Unusual Things to Do in Queenstown
Is it even possible to find non-touristy things to do in Queenstown?! Ahem, well, we really had to scrape the bottom of the barrel for this one, as Queenstown is a town thriving on tourism. Believe it or not, there are a few permanent residents who enjoy some of the more unusual things to do in Queenstown, which are the activities we’ll share with you in this list.
And to plan a trip according to your travel style, head over to The Complete Travel Guide to Queenstown. Plus, don’t forget to book a place to stay from The 50 Best Accommodations in Queenstown.
1. Hike to Lake Alta
There are many popular walks that tourists like to do, which we list in the 16 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Queenstown. Lake Alta, however, is one that only a few (and mostly locals) know about. Take the steep alpine climb of the Lake Alta Track to a stunning glacier lake. To avoid the snow, the walk is best done in summer. See our guide to the Queenstown Weather & Climate to check out the local seasons. Plus, check out the 10 Best Walks in Queenstown for more hiking ideas.
Location: End of the Remarkables Ski Field Access Road, approximately 23km (14 miles) from Queenstown.
2. Play Golf
In a country where every town has a golf course, it’s no surprise that a non-touristy thing to do in Queenstown is playing golf. The local club is the Queenstown Golf Club with spectacular views of Lake Wakatipu. More prestigious courses, however, can be found at The Hills with an incorporated sculpture park or Millbrook with New Zealand’s only 27-hole course. See more experiences like these in the 10 Luxury Activities in Queenstown.
Location: See locations in the Top 5 Golf Courses in Queenstown.
3. Play Disc Golf or Stroll Around Queenstown Gardens
A fun affordable way to spend some downtime in Queenstown is by taking a walk around Queenstown Gardens. Wander around the beautifully landscaped garden and have a go at the 18-hole disc golf course, where discs or “frisbees” are available to hire from most of the outdoor shops in town. See more like this in the 10 Things to Do in Queenstown with Kids.
Location: Park Street, Queenstown town centre.
4. Have a Night Out
Join the locals and the more party-hungry tourists on one of Queenstown’s famous nights out! It might be a small town but Queenstown has a vibrant nightlife that rivals some of New Zealand larger cities. Check out some recommendations in 5 Best Bars in Queenstown and 5 Best Bars for a Quiet Pint in Queenstown.
Location: See The Guide to Queenstown Nightlife for more recommendations and street addresses.
5. Do Some Ice Skating or Watch Ice Hockey
Queenstown’s local recreation area is the Queenstown Ice Arena, offering public ice skating sessions most days from morning until the early evening unless an event is on. Speaking of events, you can catch the adult league night on most Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday nights for free! There’s a bar and cafe on-site to complete the evening.
Location: 29 Park Street, Queenstown.
6. Try Some of the Town’s Street Eats
While many tourists head to Queenstown’s most expensive restaurants, those in the know tend to gravitate toward the more affordable eateries and street eats. Head to the food trucks, such as Erik’s Fish & Chips for classic Kiwi fish and chips or The Empanada Kitchen for gourmet empanadas! The grill restaurant, Flame, also has an unmissable NZ$10 lunch deal, while New Zealand-style savoury pies at Fergbaker are also a must!
Location: Get street addresses and more recommendations in our Cheap Eats in Queenstown.
7. Shop at the Remarkables Market
Another non-touristy event in Queenstown is the local farmers’ market. Check out the Remarkables Market in the Frankton end of town every Saturday from 9am to 2pm throughout summer. Join in on the relaxed vibes, try an array of cuisine from food stalls, and browse artisan gifts. There’s usually live music too. See more activities like this in the 10 Things to Do in Queenstown for Foodies.
Location: 23 Hawthorn Avenue, Frankton, Queenstown.
8. Hit a Few Hiking Trails from Glenorchy
Instead of going to Glenorchy to just to get a photo with the red boat shed, tackle some of the nearby hiking trails that only the locals know about. Highlights include the Mt Judah trails, the Glenorchy Lagoon Walkway and Lake Sylvan Track. Check out more reasons to go to Glenorchy in our 10 Best Things to Do in Glenorchy.
Location: Glenorchy-Queenstown Road, approximately 46km (28.6 miles) from Queenstown.
9. Hike or Mountain Bike at Welcome Rock
Ok, so we know that this is a bit of a mission from Queenstown but nowhere like as far as Milford Sound, which tourists from Queenstown do every day! Welcome Rock offers a series of 27km (17-mile) walking and biking trails in the glorious high country away from the crowds of Queenstown.
Location: Nevis Road, Garston, approximately 70km (43.5 miles) from Queenstown.
10. Go Out for Dessert
And when you’ve done everything on this list of unusual things to do in Queenstown, wrap up your day with a dessert. Try the artistic doughnut balls at Balls and Bangles, with syringes stuck in the centre and all sorts of Instagrammable creations. Patagonia Chocolates has a wide array of mouthwatering ice creams and gelatos for those hot summer days. Finally, pick up a bag of melt-in-your-mouth fudge at The Remarkable Sweet Shop that offers free tastings.
Location: Balls and Bangles – 62 Shotover Street. Patagonia Chocolates – 2 Rees Street. The Remarkable Sweet Shop – 39 Beach Street, Queenstown.