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If you’re looking for the best free things to do in Queenstown, look no further! This vibrant town has plenty to do and if you’re on a budget, don’t worry, you can still experience much of what Queenstown has to offer.
Queenstown is nestled in the South Island of New Zealand and is a popular tourist destination for those looking to enjoy the great outdoors. The great thing about Queenstown is there are always a ton of activities to keep you busy.
This incredibly scenic destination is beautiful no matter the season. In autumn you’ll witness the leaves changing to a gorgeous array of orange and yellows. In winter, the snow on the mountains is magical. In summer, the lakes and beaches are perfect for a dip. Then in spring, all the flowers start to bloom and there’s a lovely crispness to the air.
So whenever you chose to visit, be sure to refer to this list of the best free things to do in Queenstown so you can make the most of your holiday!
11 Best Things to do in Queenstown for Free
Hike up Queenstown Hill
Queenstown Hill is a popular hiking spot in New Zealand’s Queenstown region. The hill offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and lakes, and on a clear day, you can even see all the way to Milford Sound.
The hike is a 500-metre climb through the pine forest until you reach the summit of Te Tapu-nui. It’s a total of 4.2km and takes about 3 hours. With a difficulty grade of intermediate, it’s not too strenuous but it’ll probably get your heart rate up a little bit! You’ll be rewarded with some pretty spectacular views once you reach the summit.
On the way up you’ll pass the popular ‘Basket of Dreams’ sculpture, along with different plaques explaining the epochs of Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown.
If you’ve bought some snacks with you, or you want to rest for a bit, you can stop on the shore of the small mountain lake before coming back down.
The starting point of the Queenstown Hill hike isn’t far from the city centre. It’s located at a small car park off Belfast Terrace.
Relax at Sunshine Bay
Located just 3kms from the town, Sunshine Bay is the perfect place to head for a relaxing afternoon. Depending on the time of year you might even go for a dip!
If you have a car, take a short 5-minute drive along the Queenstown to Glenorchy Road. Otherwise if you’d rather get some exercise, you can walk or cycle along the Sunshine Bay track.
This secluded beach doesn’t have too much in the way of facilities but with a toilet, a few benches and a small jetty it’s got everything you need.
Walk the Tiki Trail up to Bob’s Peak
Queenstown is a beautiful place to walk, and the Tiki Trail up to Bob’s Peak is one of the best ways to see the area. The trailhead is located just outside of town, and the path takes you through some of the most stunning scenery in New Zealand.
The trail is a great activity to do all year round, and it offers stunning views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. You’ll find the starting point for this trail at the Gondola base station on Brecon Street.
The entire hike takes about one hour, and is of moderate difficulty with a distance of 2.1km. It’s well worth it for the incredible views. If you’re looking for a great way to see Queenstown, the Tiki Trail is definitely the way to go.
Stroll along the Frankton walkway
One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of Queenstown is to take a stroll along the Frankton walkway. The walkway follows the shore of Lake Wakatipu and offers breathtaking views of The Remarkables mountain range.
Towards the end you’ll reach the Queenstown Gardens, a serene oasis filled with beautiful flowers and native trees.
The walkway takes about one and a half hours to reach the end, then of course you’ll need to turn around a walk back. It’s up to you to decide how far you want to walk, you can turn around and head back at anytime.
Whether you’re looking for a short stroll or a longer walk, the Frankton walkway is the perfect way to explore Queenstown’s stunning scenery.
Drive up The Remarkables for some stunning views
The Remarkables is a must-do when visiting Queenstown New Zealand. It’s known as one of the most iconic mountain ranges in New Zealand, so of course it won’t disappoint. Be sure to bring your camera because the views are stunning at the top.
The drive up takes about an hour, and it’s a great way to see the surrounding area. Depending on the time of year, you may need chains so remember to keep that in mind. These are easy to hire from a car rental place and they will show you how to put them on.
There are gorgeous viewpoints along the way so don’t be afraid to stop often to take it all in.
Once you reach the top, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of Queenstown and the surrounding mountains. If you’re looking for an incredible view, The Remarkables is definitely the place to go.
Explore Queenstown Gardens
Queenstown Gardens is a scenic spot located in Queenstown, New Zealand. The gardens feature beautiful flowers, trees, and walking paths. No matter where you’re staying in Queenstown, this is a great place to visit.
Visitors can also find the peaceful Lake Wakatipu located within the Queenstown Gardens. Being completely free to visit, Queenstown Gardens is the perfect place to take a stroll, have a picnic, or just relax and enjoy the scenery.
The gardens are open to the public year-round and are definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in Queenstown.
