Splurge or budget in Queenstown

View of Lake Wakatipu from Bob’s Peak

From my bedroom window I have a view over Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, New Zealand. It doesn’t get much better than a sunny day here in this part of the world and somehow we’ve had sunny days ever since we arrived. I’ve been here now two weeks. Of course everyone knows Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world but I’ve been here now two years in a row and have hardly spent a cent either time. It’s helped I have friends to stay with but there are plenty of budget options for those more conscious of their purse strings.

Whatever your budget however there are plenty of fun, exhilerating activities and I’ve listed three budget and three splurge ones to give you an idea to plan your own trip.



Bungy jumper from Kawarau Bridge

One, two, three bungy!!! This must be the most pant-wetting, expensive and exhilerating thrill around Queenstown. It’s also an old favourite and there are a number of places you can go. The Kawarau Bridge site on the road to Cromwell is the original spot of bungy and still very popular but has been surpassed by the heights of the Skyline Bungy on Bob’s Peak and the Nevis Arc and Skyswing further along the Kawarau Bridge road. It will set you back $100-200.

Jetboat or rafting

For thrills and spills at breakneck speed book yourself onto the Shotover jetboat or the Kawarau River jetboat trip from Queenstown. Both sections of river can also be rafted and offer plenty of opportunities for some hollering and hoo-haaing. A fun day!

TSS Earnslaw

Take a steamship cruise in 19th Century style on board the only remaining coal fired passenger vessel in the southern hemisphere. The trusty Earnslaw trudges out of the Queenstown harbour every day for $48 for a 1.5 hour cruise over to Walter Peak station. There are extended options but the basic one includes a quick look around the farm.


Trek in the Remarkables

Light filtering onto the Remarkables

You will see the gorgeous Remarkables mountain range the moment you arrive in Queenstown. Stretching beyond the township of Frankton, this is one of the premier ski fields in winter but in summer the perfect place for alpine hiking. You might need a car to get there, it’s 10km or so beyond Queenstown and the access road is a bumpy 14km challenging climb. You can bike the road but it might not be a lot of fun. Near the skifield base you set out for pretty Lake Alta, a 45 minute trek through alpine grass and flowers to a spot just below double cone, the highest peak. They filmed a scene from Lord of the Rings up here – come up to work out which one!  This could also be a splurge activity if you fancy a helicopter ride up here.
Rent a bike in town ($50/day) and head out to Arrowtown (20km) to access the 4WD route to Macetown. The region around Queenstown attracted a lot of gold miners in the 19th Century and Macetown is one of the more isolated spots that a community once developed. Today it’s some 20 river crossings up stream along the Arrow River and a reasonably challenging mountain bike route. It should take 2-3 hours each way and you can access old cottages, stores and machinery that has been recently restored. The scenery is suitably gorgeous and the first crossing on the river was also used in Lord of the Rings when Arwen holds off the ringwraiths when they come for Frodo.

Get a local bus to Arrowtown (about $8), some 20km beyond Queenstown to explore this quaint little spot which is almost like stepping back into the 19th Century. Much of the town retains its character of yesteryear with little cottages, stores, churches, stables and sweet shops that have all been lovingly kept. You could spend a day wandering through town, browswing the shops and boutique galleries and cinemas, panning for gold down by the Arrow River or doing some of the hikes that extend beyond here – my favourite is the Sawpit Gully walk.

If you want any more ideas for either pursestring feel free to contact me! Do note VIP Backpackers has plenty of options for accommodation in Queenstown.

4wd on the way to Macetown

Mountainbike to Macetown


Hope you’re enjoying the VIP Backpacker’s Travel Blog. There’ll be an update added every other Friday, so keep tuning in to keep your travel dreams alive! If there are any travel topics you want covered feel free to contact me, Jo, at blog@vipbackpackers.com


6 thoughts on “Splurge or budget in Queenstown

  1. Hiking in the Remarkables was a highlight of our trip to Queenstown. You need a car to get up to the ski lift area or it’s a long walk from Frankton and either further from Queenstown! From the ski lift area you start heading up and there are gorgeous alpine flowers in summer. Just lovely! We managed to hike up beyond the lake to the pass, to the right of the waterfall. You can also hike up to the single cone summit – that will be for the next trip!

  2. I enjoyed your blog on Queenstown as I also had recently visited the area. I went there as an older tourist and found there was much I could do that did not involve bungy jumping or jet boating. Lake Wakatipu makes a wonderful backdrop to any activities, whether walking along the side of it or climbing up to Bob’s Peak which looks out over the town and the lake. You can also get to the top of Bob’s Peak using the Gondola, a cable car, which gives you great views as you go up or down. Queenstown also is a great place to base yourself if you are going to walking many of the trails that are part of a visit to New Zealand.

  3. Yes Yes Yes to all the above recommendations on fabulous Queenstown, a must on any visit to Kiwi land. You can enjoy the beauty of nature at low cost for those of us that are budget travellers. And as for the walk at The Remarkables make sure you have a dip in the lake!

  4. Pingback: Best places to spend the autumn « Vipbackpackers's Blog

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