How to Plan a Family Trip to Queenstown
Welcome to the Adventure Capital! This doesn’t mean that Queenstown is just full of extreme sports though, as there are plenty of exciting activities for the little ones too. From ziplining to jet boating, Queenstown offers one of the best playgrounds for kids, all the while accompanied by glorious lake and mountain scenery.
The lakeside town also offers some educational tours, especially concerning New Zealand’s fascinating wildlife, as well as some indoor activities should the weather decide to turn. What’s more, families have plenty of places to stay, whether your style is budget or luxury. Just remember to book your accommodation as early as possible in this busy tourist hub! We’ll guide you through it all in this travel guide to Queenstown for families.
The Top Family Activities in Queenstown
- Get the adrenaline pumping on a jet boat ride
- Fly through the trees on a zipline tour with Ziptrek Ecotours
- Learn about New Zealand’s wildlife at the Kiwi Birdlife Park
- Watch the sheep being worked on a Walter Peak farm tour
- Stay out of the rain with VR, laser tag and drift-kart fun at Thrill Zone
- Or stay out the rain with go-karting, laser tag and arcading at Game Over
- Race each other to the bottom in The Luge
- Explore the Queenstown Garden
- Pan for gold in Arrowtown.
For more information on each activity, head to the 20 Things to Do in Queenstown with Kids or get a detailed breakdown of the activities that are best suited to babies, toddlers and teens in the family guide to Queenstown below.
What to Do in Queenstown with Toddlers and Babies
At first glance, Queenstown might look like a land of thrillseeking and activities better suited to older kids and teens (more on that later), but don’t let that put you off experiencing Queenstown if you are sharing it with the littlies.
Skyline Queenstown – The Luge
Something hilariously fun for all ages, The Luge atop the Skyline Gondola is a must for families, even those with toddlers. Challenge each other to Queenstown’s two downhill go-karting tracks in karts that are easy to use and simply fuelled by gravity. There’s plenty of twists and turns, tunnels and dips to keep the whole track exciting. Plus, if you’re little ones are too small, they can easily sit on mum or dad’s lap. Learn more about The Luge, as well as read reviews and book tickets on Viator, Tripadvisor and KKday.
What makes Arrowtown so great for a family trip with little ones is that it’s extremely stroller-friendly. The town is rich in gold mining history seen through its preserved buildings and Chinese Settlement, which is well worth a potter around with a stroller or a toddler holding your hand. The Arrow River Walk is also worthwhile, a stroller-friendly riverside walk taking approximately one hour to do. You can also relax by the river with an ice cream from Patagonia Chocolates or try one of the other delightful cafes. Find more experiences listed in the 10 Best Things to Do in Arrowtown, as well as other popular day trips, such as to Glenorchy, in The Best Day Trips from Queenstown.
More Things to Do in Queenstown with Toddlers and Babies
- Ride the TSS Earnslaw to do the Walter Peak Farm Tour (book tickets on Viator, Tripadvisor, Klook or KKday)
- See native animals at the Kiwi Birdlife Park (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Take a day trip to Glenorchy and visit the farm petting zoo at Glenorchy Animal Experience
- Take a scenic cruise on the Spirit of Queenstown with Southern Discoveries (on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook)
- Treat the family to a scenic flight over Queenstown, Fiordland National Park and beyond (see the 5 Best Queenstown Helicopter Tours).
For more inspiration on what to do in Queenstown with toddlers, check out the 20 Things to Do in Queenstown with Kids.
What to Do in Queenstown with Kids and Teens
With incredible lake and mountain landscapes, Queenstown is a town best experienced in the great outdoors. Here are just some ways that families can enjoy the outdoors together…
Family-Friendly Jet Boat Tours
Because Queenstown is the “Adventure Capital”, it’s almost obligatory to fit in some adrenaline-pumping activities during your visit. A family-friendly option is jet boating: a high-speed thrill ride in a boat designed with a water propulsion engine, rather than your standard propellers. This means that jet boats can manoeuvre on top of the water with precision, glide with near-misses with canyon walls, and can accomplish awesome 360° spins. Queenstown seriously has a lot of options when it comes to jet boats, so compare tours in the 5 Best Jet Boat Tours in Queenstown.
Ziplining for Families
Something for older kids, Ziptrek Ecotours offers a range of exciting ziplines through a forest overlooking Queenstown. From the Moa Tour, especially for families capturing four amazing ziplines, to the full Kea Tour with six exciting ziplines, there’s an option for everyone. See if you’re brave enough to zipline upside down as you fly through the trees and enjoy incredible views of Queenstown along the way. This activity is best suited for kids aged six years and up. Learn more about Ziptrek Ecotours on Viator, Tripadvisor, Klook and KKday.
More Things to Do in Queenstown with Teens
- Do a bungy jump at the Kawarau River (read reviews and book tickets on Viator, Tripadvisor and KKday)
- Take on a giant swing, like the Nevis Swing (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor or KKday) or the Canyon Swing (on Viator, Tripadvisor or Klook)
- Ski/learn to ski at The Remarkables or Coronet Peak in winter (see The Ultimate Guide to the Queenstown Ski Season)
- Do a family-friendly white water rafting trip with Challenge Rafting.
