Where to Find Adventure Tours and Adrenaline Activities in Queenstown
Welcome to Queenstown, home of New Zealand’s most heart-pumping, undie-staining, breathtaking activities. They don’t call it the “Adventure Capital” for nothing! While you’re in this picturesque Otago town, it would almost be a crime to not do at least one of the adrenaline activities listed here. Whether you get more excited from adrenaline thrills high in the sky, on the water or on land, you’ll definitely find the right insane thing to do with this list of the best adventure activities in Queenstown.
1. Take the Leap with a Bungy Jump
Want to experience what a pure shot of adrenaline feels like? Nothing comes quite as close as leaping into the abyss. Bungy jumping is a Kiwi invention offering heart-flipping thrills. There are three epic bungy jumps to choose from in Queenstown. The 43m (141ft) jump from the Kawarau Bridge Bungy, which is the world’s first commercial bungy site. There’s also The Ledge Bungy where you’ll be strapped into a body harness for some freestyling moves as you leave from 47m (154ft). Or if you have a more “go big or go home” mantra, then choose the Nevis Bungy where you’ll leap 134m (440ft) above the Nevis Canyon with an 8.5-second freefall. Compare the jumps in the 7 Best Places to Bungy Jump in New Zealand.
Location: Kawarau Bridge Bungy – State Highway 6, approximately 23km (14 miles) from Queenstown town centre. Nevis Bungy – only available by shuttle from the AJ Hackett Queenstown Bungy Centre, Corner of Shotover and Camp Streets. The Ledge Bungy – Top of the Skyline Gondola, accessible from 53 Brecon Street on the Gondola or Tiki Trail.
2. Jet Boat Down Narrow River Canyons
Another New Zealand invention, the jet boat offers a high-speed boat ride like no other. Skim along shallow waters and narrow canyons with near-misses, 360-degree spins and breathtaking river gorge scenery. Queenstown has no lack of jet boat tours to choose from, including wilderness excursions with Dart River Wilderness Jet (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) or a quick yet powerful adrenaline-fuelled experience with Shotover Jet (on Viator, Tripadvisor and KKday). Check out our complete jet boat comparison in the 5 Best Jet Boat Tours in Queenstown.
Location: See the link above for the location of each jet boat operator.
3. Raft Down the Shotover River
Do you have what it takes to tackle the mighty Shotover River? Out of all the rivers in Queenstown, the Shotover River white water rafting trips with Challenge Rafting is the most tumultuous with exciting grade 4 and even grade 5 rapids. Shoot down rapids created by giant cliffs that have fallen into the Shotover River, as well as delving into the 170m (558ft) Oxenbridge Tunnel, unlike any other white water rafting trip in New Zealand! Find out more about Challenge Rafting, read reviews and book your tour on Viator, Tripadvisor, Klook or KKday.
Location: Tours depart from 37 Camp Street.
4. Skydive Over Epic Scenery
One of the most intense adrenaline activities on any adventure traveller’s bucket list is a skydive. If you want to match this with stunning alpine scenery, then you best hit the drop zones of Queenstown. You have two epic skydiving companies to choose from. Skydive Southern Alps (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) has you freefalling over the UNESCO World Heritage Area of the Mt Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park, while NZONE (on Viator and Tripadvisor) gives you unmatched views of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown and The Remarkables mountain ranges. See how these skydives compare to others around the country in the 11 Best Places to Tandem Skydive in New Zealand.
Location: Both tours depart from 35 Shotover Street.
5. Paraglide Over Queenstown
Probably one of the most underrated air adventures is paragliding and hang gliding. It’s as close to flying like a bird that a human can get with nothing obstructing the views as you soar across the sky. You’ll be paired with an expert guide who will make the flight as scenic or as adventurous as you like. Plus, you have multiple options when it comes to paragliding or hang gliding in Queenstown, including Coronet Peak Tandem Paragliding (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook) and SkyTrek (on Viator and Tripadvisor). Learn more in our 5 Breathtaking Places to Try Paragliding in New Zealand.
Location: Coronet Peak Tandem Paragliding – Tours depart from 39 Camp Street. SkyTrek – Tours depart from 46 Camp Street.
6. Fly on Giant Ziplines Through the Forest
Fun for everyone, Ziptrek Ecotours take you high above Queenstown on a ziplining adventure. There are three tours to choose from, an introduction into ziplining on the Moa tour to some of the steepest ziplines in the world on the Kea tour. Along the way, you’ll get to learn about the New Zealand environment in between swooping through the forest like a native bird! Learn more about Ziptrek Ecotours on Viator, Tripadvisor, Klook and KKday. We also recommend this activity in the 20 Things to Do in Queenstown with Kids.