Hike the Lake Alta Track
Lake Alta is one of the most stunning hiking tracks in Queenstown, New Zealand. The track takes you through alpine wetlands and up to Lake Alta, where you can enjoy stunning views of the glacial lake.
The entire walk takes about one and a half hours and is 2.4km return. This is classified as a moderately difficult tramping track so make sure you’re prepared. All year round the track experiences cold temperatures, high winds and possibly snow so be sure to wear suitable clothing and shoes.
The Lake Alta Track starts on the road behind the Remarkables skifield buildings, then you’ll follow the skifield road which takes you to the top of the Alta Chairlift. From there you’ll be able to find your way with the markers.
The trail is steep so it’ll probably have you a little out of breath but the views are totally worth it. With its beautiful scenery it’s no wonder that the Lake Alta Track is one of Queenstown’s most popular hikes!
Take a leisurely stroll along Bob’s Cove track
Bob’s cove track is a lovely easy walking track in Queenstown, New Zealand. It’s only 20 minutes walk one way, and it’s a great way to see some of the amazing scenery that Queenstown has to offer. You’ll also get some stunning views of Lake Wakatipu along the way.
The track starts at the carpark and then winds its way down through some stunning native bush before emerging at the picturesque Bob’s Cove.
It’s a really lovely spot, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in Queenstown. In summer it’s fantastic for a refreshing dip.
Take a drive to Glenorchy
One of the best free things to do in Queenstown (and my personal favourite!) is to take a drive to Glenorchy. The drive itself is stunning and not to be missed.
It won’t take you long to see why it’s known as one of the most scenic drives in New Zealand. As you wind your way through the beautiful scenery be sure to make the most of the rest stops and look out points to take in the views.
Glenorchy is a small town in the Otago region of New Zealand, located just north of Queenstown. The town is nestled amongst stunning mountains and lakes.
Once you reach Glenorchy, you can explore the town and its surroundings. There are plenty of walking and hiking trails in the area, so you can get some exercise while taking in the stunning views.
Enjoy the crystal-clear water at Wilson Bay
Located on the way to Glenorchy, Wilson Bay makes a great rest stop. The sparkling blue water won’t disappoint and it’s far enough away from the hustle and bustle to feel pretty secluded.
Like most places in Queenstown, you’ll get some gorgeous scenery to soak up while relaxing at this beautiful bay.
Being a lake beach you’ll find stones instead of sand but they are smooth enough that it’s still nice to walk on. Just don’t forget to bring a towel with you if you’re wanting to sunbathe.
Enjoy the beauty of Lake Hayes
Lake Hayes is a beautiful lake located in Queenstown, New Zealand. It is a great place to go for a walk, relax and take in the scenery.
There are plenty of walking tracks around the lake, so you can explore at your own pace. The track around the perimeter of the lake is an easy walk and takes around 2 – 3 hours to complete.
The lake is also a popular spot for photography enthusiasts as it provides stunning reflections of the surrounding mountains. Lake Hayes is a must-see when visiting Queenstown and of course, it is completely free to enjoy!
This lovely little town is only a short drive from Queenstown, and it’s well worth a visit. Arrowtown is full of historic charm.
My favourite time to visit is in the Autumn as you get all the stunning colours of the leaves coming through, it adds to the whole feel of the town. Don’t miss strolling down the heritage main street, it’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time.
You can explore the old Chinese settlement, visit the restored buildings from the gold rush era, or simply take a stroll along the beautiful riverfront. There are lovely walking and biking trails too.
It’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of Queenstown for a while, and it won’t cost you a cent.
Visit The Remarkables Farmers Markets
Queenstown is known for its fresh produce, and the farmers markets are a great way to get a taste of what the region has to offer.
Held every Saturday morning from October through till April, the Remarkables Market is located alongside the Remarkable Shopping Centre in Frankton starts at 10am.
At the Remarkables Market you’ll find fresh produce, along with arts and craft stalls. You’ll also find a selection of food trucks and stalls, so you can grab a bite to eat while you browse the market stalls.
Entry to the markets is free, so it’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning in Queenstown.
Best Free Things to do in Queenstown
That’s a wrap on the best free things to do in Queenstown!
To make the most of this wonderful city I’d recommend staying at least 5 days. There really is a ton of fun things to do and soo many yummy restaurant and cafes to try out.
If you only book a weekend, you’ll probably find yourself wishing you had planned to stay longer. You certainly won’t be short of things to do! If you have extra time, you can also visit other places in the area like Omarama.
Hopefully this list has got you feeling inspired to book a holiday to this beautiful part of New Zealand soon.