Queenstown is known for its bucket-list adventure activities, such as bungee jumping and white-water rafting. With three days to fill, you can not only get your thrills, but you can also take some time to slow down and relax, and even take a trip to Milford Sound. Here’s how to maximize your time on a 3-day stay in Queenstown.
Day 1: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
On day one, try out some of those nerve-testing adventures for which Queenstown is so famous. Feel a blitz of adrenaline as you sway above the canyon floor on the Nevis Swing, take a leap of faith from a bungee platform, or sign up for an unforgettable package adventure that includes jet boating on the Shotover River, white-water rafting, and a helicopter ride over Skippers Canyon. If all that seems a little too thrilling for your taste, try a 4WD tour, which follows off-road trails and makes stops for scenic photo ops, short strolls, and even picnics.
Come evening, head to Queenstown’s Steamer Wharf—a dining and entertainment precinct near the lake’s edge—where you can enjoy dinner with a view at one of several restaurants and pubs.
Day 2: Sail, Stroll, and Sip
After an action-packed first day, slow things down with some more leisurely activities. Start with a tour of Central Otago, New Zealand’s southernmost wine region. Guided wine tours include tastings at cellar doors, and allow visitors to sample pinot noirs and white wines made using riesling, pinot gris, and gewürztraminer grapes—without having to worry about transportation. Lunch, typically in the form of a gourmet sharing platter, is usually included.
Back in town, embark on a cruise aboard a vintage coal-fired steamship. Sail across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak High Country Farm, where you can watch sheep-shearing demonstrations, wander around the farm’s lakeside gardens, and dine on an al fresco barbecued feast of roasted meats and seafood while admiring views of the Remarkables mountain range. Look for the stars twinkling overhead during the return boat ride to Queenstown.
Day 3: Experience Fiordland National Park
Among the most popular day trip destinations from Queenstown is Fiordland National Park, a spectacularly scenic region within a UNESCO World Heritage Site and characterized by high peaks, sheer cliffs, and mirror-clear waters. Most day trips to the park include a sightseeing cruise around either Milford or Doubtful sound, during which you can admire the dramatic scenery and spot wildlife such as seals, penguins, and dolphins. Day trips by bus typically last upward of 12 hours, though there are half-day trips by plane instead. For a closer-to-town day trip with that scenic wow-factor, consider a guided hike in Mt. Aspiring National Park.
Return to Queenstown in time to ride the Skyline gondola up Bob’s Peak for a memorable buffet dinner at the mountaintop Stratosfare Restaurant and Bar, where large windows frame views over Queenstown, Coronet Peak, the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu.