What to Do for Free (or at Least Very Cheap) in Queenstown
It’s no secret: Queenstown is a pretty expensive place to be. With pricey-yet-unmissable adventure activities on offer, you’ll want to save every cent you can in this popular town. That’s why we’ve put together these free and cheap things to do in Queenstown!
Whether you are in Queenstown for a few days or staying as part of your working holiday in New Zealand, the resort town can easily burn a hole in your wallet. Take a hike, find some amazing vantage points, try some cheap eats and more with these free things to do in Queenstown. Find some more money-saving tips for your stay in The Travel Guide to Queenstown on a Budget, 10 Best Hostels in Queenstown and the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in Queenstown.
1. Hike Up Queenstown Hill – FREE
Getting to the start of the Queenstown Hill walk on Belfast Street is an achievement in itself when you see how steep the streets are. Taking you through fur tree forests and emerging on high grasslands which overlook Queenstown, this walk is worth the climb for the sensational views. Once your IG shots and TikToks are all done, take in the view, this is one of the most popular Queenstown activities for a reason! Check out more walks nearby in our 15 Best Walks in Queenstown.
Location: Belfast Street, Queenstown (a short walk from the town centre).
2. Play Frisbee/Disc Golf in the Queenstown Gardens – CHEAP
Moving onto the fun and quirky Queenstown activities, try your hand at frisbee golf! Throughout the Queenstown Gardens are 18 baskets begging for people to throw frisbees in them. Many of the sports stores in town hire frisbees out for around NZ$5 making it a cheap thing to do in Queenstown!
Location: Queenstown Gardens, Park Street (a short walk from the town centre).
3. Walk the Tiki Trail to Bob’s Peak – FREE
When it comes to what to do in Queenstown, hiking should be on top of your list. Taking you to the top of Queenstown Skyline Gondola, the Tiki Trail is an alternative and free route to seeing the view of the town that is on most Queenstown postcards. The walk starts at the gondola base on Brecon Street.
Location: End of Beacon Street, Queenstown.
4. … Then Take the Hike to Ben Lomond – FREE
Hike to the highest peak in Queenstown! The track is well signposted from the top of the Skyline Gondola. The Ben Lomond Track is the closest experience to a backcountry hike you will get this close to Queenstown. Walk across the saddle and take the super steep climb to the summit. This walk is only recommended to be done in summer (October to March). In fact, it is one of the most popular Queenstown attractions from December to February. Find out more about what weather conditions to expect in our guide, Queenstown Weather & Climate: What is the Weather Like in Queenstown?
Location: Start from either the Tiki Trail at the end of Beacon Street, the One Mile Creek Track from the Fernhill roundabout or the top of Skyline Access Road, Queenstown.
5. … Then Return on the One Mile Creek Track – FREE
Yet another fantastic hike on our list of the best things to do in Queenstown, One Mile Creek has you following an old pipeline through beech forest and past various waterfalls. Arguably this is a more impressive track than the Tiki Trail, so if you are going to pick one, pick One Mile Creek!
Location: The track starts at the Location: Fernhill roundabout, Lake Esplanade (a short walk from Queenstown town centre). It joins onto the Tiki Trail.
6. Chill Out at the Beach – FREE
Yes, there is actually a beach in Queenstown! Head to the waterfront when you’re in town and it will be pretty hard to miss Main Town Beach. While it’s a pleasant place to relax, you can amp up the experience by hiring an aqua bike, single or double kayak or stand-up paddleboard – at most around NZ$25 per person for 45 minutes.
Location: Main Town Beach, Marine Parade or end of Earl Street.
7. Go On a Historical Experience at Queenstown’s Underwater Observatory – CHEAP
At only NZ$10, how can you say no to this experience?! Time Tripper is a cinema experience at KJet‘s underwater observatory. Watch Lake Wakatipu’s Maori legend and travel back 90 million years to see how New Zealand was formed, featuring dinosaurs! You’ll also have the opportunity to feed Queenstown’s hilarious diving ducks, eels and fish. Sound like a blast? Book your tickets and even find special deals on Viator, Tripadvisor, Klook or KKday. We also list this attraction in the 20 Things to Do in Queenstown with Kids.
Location: Marine Parade, Queenstown town centre.
8. Go Shopping in The Remarkables Park – FREE
Another popular Queenstown attraction is shopping! Walk along the Frankton Walkway (another free activity) or take the Orbus to The Remarkables Park for cheaper shopping than what you find in the town. It’s also one of the 10 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Queenstown.
Location: The Remarkables Park, Hawthorne Drive, approximately 8km (5 miles) from Queenstown town centre.
9. Freestyle at SITE Trampoline – CHEAP
For an affordable all-weather activity in Queenstown, hit the trampolines of SITE Trampoline in The Remarkables Park. Practice your freestyle tricks for the Queenstown ski fields! There are heaps of activities going on with training on freeski, parkour, freestyle trampolining and so much more. Progress on your tricks at any level or just enjoy some cruisy bouncy fun. Freestyle jump sessions are up to NZ$25. See more experiences like this in the 20 Things to Do in Queenstown on a Rainy Day.
Location: 1/15 Red Oaks Drive, Frankton, approximately 9.5km (6 miles) from Queenstown town centre.
10. Eat a Big Burger – CHEAP
The famous Ferg! See what the fuss is about by demolishing a gigantic Fergburger with prices ranging from NZ$10-NZ$20. Visiting Queenstown in summer? Queuing for a Fergburger can be an all-day activity. A local’s tip would be to order over the phone in advance. For those that are allergic to queuing, we recommend Devil Burger. Be sure to pick up a “Free Fries” voucher from almost any hostel in town. And! For those that want something a little fresher, try Erik’s Fish and Chips for a New Zealand staple for only NZ$10! Pro tip: You’ve got to try their deep-fried kiwifruit for dessert. More great cheap eats can be found at The Top Cheap Eats in Queenstown.
Location: Fergburger – 42 Shotover Street. Devil Burger 5/11 Church Street. Erik’s Fish & Chips – 13 Earl Street.
11. Eat a Fergbaker Pie – CHEAP
Fergburger’s forgotten brother, Fergbaker sells gourmet desserts and pies. Let’s face it; simply eating a savoury pie is a must-do in New Zealand – see the 25 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand. The pies are also easy to carry so they’ll pair up well with your other activities in Queenstown. For more food recommendations, head over to The Food Guide to Queenstown: Places to Eat & Food Tours.
Location: 40 Shotover Street, Queenstown town centre.
12. Walk Along Lake Wakatipu on the Frankton Walkway – FREE
Ok, Lake Wakatipu is huge so there are many places to walk alongside it and revel in the beautiful surroundings. Easy to access walks from the town centre are through the Queenstown Gardens and the Frankton Walkway. These tracks are also bike, stroller and wheelchair friendly. Boom, something else to add to your list of things to do Queenstown!
Location: Queenstown Gardens – Park Street. Frankton Walkway – End of Park Street (a short walk from the town centre).
13. Do Free Fudge Tasting at The Remarkables Sweet Shop – FREE
We may be biased but when it comes to the best things to do in Queenstown, this is often on the top of our list. With so many delicious fudges to try like cookies and cream, apple pie, white rum and chocolate, it would be rude not to taste some. Then again, when you spend too long tasting you feel a little rude not buying anything. In that case, a block is NZ$5-$8.
Location: 39 Beach Street, Queenstown town centre.
14. Go Ice Skating – CHEAP
That’s right, Queenstown Ice Arena offers cheap ice skating sessions throughout the week for around NZ$15 for ages six years and up (and around NZ$5 for 5 years and under). This is an iconic Queenstown activity that has to be on your bucket list!
Location: 29 Park Street, Queenstown town centre.
15. Take a Scenic Drive Up The Remarkables – FREE
Whether it’s during winter to get to The Remarkables Ski Field or casually driving up there in summer, there are awesome views of Queenstown to be had. There are a number of viewpoints to stop at on your way up the mountain. The road is approximately 13km (8 miles) long.
Location: Remarkables Ski Field Access Road, approximately 10km (6 miles) from Queenstown town centre.
16. Sample a Beverage or Two in Queenstown’s Bars and Clubs – CHEAP
Ok, this can easily spiral out of “cheap things to do” if you let it, but a few bars in Queenstown offer drink deals, such as 1876 and your hostel’s partner bar. Also keep an eye out for drink specials in the Lakes Weekly Bulletin, available to pick up outside of liquor stores and convenience stores. Additionally, it’s always fun to try the bucking bronco at Cowboys. Check out the 10 Best Bars in Queenstown, as well as our Guide to Queenstown Nightlife.
Location: See the links above for specific bar locations.
17. Explore Queenstown Gardens – FREE
Ok, so we have already talked about a couple of cheap attractions in the Queenstown Gardens but if they don’t take your fancy then still don’t rule out the Queenstown Gardens itself. These picturesque lakeside gardens provide an oasis away from the busy town with various native and exotic tree plantations, ponds, water features, memorials and more.
Location: Park Street (a short walk from Queenstown town centre).
18. Enjoy an Affordable Cruise Around Lake Wakatipu – CHEAP
Southern Discoveries offers a journey on New Zealand’s longest lake, lasting 1h30mins with sailings throughout the day and at sunset. Get a front-row seat to the stunning scenery of Lake Wakatipu and learn all about the glacial history and pioneering stories, with onboard narration throughout the experience. See Viator, Tripadvisor or Klook for more details about the cruise, as well as read reviews and get the latest deals.
Location: St Omer Wharf, 110 Beach Street, Queenstown town centre.
19. Visit the Kiwi Birdlife Park – CHEAP
Learn about New Zealand’s unique bird species at the Kiwi Birdlife Park. Yes, this is the place to see a real kiwi bird in a special nocturnal enclosure and learn about the threats that New Zealand’s native birds have faced since human settlement. You also may get the chance to see other native species like the prehistoric tuatara and the Auckland green gecko. Admission is around NZ$40 per adult. Check out Viator and Tripadvisor for details.
Location: Upper Brecon Street, Queenstown town centre.
20. Play Mini Golf, VR Games, Drift-Karting, Laser Tag and More at Thrillzone – CHEAP
As long as you don’t do every activity at the mega indoor entertainment centre of Thrillzone, you can have a fun yet cheap time here. Dive into another reality, shooting at each other and enjoying a captivating 12D movie experience, or enjoy some good old-fashioned mini golf. Find out more about Thrillzone and look out for the latest deals on Klook, Viator or Tripadvisor. Plus, see more indoor activities in 20 Things to Do in Queenstown on a Rainy Day.
Location: 53 Shotover Street, Queenstown town centre.
21. Take a Cheap Trip to Arrowtown – CHEAP
For a fun day out, head to the historic town of Arrowtown. Just a 20-minute drive from Queenstown, Arrowtown is a gold-mining town with beautifully preserved buildings from the Otago Gold Rush. Hire a gold pan from the Lakes District Museum for around NZ$3 (with a NZ$10 deposit) and try your luck at panning for gold in the Arrow River. Speaking of the river, there is a picturesque walk alongside the river, while the Chinese Settlement is also a free must-see! Get more inspiration for your visit from our 10 Amazing Things to Do in Arrowtown, as well as more road trip ideas from The Best Day Trips from Queenstown.
Location: Arrowtown, approximately 20km (12 miles) from Queenstown town centre. Buses are available from the Stanley Street Bus Hub in Queenstown (the Number 2 Bus). Check out our guide, Public Transport in Queenstown.
22. … Or a Day Trip to Glenorchy – CHEAP
While guided tours to Glenorchy can be quite expensive, if you have your own vehicle (or manage to get a good rental deal from The Best Car Rental Companies in Queenstown) a day trip o Glenorchy can be cheap and rewarding! Once you’ve taken the scenic drive to the lakeside village there are several experiences to enjoy. Lap up the scenery as you take an easy stroll on the Glenorchy Lagoon Walkway, get a photo with the iconic red boatshed, enjoy quaint cafes and more. Discover all of the experiences in the 15 Best Things to Do in Glenorchy.
Location: Queenstown Glenorchy Road, approximately 46km (28.5 miles) from Queenstown town centre.
23. Test Your Nerve at Fear Factory – CHEAP
Get a different type of adrenaline rush in Queenstown at Fear Factory. This haunted house activity challenges you to make it through the hallways of horror all the way to the end. Many have chickened out. Will you? At least your wallet won’t chicken out with the activity being around NZ$40 per person. Learn more about Fear Factory on Viator and Tripadvisor. This experience is also one of the 10 Things to Do in Queenstown at Night.
Location: 54 Shotover Street, Queenstown town centre.
