Queenstown for many visitors means throwing yourself off a Bridge, out of a plane or charging around Lake Wakatipu on a jet boat. With a whole heap of adventure activities to partake in the town can become pretty expensive if you’re a little loose with the cash. But never fear, as we are here to help you enjoy Queenstown Attractions on a shoestring budget. Trust us, we live here and can give you all the insider tips you need. Whether you have just arrived fresh off the Kiwi Bus, landed at the airport or rolled up in your camper van there is so much opportunity to do Queenstown on a Budget if you know where to look. Here’s our pick of free or nearly free things to do in Queenstown.
Most people sort out their Queenstown accommodation before they arrive in town as it is busy all year round. There are plenty of campsites dotted in and around the main centre. Most are within walking distance of all amenities but if not the handy Connectabus will take you to your desired location.
Hostels, the budget travellers sleeping and meeting point, are plentiful in Queenstown. High on our favourites list is the Tahuna Pod Hostel, which sits smack bang in the middle of all the action. This cheap but bright and cheerful hostel comes with quaint pod style bunk beds which take away any preconceived idea of grungy hostels. At under $35 a night, you are winning with this modern haven.
If staying in a hostel doesn’t appeal to you then try Hotels Combined for a comparison list, based on deals, of hostels and hotels in town.
Airbnb can be a great cost-effective way to spend a comfy couple of nights and get to know the locals while you’re at it.
When you have found yourself somewhere to lay your head, get outside! The adventure capital of Queenstown (the world?) is waiting for you.
Cheap Queenstown Activities
If you don’t want to splash out on any of the major wallet-busting activities that’s okay. Nature is free! There are HEAPS of Walks in Queenstown for all abilities.
Stroll up Queenstown Hill (accessible right from the town centre) and grab that Instagram Pic of the lake. Learn a little about the Maori heritage while you’re there. Sound good? Then this one-hour hike is just for you.
If you fancy strapping on your walking boots and having a full day hike to the top of Ben Lomond (It’s mountain towering above the town) then you will not part with a dollar. Every track is signposted, easily accessible and boasts incredible views of the town below. If you want a trek or a stroll then we have got the lot.
After you have spent some time being at one with Mother Nature it is time to go exploring all your other budget options in the town. The Skyline Gondola is one of the top Queenstown Attractions and it’s not expensive. But you can decide to walk the Tiki Trail up to the Gondola viewpoint. The walk takes around an hour. At the top, you’ll find the Luge track, a real-life Mario Kart race. For around $50 you can grab yourself a return trip on the Queenstown Gondola and a few Luge races, So much fun especially if you have a group of friends competing for the winning title. Before you descend make sure you grab that iconic picture of the town below.
Check out our beautiful beaches! It might be a freshwater lake and there’s no surf, but the beaches are clean and beautiful. Entrance is free, the water is delicious, and you’ll get to watch Queenstown activities happen all around as you lounge in the sun. Don’t try this one in winter though!
I don’t know about you but I love watching people do crazy stuff. YouTube is great for watching videos of people doing insane stunts but I’m happier watching the action live. Everywhere you look in Queenstown, especially in summer, there are people jumping, flying, and bouncing. The world-famous Kawarau Bridge bungee jump is not only an amazing experience, it’s a treat for the spectators. Watch as people pay to have the life scared out of them and giggle at the screams of fear mixed with joy.
Food and drink can create a huge dent in your budget but the Queenstown’s cheap eats aren’t too hard to find. $10 lunch is a big thing in town, from pub style food at Searle Lane, delicious Mexican at Sombreros or some takeaway sushi from Sushi Box, you’re sure to find something to fill you up. But no trip to Qtown is complete without sampling one of the finest burgers in the world.
Fergburger isn’t hard to miss thanks to the mass of people outside the 42 Shotover St address. Follow the delicious smells wafting far and wide up the street. Save yourself some room as you won’t need to eat again for the day, the menu is diverse, ridiculously tasty and reasonably priced. Make sure you grab a snap of your burger first, as they don’t last long once you get started.
As the sun starts to set over your new favourite place in New Zealand the town really comes alive, head to Rhinos Ski Shack for some $5 beers and get a real flavour of Apres ski. Don’t forget to use Book Me while you are here, you can find a whole load of discounted activities and dining options, free WIFI is also available downtown for everyone to use. As the sun rises on your last morning here, make your way over to Cookie time to grab a $1 coffee before 9AM, stock up on some souvenirs and back on the road you go. Don’t be disheartened that you have to leave, we will always welcome you back with open arms, you’re part of the family now.
Looking for more ways to save money? Read our guide to Queenstown Deals and save even more.
Long term backpackers be sure to read our guide to a New Zealand Working Holiday!
Cover Photo @amongmountainsandlakes