Location: Office – 45 Camp Street. Tours start from the top of the Skyline Gondola, which departs from the end of Brecon Street.
7. Swing Across a Vast Canyon
Experience the thrills of freefalling from 109m (358ft) before swooshing across a canyon in a giant swing with the Shotover Canyon Swing. What’s more, you get to choose from more than 70 different jump styles, from tandem jumps with a friend to riding a cycle off the edge! Make your leap as insane or “timid” as you like! Check out Viator, Tripadvisor, Klook and KKday for more details on the Shotover Canyon Swing.
Location: Shuttle available from 34 Shotover Street.
8. Fly Over World Heritage Areas and Land on Glaciers
Mix incredible scenery with one of the most badass transport methods out there, a helicopter! Queenstown Airport is the base for many helicopter tour companies offering flights to Milford Sound with a glacier landing, to remote Lord of the Rings filming locations, or for some “extreme golfing” high on a mountain above Queenstown. It almost seems like anything is possible when soaring to new heights with the helicopter tour companies in Queenstown, such as Over the Top Helicopters (more info on Klook, Viator and Tripadvisor), The Helicopter Line (on Viator, Tripadvisor or KKday) and Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters (on Viator and Tripadvisor). Check out all of your options in the 5 Epic Queenstown Helicopter Tours.
Location: See the locations of each helicopter operator in the link above.
9. Do Some Self-Drive Off-Roading…
So we’ve established the air adventure activities, we’ve gone through the water adrenaline activities, so let’s check out how you can get some thrills in Queenstown on dry land. One way to explore the awesome landscapes of Queenstown in all weathers is on a self-drive quad biking tour. Follow your guide over exciting off-roading terrain, from mud to mountains to vast farming stations. Choose to ride with either Nomad Quad Safaris (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook) or Off Road Adventures (on Viator and Tripadvisor). Check out more quad biking options around the country with our list of 10 Places to Quad Bike in New Zealand for Adventure Junkies.
Location: Nomad Safaris – 37 Shotover Street. Off Road Adventures – 61A Shotover Street.
10. … Or Leave the Off-Roading to the Experts
Explore some of the most exciting off-roading terrains with an expert driver on a thrilling 4WD tour in Queenstown! Blast through the Arrowtown rivers, along the vertical cliff faces of the Skippers Canyon road, and to scenic Lord of the Rings locations in an off-roading tour with Nomad Safaris (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook) and Off Road 4WD (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
Location: Nomad Safaris – 37 Shotover Street. Off Road 4WD – 61A Shotover Street.
11. Experience Hydro Attack!
One of Queenstown’s more unique boat rides, Hydro Attack is a semisubmersible craft that can dive 5ft into Lake Wakatipu before shooting 18ft into the air! The exciting 25-minute boat ride has you travelling up to 80km/h on the surface and up to 40km/h underwater. And, come on, those shark designs are pretty damn cool. See more weird activities like this in the 9 Newest & Weirdest Extreme Activities in New Zealand, as well as the 10 Unique & Unusual Things to Do on the South Island.
Location: Beach Street.
12. Have a Race on The Luge
Definitely more of a soft adventure activity in Queenstown but something hilariously fun for all ages, The Luge at Skyline Queenstown is a must! Challenge each other to Queenstown’s two downhill Luge tracks in go-karts that are easy to use by simply running on gravity. There are plenty of twists, turns, tunnels and dips to keep the track exciting. Learn more about The Luge, as well as read reviews and book tickets on Viator, Tripadvisor and KKday.
Location: The top of the Skyline Gondola, which departs from the end of Brecon Street.
13. Tackle the Downhill Mountain Biking Trails
Speaking of adventure activities you can do from atop the Skyline Gondola, there’s also a sweet set-up for downhill mountain biking. Choose from multiple trails of varying difficulties to ride downtime and time again. With plenty of mountain bike hire stores in town and the gondola to transport you and your bike up to Bob’s Peak, all that’s left is endless downhill fun! If you really dig mountain biking, then check out The Best Mountain Biking Regions in New Zealand.
Location: Skyline Gondola, accessible from 53 Brecon Street.
14. Ski or Snowboard in Winter
During winter, Queenstown comes alive with the ski season, with four nearby ski fields to choose from. Lessons and lift passes are available at Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, or a bit further afield toward Wanaka at Cardrona or Treble Cone. Learn more about the ski season in our guide to The Ultimate Guide to the Queenstown Ski Season.
Location: The Remarkables – Remarkables Ski Field Access Road, approximately 23.5km (14.5 miles) from Queenstown town centre. Coronet Peak – Coronet Peak Road, approximately 16km (10 miles) from Queenstown town centre. Cardrona – Cardrona Valley Road, approximately 58km (36 miles) from Queenstown town centre. Treble Cone – Mt Aspiring Road, approximately 96km (60 miles) from Queenstown town centre.
Bus transport is available to the ski fields, which you can find out more about in the link above.
15. Soar Over Lake Wakatipu on a Tandem Parasailing Flight
Now, this isn’t as extreme as some of the other adventure activities in Queenstown but is a fun thing to do nonetheless. Fly up to 600ft over Lake Wakatipu on a parasailing flight that you can enjoy solo or together thanks to the tandem harness. See how the flight with Queenstown Paraflights compares to others in the 5 Incredible Places to Do Parasailing in New Zealand.
Location: Main Town Pier, 1 Marine Parade.
16. Try White Water Sledging (River Surfing or Riverboarding)
If you thought white water rafting was gnarly, wait until you discover white water sledging. Your guide will teach you how to handle your river sledge so you can ride the rapids, whirlpools and surf standing waves on the Kawarau River! Book your river sledging adventure with Serious Fun Riverboarding on Klook, Viator or Tripadvisor.
Location: Tours depart from 37 Shotover Street.
17. Go On a Canyoning Adventure
And for one of the most underrated adventure activities, canyoning is where you make the river canyons of Queenstown your playground. Jump off waterfalls, abseil, zipline, climb, scramble and swim on one of the epic canyoning adventures available with Canyoning New Zealand (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook) – just see the 7 Best Places for Canyoning in New Zealand.
Location: Tours depart from 78 Beach Street.
18. Experience Rock Climbing
Make the most out of nature’s playground on an exciting rock climbing experience with Queenstown Climbing. No experience is necessary (but if you do have experience, they’ll find some epic climbs for you to challenge yourself) and all of the gear is provided on their half-day tours. Find out more about rock climbing in Queenstown on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Tours depart from Unit 3/15 Red Oaks Drive, Frankton, approximately 9.5km (6 miles) from Queenstown town centre.
19. Experience Snowshoeing on The Remarkables
Forget the crowded ski fields; experience the snowy mountains in an alternative snowshoeing escape. Basecamp Adventures offers a real alpine adventure in The Remarkables and Pisa mountain ranges. The four-hour tour is suitable for most fitness levels and ages seven years and up! Just bring warm clothing and snacks and Basecamp Adventures will provide the rest.
Location: Local pick-up provided by the tour operator.
20. Kayak or Stand-Up Paddleboard on Moke Lake
Kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are readily available to hire from Queenstown Beach, but a true backcountry adventure experience awaits at Moke Lake. Join Paddle Queenstown for kayaking or paddleboarding at a highcountry lake with instruction, transport and New Zealand refreshments included. On the lake, you’ll explore at your own pace on a self-guided experience. Find out more about Paddle Queenstown and read reviews on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook. Plus, see how the kayaking experience compares to the 10 Best Kayak Tours in New Zealand and 10 Best Places to SUP in New Zealand.
Location: Main Town Beach.
21. Hiking, Glorious Hiking
Finally, the cheapest adventure activity in Queenstown is hiking and, oh boy, are there some amazing hikes in Queenstown. From easy town-approachable climbs up Queenstown Hill to all-day missions like Ben Lomond, there are many hiking adventures to be had in Queenstown. Find a trail to suit your desired timeframe, fitness level and scenery in the 15 Best Walks in Queenstown. Oh, and you might appreciate some more free stuff in the 20 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Queenstown.
Location: See the link above for locations of all walks.
The Most Extreme (and Fun) Adventure Activities in Queenstown
That’s it for our list of the best adrenaline and adventure activities in Queenstown. But wait, there’s more! Check out more Queenstown tips and adventure experiences in the following guides:
- 45 Best Things to Do in Queenstown
- 10 Things to Do in Queenstown at Night
- Top 10 Things to Do in New Zealand
- 13 Most Epic Extreme Sports & Adrenaline Activities in New Zealand
- 11 Epic Activities to Do in New Zealand
Finally, make your ultimate bucket list using the 101 Things to Do in New Zealand: The Ultimate List.