Free Things to Do in Queenstown with Kids
We get it, Queenstown sort of has a reputation for being expensive for families. But wait, there are free things to do in Queenstown with kids that will help you stick to your travel budget. By the way, if you need handy budgeting advice, take a look at The Travel Guide to Queenstown on a Budget.
The perfect place to let the kids loose is just a short walk from the town centre, the Queenstown Gardens. While roaming these picturesque lakeside gardens, you’ll find a playground, flower gardens, baskets for disc golf (hire discs from the outdoor stores in town) and ducks that love a good feed.
Frankton Arm Walkway
From the Queenstown Gardens, find a pleasant walkway along the lakefront called the Frankton Arm Walkway. The wide flat path is suitable for strollers and even bikes if you want to hire bikes from town. There are jetties and swimming spots to make the most of along the way. The whole walk takes approximately 1h30mins each way, but we suggest just turning back when you’re ready.
More Free Things to Do in Queenstown with Children
- Swim or relax at Queenstown Beach
- Taste some fudge at The Remarkables Sweet Shop
- Walk around Lake Hayes (see the 15 Best Walks in Queenstown)
- Have a picnic or barbecue at St Omar Park
- Relax, swim or walk around the scenic Moke Lake.
And that’s just a taste of the free activities in Queenstown for kids. Get much more ideas from our 20 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Queenstown.
Indoor Activities – Rainy Days in Queenstown for Families
Yes, even in Queenstown, the weather doesn’t always want to play ball. For those wet-weather days, here are some awesome alternatives to keep the family entertained.
Thrill Zone (& Queenstown Kids’ Club)
Delve into another reality, blast your family or enjoy a captivating 12D cinema experience at Thrill Zone. This indoor theme park offers a huge range of attractions to enjoy at your leisure. Visit the 12D movie theatre, give drift karting a go, shoot each other in laser tag or Heroblast, lose yourself in a Virtual Reality experience and more! Thrill Zone even offers Kidz Club Queenstown for four to 13-year-olds, should you want to tick off one of Queenstown’s more adventurous activities. Find out more about Thrill Zone on Viator, Tripadvisor or Klook.
Game Over – Indoor Go-Karting, Laser Tag and Arcade
Another fantastic indoor entertainment centre awaits at Game Over in The Remarkables Shopping Centre. Get behind the wheel of their fully-electric go-karts which can reach speeds of 45km/h (28mph) and cross over two levels of track! Try one of the four different solo or team-based missions in the laser tag experience. Or simply have fun in the arcade, including a “Lazer Web” and “Sports Challenge” simulator.
More Indoor Activities in Queenstown for Families
- Make your way through the weird rooms of Odyssey Sensory Maze (book tickets on Viator, Tripadvisor or Klook)
- Ride the unique Hydro Attack on Lake Wakatipu
- Enjoy ice sculptures, refreshing mocktails and freezing temperatures at Below Zero Ice Bar
- Try ice skating and/or ice bumper cars at the Queenstown Ice Arena.
See more exciting ideas in the 20 Things to Do in Queenstown on a Rainy Day.
Educational Activities for Kids
Finally, make sure your family have some meaningful experiences during their travels by treating them to a few educational tours along the way.
Kiwi Birdlife Park – Better Than a Petting Zoo
Introduce the kids (and yourselves) to the fascinating birdlife of New Zealand at the Kiwi Birdlife Park. Located at the bottom of the Skyline Gondola, the Kiwi Birdlife Park allows families to observe more than 20 different bird species, including the iconic and kiwi bird in a nocturnal enclosure. You may also get the opportunity to see critters like the green gecko and the three-eyed lizard, the tuatara. There are also wildlife shows and daily keeper presentations to learn more about the conservation of New Zealand’s wildlife. More information about the Kiwi Birdlife Park can be found on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Walter Peak Farm Tour
Get an insight into Kiwi farm life at the Walter Peak High Country Farm Tour. After cruising across Lake Wakatipu aboard a historic steamship, you’ll arrive at this remote farming station for a walking tour of the farm. Watch sheepdogs in action, see sheep shearing demonstrations and learn how wool is harvested. You and your family will then be treated to afternoon tea and time to relax in the gorgeous gardens while taking in the views of The Remarkables mountain ranges. Find out more about Walter Peak on Viator, Tripadvisor, Klook and KKday.
And don’t forget to check out our 20 Things to Do in Queenstown with Kids for more educational activities.
More About Queenstown for Families
That’s it from the travel guide to Queenstown for families. Check out more of our Queenstown guides for advice and activities in Queenstown that doesn’t fall under the “family” category but you still might find interesting:
- The Travel Guide to Queenstown on a Budget
- The Luxury Travel Guide to Queenstown
- The Foodie Guide to Queenstown
- Queenstown – Guide for Backpackers
- The Complete Travel Guide to Queenstown
Finally, discover even more family trip tips in The Travel Guide to New Zealand for Families, as well as more inspiration for your road trip in the South Island Family Itinerary: Two Weeks and South Island Family Itinerary: One Week.