For an amazing South Island family holiday experience, base yourself in Queenstown or in the surrounding Southern Lakes district in order to explore the wonders of the south west South Island. Indulge the family in this scenic holiday paradise, where Queenstown proudly (and justifiably) claims to be the “Adventure Capital of the World”. It is centrally located with access to the surrounding mountains, snowfields, glaciers, rivers, lakes, forests, and two of the four neighbouring parks (Mt Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park) that comprise the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.
There is a mind-blowing array of activities for the family: experience breathtaking snow capped mountains, lake scenery and national parks by foot, horse, mountain bike, 4WD or from the air. Crystal-clear lakes and rivers can be explored by jet boat, kayak, raft, bungy, or sledge. Try out some world class snow skiing or snowboarding from a number of different ski fields. The family could take a day trip to Arrowtown, Cromwell, Wanaka, or Glenorchy, and take a day (or two!) trip to Fiordland to experience the majesty and natural beauty of Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Lake Te Anau, and Lake Manapouri.
Queenstown is nestled on the banks of Lake Wakatipu in the lower South Island – 187km from Invercargill, 283km from Dunedin, and 486km from Christchurch. Northern based Mainlanders may prefer to fly to Queenstown, with daily direct flights from Christchurch.
North Islanders have the option of driving (remember to book the Ferry across Cook Strait!) or flying (with direct daily flights out of main centres). If you fly, then you’ll need to consider hiring either a car or campervan to get around the Queenstown district. There is a local bus service, though it isn’t terribly extensive – and the cost will soon add up for a family using this on a daily basis.
When should we go?
Queenstown is a tourism and adrenalin sports “hot spot”, so we recommend that you plan and book ahead for accommodation (and your preferred restaurants), particularly during all school holidays, the snow sports season and throughout the summer.
Each season of the year brings a different weather pattern in Queenstown, and as a result, many attractions are weather dependent. If there are any activities your family is particularly keen on, check they are running before booking your trip.
Average temperatures vary from 5 – 11°C in winter (conducive to snow skiing/snowboarding) to around 19 – 29°C in summer (which is much more conducive to water-related adventures).
Whether you are into walks, snow, adrenalin-pumping action, sightseeing, a combination of many different activities or a family day out – Queenstown has so much to offer for family fun and adventure.
We’ve separated “the Queenstown trip” into 3 articles:
Places to Go — a huge variety of attractions or things to do in and around Queenstown
Places to Eat — restaurants, cafes, some with entertainment
Places to Stay — accommodation for different budgets and lifestyles