great family activity not only because your children will beg you to take them on it, but because it is a guided Lake tour.
This steamship has been good enough for the Queen of England and an American president. However, its voyage is also great for your family.
The TSS Earnslaw and farm experience was our favorite day trip in Queenstown, and we have a full review of our experience here.
If you want to see the lake, experience the flora, fauna, and robust biodiversity of the lake, then book a ride on the big and beautiful TSS Earnslaw.
No trip to Queenstown with kids and the whole family is complete without a stop at Fergberger.
Fergberger is an international sensation kept local. Mind Food calls it a worldwide gastro-phenomenon. The world is talking about these burgers, but they can only be found in New Zealand, and Queenstown is its homebase.
Although Queenstown does also boast the only South Island Wahlburgers, you can’t skip Fergberger even if it does have a line around the block.
Our family had Fergberger on our New Zealand list, so we knew that we wanted to prioritize it. However, it not only lived up to but exceeded expectations.
Fergberger serves up giant (as big as your head) burgers made from pure New Zealand beef. Then they smother them in toppings like pineapple, bacon, cheese, avo, and more. Finally, they are served on enormous, fresh store-made buns that are a treat in and of themselves.
Avoid the Fergburger Lines
The Queenstown shop often has long lines during peak season, but Fergberger accepts call aheads and posts which orders are ready online. When your order is up, you simply present yourself at the call ahead counter and avoid waiting in the long queues for your delicious burger.
On our first trip our family had the Mr. Big Stuff, the Tropical Swine, the double with cheese, and an order of fries. It more than fed all of us to the breaking point and was well worth the price.
If you still need a drink or a dessert, skip next door to Fergbar for a drink or Fergbaker for their delicious croissants.
But, if you need some time to digest, make sure to return to the Queenstown lakefront or Mrs. Ferg for the famous gelato.
8. Gelato or Ice Cream
It seems that none of our family adventures are quite complete without some ice cream. Believe it or not, New Zealand is famous for its ice cream, and you can find some of the best in Queenstown.
You don’t have to visit New Zealand for long to notice cows, cows, and more cows mixed in with the famous New Zealand sheep. And, Mrs. Ferg, along with other Queenstown gelato stops, pride themselves on sourcing ingredients locally.
You can find loads of fresh gelato shops along the Queenstown lakefront with your kids, but we do highly recommend Mrs. Ferg’s for fresh, locally-sourced, delicious gelato.
The Ferg name has become so synonymous with quality that you won’t go wrong with any of their baked goods or gelato!
However, after you have ridden the Luge, walked through the parks, explored the gardens, and played on the playground, you and your children will be ready for a treat. Queenstown gelato or ice cream is a great way to enjoy a treat in a storybook setting.
9. Frisbee Golf
Embrace nature and your competitive side in New Zealand’s arguably most beautiful disc golf course in Queenstown with kids.
Beware flying discs as you walk through Queenstown Gardens. Families, crews of college students, bird watchers, and more are enjoying a day of fun at this disc golf course.
The course starts in Queenstown Gardens and wraps around the point until its culmination 18 holes later back to the parking lot!
To be honest, Queenstown can be quite expensive for families. Frisbee golf is a free and easy way to keep the fun going, enjoy nature, but still have a great time!
10. Kayaking, Ice Skating, Tennis, Croquet, Golf, and More
My tenth recommendation for visiting Queenstown with kids is to rent or bring a kayak and head out onto the water or enjoy the local sports.
If it is too cold, take the family ice skating and enjoy a turn around the rink.
If you prefer sun and physical activity, choose to book a tennis game at the Queenstown Gardens tennis club, a croquet game, or even a round of golf.
Queenstown has so many family-friendly activities and sports you can do together. If one doesn’t fit you, then you will certainly find another.
Don’t like running? Try croquet. Don’t like swatting clubs and racquets? Rent a bike, skates, or even a boat.
Queenstown, New Zealand with Kids
Pristine, untouched beauty coupled with a commitment to preserving it for generations to come result in a city that is not only open to families but caters to creating quality family moments.
Queenstown has taken its vow to homeland very seriously. And while you can find luxury goods and 5th Avenue boutiques, the natural beauty of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains are available to the whole family.
Taking your family to Queenstown is a great way to spend a day or even a week. From wild, mountain adventures, to local gastronomy, you can find loads to do with kids in Queenstown.
Further, Queenstown is a great, natural hub for exploring lots of the South Island and an easy place to start some day trips.
Popular Quick Trip Ideas from Queenstown with Kids
Not only is Queenstown great for the whole family, but it is a great hub for exploring the South Island.
Some of our favorite spots a quick drive from Queenstown include:
Mt. Cook and Hooker Valley Track – a mostly flat track leading to Mueller glacier.
Arrowtown – a quaint and historical town complete with a famous, enormous candy store!
Cardrona – while renowned as a ski destination, this adorable oasis is home of the famous Cardrona Hotel. Built in 1863, this hotel is cute enough to make it a destination stay or even just a place to grab a delicious hot cup of coffee.
Glenorchy – A town at the end of the road, this quaint NZ town is known for its amazing views and being the site of several of the most famous Lord of the Rings shots.
Routeburn Track – Routeburn Track is one of the most famous multi-day hikes in NZ as it winds under waterfalls and through lush forests. However, you can find several other trekking options from the same carpark appropriate for all ages and abilities.
Milford Sound – about a 5 hour drive from Queenstown (or a bus ride to save your sanity), is Milford Sound. A beautiful and largely-untouched animal playground, the fiords of the South Island are brimming with wildlife including dolphins, seals, penguins, and more.