24. Enter the Weird World of Odyssey Sensory Maze – CHEAP
Another affordable indoor attraction in Queenstown, the Odyssey Sensory Maze is a labyrinth of rooms of whacky illusions, lights, sound effects, obstacles and strange sensations. Go give it a touch! Admission is approximately NZ$30 per adult and NZ$20 per child. Book your entry into the Odyssey Sensory Maze and look for good deals on Viator, Tripadvisor or Klook.
Location: 57 Shotover Street, Queenstown town centre.
25. Experience a Unique Drinking Experience at an Ice Bar – CHEAP
Far from the usual bars in Queenstown, the Below Zero Ice Bar is a bar almost entirely made of ice, from the ice sculptures adorning the walls to the cups that you drink your cocktail or mocktail from. You’ll be geared up for the experience with a thick coat and gloves. There’s also Minus 5° Ice Bar should you want another option. Admission is typically NZ$20-$40 depending on what drinks you include.
Location: Below Zero – Searle Lane. Minus 5° – 88 Beach Street.
26. Browse the Remarkables Market – FREE/CHEAP
Almost every town in New Zealand has one at least once a week, including Queenstown. Check out the Remarkables Market at the Frankton end of town every Saturday at 9am-2pm throughout summer. Join in on the relaxed vibes and try an array of cuisine from food stalls and local artisans. There’s usually live music too. Check out more experiences like this in the 10 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Queenstown.
Location: 23 Hawthorne Drive, Frankton, approximately 8.5km (5 miles) from Queenstown town centre.
27. Hike the Lake Alta Track – FREE
Another excellent hike but a bit of a hidden gem, take the steep alpine climb of the Lake Alta Track to a stunning glacier lake. You’ll ascend 200m (656ft) from the start of the track where the last part of the climb features information panels to learn more about the environment. The walk takes approximately 1h30mins return. Plus, it’s also a Lord of the Rings filming location in Queenstown! To avoid the snow, the walk is best done in summer – see the Queenstown Weather & Climate: What is the Weather Like in Queenstown?
Location: End of the Remarkables Ski Field Access Road, approximately 23km (14 miles) from Queenstown.
28. Visit Moke Lake – FREE
As long as you have your own vehicle, this is a free activity to enjoy except for, you know, the cost of fuel. Luckily, this picturesque lake in the mountains isn’t too far from Queenstown. Moke Lake has both a campground and a walking trail. Take the Moke Lake Loop Track to cross a boardwalk over a wetland then over undulating grassland as the trail circumvents the lake. The final part of the walk returns on the gravel road back to the start.
Location: Moke Lake Road, approximately 14.5km (9 miles) from Queenstown.
29. Walk the Super Short Bob’s Cove Track – FREE
Enjoy an easy picturesque free walk through native bush on the 20mins one-way Bob’s Cove Track. The track features good views over Lake Wakatipu, as well as opportunities for swimming. For a longer walk, connect to the Twelve Mile Delta Track (2-4 hours return) for more lake views and another Lord of the Rings location or the Bob’s Cove Bridle Track (1-2 hours return). Note that you’ll need to have your own vehicle to access this walk (or cycle from town).
Location: Start from either Twelve Mile Delta Road or Mt Crichton Track car park, approximately 12km (7.5 miles) from Queenstown.
30. Go On a Discounted Jet Boat Ride, Bike Hire, etc. – CHEAP
The discount booking websites for Queenstown are particularly good. Try kayaking, paddleboarding, jet boating, mountain biking, and whatever else is available during the time you are in Queenstown. Websites like Klook often have reoccurring deals, such as discounted rides on the Shotover Jet or affordable bike rentals, Gibbston Valley winery bike tours and Arrowtown and Queenstown bike tours.
Location: All over Queenstown!
Now That You Have Done All the Free and Cheap Things to Do in Queenstown …
… Check out these articles for more useful tips:
- The Travel Guide to Queenstown on a Budget
- Queenstown – Guide for Backpackers
- 10 Best Budget Accommodations in Queenstown
- 10 Best Backpacker Hostels in Queenstown
- Queenstown: A Guide to Cheap Long-Term Accommodation
That’s it for our list of cheap and free things to do in Queenstown. Find more free stuff in the 50 Best Free Things to Do in New Zealand and plan more of your itinerary around the South Island using the South Island Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: Two Weeks or South Island Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: One Week.