My husband & I spent a bit of time in New Zealand after we were first married on working holiday visas. Fast forward a bit, and we visited this beautiful country again for the 3rd time, but this time with our 18 month old daughter in tow. We have enjoyed Queenstown without kids and with kids. Here are our top tips for exploring Queenstown with a bambino.
Travel: We arrived into Queenstown on a flight from Auckland with Air New Zealand. This flight was not part of our international itinerary. We booked it separate. The flight is just about 2 hours total.
Arrival: We chose to hire a rental car in Queenstown City with Apex Rentals as we did not need a rental car for the entire length of our trip in Queenstown. Upon arrival, we chose to utilize the taxi bus outside the airport. It was 10NZD per person and took us directly to our hotel. We shared the ride with a few other travelers as well. After a few days in Queenstown, we picked up our rental car to do some side trips from Queenstown.
Hotel: We chose to stay at The Queenstown Boutique Park Hotel. This was our second time staying at this hotel, and we are big fans. The hotel is located at the base of the gondola across from a large field in Queenstown. The paragliders often land in this field, and our daughter had the best time watching all the balloons fly past our window. My husband also decided to paraglide so this made for the ideal spot for us. This hotel is truly a boutique hotel with a great staff and location. They also serve complimentary canapés daily which is a plus! