Are you ready to take in some of New Zealand’s top scenery? There’s a lot to see near the end of South Island.
Queenstown is a small resort town in the Otago region that’s surrounded by lakes, mountains, lush forests, and fantastic trails. For all you nature lovers, it’s simply one of the best places to visit in the whole country.
Despite its serene nature, there’s also tons of room for adventure. So much so that most of the tourism in the region actually revolves around thrill-seekers.
With that in mind, discover some of the natural wonders of Queenstown that can put even the most energetic visitors in awe.
#1. Nevis Valley
An idyllic location and one of the top places to visit in Queenstown, New Zealand, the region is within the Remarkables Conservation Area.
Nevis Valley offers easy access to some of the best vantage points in the country. The road is also exciting as it’s off the beaten path, so there’ll be a lot of scenery to take in on the trip.
But there’s another reason for you to visit: it has the biggest rope swing in the world. If you’re a bungee jumping enthusiast or just looking for a thrilling adventure, you’re in luck – Nevis Valley is one of the world’s elite adventure sites.
#2. The Remarkables Conservation Area
After leaving Nevis Valley, you can start fully exploring the Remarkables Conservation Area. It’s a vast piece of land around the southeastern shore of Lake Wakatipu. The picturesque mountain range backdrop makes it a perfect spot for nature loves.
In the cold season, it’s also a perfect place for winter activities like skiing and snowboarding. Meanwhile, arriving in the area on a sunny day with clear skies provides ample opportunities for memorable photoshoots.
#3. Shotover River
Fancy some water adventures? Know that the Shotover River is one of the best Queenstown attractions. You can explore 47 miles worth of water on either a jet board or a raft, allowing you to have a magnificent journey across fast currents.
Although popular among thrill-seekers, it’s also a prime destination for nature lovers. After all, the river flows along the Southern Alps and goes all the way into the Kawarau River.
#4. Queenstown Gardens
Not all natural wonders are outside the town. You can stay in a comfortable urban environment and still enjoy nature at its finest.
Visit the Queenstown Gardens to experience tranquility right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the community. While you can join the occasional game of disc golf, most people chose to walk the garden’s gorgeous paths and admire the detailed landscaping.
#5. Skippers Canyon
One of the most surprising natural Queenstown attractions is Skippers Canyon, a scenic gorge that spans 13.7 miles.
Once upon a time, the entire region was actually a bustling gold mining area. But since then, the road to Skippers Canyon transformed into one of New Zealand’s most scenic routes.
You can cross Skippers Bridge, towering 328 feet above the river, and admire the massive rock faces on both sides of the gorge.
#6. Milford Sound
If you want to visit more Queenstown attractions, head further southwest. You’ll end up at Milford Sound, which is a spectacular fjord. It has clear waters and idyllic views and is a regular hiking hotspot.
You can easily get there if you rent a car and go on a four-hour trip. The route is amazing, but most tourists prefer hopping on one of the regular tours out of Queenstown.
#7. Queenstown Hill
The mountain of Queenstown Hill, or Te Tapu-Nui, is one of the smallest in the area. That said, it’s still one of the most scenic sites.
You can hike the mountain on a very accessible trail, half of which allows you to take your furry companion. But once you reach the privately-owned land, you can’t take your pets with you any further.
Still, the trail, or the Time Walk, takes you gently up the hill and through a massive larch and douglas fir forest. It’s a great spot to visit if you also want to check out the native vegetation that’s abundant as you near the top.
#8. Tiki Trail
The Tiki Trail is among the top recreational trails in Queenstown. But it’s actually more challenging than you think, as it boasts steep inclines, tons of scattered tree roots, and large rocky sections.
With good conditioning, you can reach the end of the trail in up to three hours, with downtown Queenstown as your starting point.
It’s a popular alternative to taking the Queenstown gondola. While you’ll miss the bird’s eye view of the area, you still get to experience a picturesque forest trail and enjoy a terrific panoramic view from Bob’s Peak.
#9. Lake Hayes
In the Wakatipu Basin is where you’ll also find Lake Hayes. It’s a smaller but equally attractive lake with amazing mountain peaks in the background.
Surrounding the lake is a vast grassland area where you can relax, explore, or engage in other recreational Queenstown activities. Many trails can take you all around the lake, a favorite thing to do of cyclists.
#10. Kawarau River
If you want to see the river that drains Lake Wakatipu, prepare to make a 37-mile trip. That’s how long the Kawarau River spans, located to the east of the Kawarau Gorge.
Both river banks offer spectacular views of lush forests and rocky faces. You can also stop to check out the suspension bridge, often dubbed the birthplace of bungee jumping.
Kawarau River is a perfect spot for adventurers due to its fast currents and narrow stretches.
More than a Thrill-Seeker’s Paradise
Queenstown has so much to offer than most people give it credit for. It’s a shame to call it a vacation destination just for extreme adventurers. The awe-inspiring beauty of its natural wonders also calls out to all nature lovers.
There are plenty of trails to hike, mountain peaks to see, and enviable photos to take in the region. Whether you want to explore on land or on water, everything is possible.
Although some areas are harder to manage during the cold season, the scenery alone makes every moment worthwhile.