The Best Tours in Queenstown
December 4, 2018
With so many tours available in Queenstown, it is hard to know which ones to choose! That’s why we wrote this blog, which outlines the best tours in Queenstown as well as includes important information to know before you go!
Best Tours in Queenstown
Queenstown is the ultimate tourist destination in New Zealand. With over 3 million visitors a year the list of things to do and see is practically endless. Whether you are a foodie, an adventurer, or a lover of photography, there is something for everyone in Queenstown.
Once you arrive in Queenstown you will quickly discover that you will need to decide on some tours to do while there. But what are the best tours in Queenstown? What type of tour should you go on? Well, in this blog I’m going to help you figure all of that out!
Over the past several months, Dan and I have been exploring Queenstown and all it has to offer. And with that comes joining many tours in and around the area. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many tours we’ve done around Queenstown because it is just too many to keep track of. But out of everything we’ve done, there are a few tours that stand out as fantastic experiences – ones that I will recommend to you in this blog, the best tours in Queenstown.
For those looking to get out and enjoy the beautiful landscapes in and around Queenstown, then a sightseeing tour is the way to go! They are often relaxing and enjoyable while still often offering lots of valuable information about the area.
There are two sightseeing tours we think are worthy of being part of the best tours in Queenstown
Scenic Cruise on Lake Wakatipu
Lake Wakatipu is as iconic as Queenstown itself and one of its biggest draw cards. As you cruise along the lakes calm waters you can begin to see Queenstown’s true beauty and stunning landscape. These tours only run for around 2 hours and are very well priced. Every visit to Queenstown should involve a scenic cruise on Lake Wakatipu
Dan and I have been on the Spirit of Queenstown Scenic cruise a couple of times now and always been impressed! Honestly, the views are just that breathtaking that you can’t get bored of them! The Southern Discoveries boat is also a little more comfortable, spacious and relaxing than the other scenic boat cruise options in Queenstown. They also have a snack bar and a real bar on the boat so you can have a coffee or a wine will enjoying the views!
Lord of the Rings Scenic Tour
If you are a fan of the Lord of the Rings movies, then you will likely already know that all three films were filmed in New Zealand, and many of the locations were in and around Queenstown! On a Lord of the Rings Scenic tour not only will you be taken to the iconic movie filming locations, but you will be rewarded with breathtaking views along the way!
When Dan and I joined this tour we had already lived in Queenstown for 6 months and we thought we’d seen it all. But after spending the day with Pure Glenorchy we realized that wasn’t true. On the tour, we were taken to places we had never been to before which was impressive seeing as we did a lot of exploring! It was also great to hear information about the Lord of Rings movies as well as so much information about the area in general. Our guide had an incredible amount of knowledge to share!
For more information, check out our blog all about the Lord of the Rings tour here!
Wine and Beer Tours
Dan and I love having a good drink or two – especially while on holidays! Queenstown really caters to those who want to get out of town a bit and explore beautiful vineyards and craft breweries, as well as sample a few (or many)!
There are two tours in particular we recommend if you are feeling a little bit thirsty…
Central Otago (the region that Queenstown is in) is known for producing some incredible wines despite its tricky climate and higher altitude. In fact, in this region, some of the best Pinot Noir in the world is produced! So if you love wine, then going on a wine tour is the perfect way to spend a day!
Dan and I love the Wine Sampler tour by Altitude Tours. The tour mixes the perfect amount of wine sampling, wine knowledge, as well as seeing some of the gorgeous Gibston Valley outside of Queenstown. Their tour vans are very luxurious and guide super helpful, friendly and knowledgeable. We highly recommend these guys!
For more information, check out our blog all about going on a wine tour in Queenstown!
If you are a beer lover more so than wine, there is also a tour for you! Small craft breweries have recently been popping up all over Queenstown creating this new “craft beer” scene in and around Queenstown! There has been no better time to get out and embrace this change and try some beer from the many microbreweries in town.
