Queenstown is the ultimate holiday destination: with something for everyone, you can relax among the scenic landscape or get your heart racing by conquering one of the many local thrills. Sometimes called ‘the adventure capital of the world’ Queenstown is the perfect place to explore the best of what New Zealand has to offer, while enjoying the iconic sights that make the region famous.
If you’re thinking about booking a scenic Queenstown tour, or if you just want to discover the very best of what the region has to offer, check out our list of must-see Queenstown sights below that you can snap and ‘gram during your visit.
Explore the stunning beauty of Lake Wakatipu… If only Instagram had an epic filter for this one.
Queenstown sits on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand’s second largest lake, which provides a beautiful backdrop to any visit. Rimmed by the epic Southern Alps Mountain range, clear fresh water meets jagged peaks that tower and stand high above the water’s edge. One of the highest peaks in the region, Ben Lomond, stretches 2,192 metres in the air, like a watchful guardian over the bustling town below.
Lake Wakatipu gets its name from an ancient māori legend. As the story goes, Matakauri, a māori warrior who slayed Taniwha, a cruel giant who captured his love Manata. Matakauri set Taniwha on fire, and after the body melted a deep gorge in the earth was carved in the shape of an ‘S’, which filled with ice and snow. The ‘S’ shape that was left forms Lake Wakatipu as it stands today. Legend says Taniwha’s heart didn’t burn and still beats in the lake, creating the mysterious rise and fall of the water that mimics an open tide.
Queenstown offers numerous cruise options for visitors keen to get up close and personal with Lake Wakatipu, including scenic tours around the lake’s shoreline and across its pristine waters. If you’re planning to soak up Queenstown sights this summer, make sure you don’t miss out on a chance to take in some of New Zealand’s most breathtaking scenery from the water.
Best ‘gram: Lake Wakatipu and Cecil Peak from Queenstown Gardens.
The ultimate source of frenvy: Take in the world-famous Remarkables mountain range, home to The Remarkables Ski Fields
Towering above Queenstown, the world-famous Remarkables mountain range is unmissable. The snow-capped peaks give way to some of New Zealand’s most awe-inspiring scenery with awesome views of the mountains available from every angle across Queenstown and the greater Wakatipu basin.
The Remarkables mountain range is a must-see for visitors to Queenstown interested in soaking up the natural beauty of this world-famous region. While the mountains can be seen from anywhere in town, we recommend driving the winding road to the summit & taking in the epic views from above. In the winter, visitors can enjoy a day of skiing at The Remarkables Ski Field operated by NZ Ski, which caters to beginners and more advanced skier and snowboarders. In the summer, tramp 1 hour and 30 minutes to Lake Alta, a picturesque glacial lake that is nestled 1800 metres high in the side of the mountain range.
Best ‘gram: Viewpoint halfway up the Remarkables Ski Field access road looking west back towards Queenstown.
Guaranteed ‘grams: The crystal-clear waters of the Shotover River as it weaves through glacier-carved canyons
A walk along the Shotover River in Queenstown is an absolute must. Stand on the edge of one of the many bridges that span the Shotover River, and you’ll be able to see straight to the bottom—the crystal blue waters are incredibly clear, especially in the height of summer.
The snaking Shotover River is a perfect contrast to its snow-capped mountain backdrop, and there are plenty of ways to get up close and personal with it. You can try your hand at rafting, experience a high-speed jet boat ride, take a scenic flight over the river, or join a guided walk, where you’ll learn about the river’s history as a gold mining settlement, and modern conservation efforts to preserve its pristine shoreline.
Best ‘gram: Snap a shot of the Shotover Jet as it races under Edith Cavell Bridge in Arthur’s Point (and grab a cheeky beer from our friends at Cargo Brewery after!)
Look, smell, taste & ‘gram in historic Arrowtown
Arrowtown, named the most beautiful small town in New Zealand in 2020, is a historic gold mining town that lies just outside Queenstown and is worth a visit. The town was originally founded as a gold mining settlement, but now it has become home to many unique boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants – all within walking distance of each other.
Located on the banks of the Arrow River, Arrowtown is a great place to spend the day with the family. Enjoy a delicious breakfast at Chop Shop, tour the Historic Arrowtown Chinese Settlement, and then hike Tobin’s Track to take in some of the best views of the Wakatipu Basin. Arrowtown is also home to some of our favourite wineries, including Akarua, Amisfield Wine and Wet Jacket.
Best ‘gram: The Arrowtown main strip shows off its old-world charm.
Queenstown, New Zealand is one of the most beautiful places in the world. With its stunning natural beauty and eclectic mix of cultures, it has attracted visitors from all over the globe for decades. This list is just a starting point, there is so much more that this region has to offer. Make sure you don’t miss a beat and book a tour of Queenstown sights with Altitude Tours.