Named the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’, there is no rest for the wicked (the kids). Now, we all know that having kids can certainly stretch those purse strings. If you’re concerned about a hole being burned into your wallet, fear not – we’ve listed some budget friendly experiences for the whole family to enjoy!
1) Ride up the Skyline Gondola and go luging
One of the first things many people spot when they get to Queenstown, is the Skyline Gondola. This is an epic experience to do with the kids. Children love the thrill of being in a cable car, looking down on the rest of the town as you ride up 450 metres to the base building. The most popular family activity once you reach the top is luge carting. With different level tracks, all you can hear from the top is people squealing with excitement as they whip around the corners and zoom through tunnels. Then you hop back on the chairlift and do it all again!
2) Zip lining
Now we all know that feeling of wanting to fly, and we couldn’t recommend more the ZipTrek Ecotours. They offer a variety of zip lining tours for all ages, and there isn’t anything quite like this aerial experience where you fly through the forest canopy of Bob’s Peak. Not only is it an adrenaline pumping activity, you will all also develop a new appreciation for Queenstown’s natural environment as the guides share facts and stories of the Southern Island bush and wildlife.
3) Explore the Kiwi Birdlife Park
Ever wanted to know why New Zealanders are called ‘Kiwis’? It’s a nickname which comes from a native bird called the Kiwi – the national symbol of New Zealand, a wee flightless but very curious bird that the Māori people hold a very strong connection to. It is extremely rare to see a Kiwi as they are endangered and nocturnal, so to be able to go and visit the Kiwi Birdlife Park right in the heart of Queenstown and support a family-owned business, that have made it their mission from the start to save this endangered bird, is very special experience.
4) Cycle the Lake Hayes Loop
Lake Hayes is a gorgeous lake surrounded by mountains, less than a 10 minute drive outside of Queenstown. A stunning loop track has been built around the lake and you’ll find many locals either walking, running or cycling around the track as part of their daily routine. A great budget friendly outdoor activity for the family to do together. You can hire bikes and make your way around the lake in an hour, or do the walk which takes approximately 2 hours. Visit the quaint and charming village of Arrowtown whilst you’re out that way – known for its historical buildings from back in the gold mining days, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a time capsule!
5) Glenorchy Animal Experience
Firstly, the drive to Glenorchy is one of the most iconic drives in the world. It has been featured in dozens of movies, documentaries and is a photographer’s dream – a must do! This family farm that has been running for over 100 years out in the small town of Glenorchy, opened up their property for visitors to go pat and feed their animals. From red deer, sheep, alpacas, llamas, KuneKune pigs, donkeys, turkeys, pewfowls, goats and many more – if you’re kids are animal crazy, this is the activity for them!
6) Picnic by the lake with a Ferg Burger
You may not have heard yet but Fergburger holds the longest standing title for Queenstown’s best burgers. It is also well known for its incredibly lengthy queues so we thought we would share a little secret with you. If you call them, order and then go pick up – it’s twice as fast! Wander down with your burgers to the lake front and find a spot to picnic. Sit back and relax as you soak in the panorama views of Lake Wakatipu, the botanical gardens and the bustling pier. There is also a playground at the end of the lake front for the younger ones to entertain themselves. You may even dare to dip your toes in but be warned, it’s cold!
7) Frisbee Golf in the botanical gardens
Frisbee golf, also known as ‘disc golf’ – haven’t heard of it? Neither had I before I came to Queenstown however apparently this game has been around for decades. Much like golf, there are 18 baskets placed around the Botanical Gardens and the aim is to stand on the ‘tee off’ and land your frisbee in the basket, before the rest of the family does. Not only is it a fun game to play all together but you’ll get to experience the beauty of the Queenstown Gardens. Many sports shops in town offer frisbee hire if you don’t have your own including Small Planet at $5 per disc for the day. An excellent choice for a family with a competitive streak!
8) Snow tube at the Snow Farm for some winter fun
For the winter lovers looking for a unique experience, this one is for you! A 40 minute drive from Queenstown is the Cardrona Valley in Wanaka. Here, you will find the Snow Farm which boasts a variety of alternative winter activities instead of skiing and snowboarding. You can snowshoe and access backcountry huts unavailable to the rest of the public. They also offer a ‘Snow Fun Zone’ for families which includes snow tubing. The tubing hill is a gentle slope best suited for younger children or those experiencing snow for the first time. Create some unforgettable memories as your kids discover the thrill of games in the snow.
9) Visit the Remarkables markets on a Saturday
This charming farmer’s market surrounded by the impressive Remarkables mountain range is the best local market Queenstown has to offer. With boutique stands, live music, food carts and benches and bean bags to sit out and bask in the sun – you will be spoiled with art work, fresh fruit and breads, homemade candles, natural products and so much more. Open every Saturday morning from October to April, it’s a wholesome and relaxing way to start your weekend.
10) Skim the Shotover River on a Jet Boat
Explore the wild rocky gorges and hidden canyons on an exhilarating speedy jet boat. Jet boating has been around Queenstown for years and it’s an experience for the thrill seekers, one that will leave you wide-eyed at the impressive backdrops and turquoise blues of the rivers. 45 kilometres at 95kph and 360 spins, will leave you on a high for the remainder of the day. The boat tours usually leave on the hour and last approximately 30 to 60 minutes. We highly recommend either the Shotover Jet or KJet.
Keep an eye on school holiday discounts too, lots of tourism companies offer discounts for kids. First Table is also an awesome way to dine out as a family with a 50% discount off food. The list of activities for families to enjoy together are endless, and the majority of them cater for all ages from as young as 2 years old.
We hope you have an absolute blast in Queenstown – the Peter Pan bubble where nobody wants to grow old and keep having fun. It’s infectious and addictive, you’ll be back!