Brew Bus is fairly new to Queenstown, but there craft brewery tour is one of the best. Brew Bus takes visitors around to various different craft breweries in the area. Dan and I loved the personal nature of the tour, getting to see how the beer was made it each place, as well as all the views we got to take in along the way! Other beer tours in Queenstown come without a guide, however, brew buses guide was a very knowledgeable local whose stories went perfectly with the beer. One thing is for sure, we left the brew bus feeling nice and tipsy!
For more information on the beer tour, check out our blog here!
A Milford Sound tour is a must when visiting Queenstown and really goes without saying. For many, a day trip right from Queenstown is the best option. On these tours, you get bused to Milford Sound, enjoy a cruise, and then bused back. In 12 hours you can witness the 8th wonder of the world and be back in your hotel remising the experience. Regardless of the tour you choose, this experience will be amazing!
Southern Discoveries are one of the main companies in Milford Sound and offer a huge variety of tours. These include a scenic cruise, nature cruise; encounter nature cruise and kayaking tours. Some of their boats are also really small and only take few people meaning the tour is more personal and they can get closer to the waterfalls!
We have a ton of blogs about Milford Sound, be sure to check them all out!
Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand for the simple fact that if you want an “adrenaline-based” activity, it will be available in Queenstown! That being said, unless you have endless funds, you will simply not be able to do everything that is offered (adventure activities can be very expensive in Queenstown!) So, here are a couple adventure tours we would recommend spending your pennies on.
First and foremost is canyoning. If you want a thrill, but also a proper tour that lasts a few hours then canyoning is perfect. It is also one of the best value adventure tours in Queenstown!
Canyoning involves abseiling, zip-lining, cliff jumping and rocking climbing all in one! It can sound pretty crazy but with the right guides, canyoning is actually really safe. So if you’re looking for an exciting adventure activity canyoning is one of the best choices in town!
We joined Canyoning Queenstown not that long ago for their Queenstown canyoning trip, and boy were we impressed! The local guides were hilarious and knowledgeable and made us laugh all while feeling safe. The tour went for 4.5 hours and was a total experience from beginning to end. Everyone on the tour seemed to leave impressed, it easily deserves a spot on our list of the best tours in Queenstown and is actually our favourite tour to date!
For more information, read our blog all about our experience canyoning in Queenstown!
Jet boating is another great adventure tour in Queenstown. These tours run from 30 minutes to an hour and are a great way to explore Queenstown’s many rivers. Although this is an adventure sport, this tour really is for everyone. All you have to do is sit back and try to relax as your experienced driver takes you the ride of your life.
Our recommended tour: K Jet Queenstown
We loved the K Jet jet boating tour so much for a few reasons. One, is that it leaves right from town so there’s no hassle busing to and from another location. Their tour runs for 60 minutes which is one of the longest of the tour operators (many of the jet boats are very similar and all the different drivers know how to drive so location and time play a big part in picking the right one!) Another great thing with K Jet is you get free entry to their Underwater Observatory with the tour. Last time we were down there we saw an eel!
For more information, check out our blog all about jet boating in Queenstown!
In Queenstown, you can easily rent a bike from one of the many different bike rental companies in town and cycle your own path. There are famous cycle trails out to Lake Hayes and Frankton which are a good option. However, if you want something a little bit more off the beaten path and unique, you will have to jump on a cycle tour.
Station to Station Bike Trail
There is one tour, in particular, that takes you to the opposite side of Lake Wakatipu where you can cycle a remote bike trail. Basically, you will have the entire trail to yourself except for the farm animals that live nearby. On this cycle tour, you’ll be able to see some unique views that are not possible without getting there with a boat.
This tour will take you on a scenic boat cruise out to the Mount Nicholas Farm. From there, you get to take a self-guided cycle tour for 14 kilometres through some very beautiful and remote areas. At the end of the trail, you get another cruise (the TSS Earnslaw) back to Queenstown. We loved that this tour included scenic cruises and cycling all in one!
Best Tours in Queenstown
During any visit to Queenstown, you must embark on at least a few tours. Without the local knowledge and expertise tours bring, you will never get to know Queenstown’s true beauty. This can get pricey and with limited time and money so this list is here to help you make the choice that’s right for you to get the most out of your trip!
If you would like any more advice on the best tours in Queenston for you please reach out and we will be more than happy to help you!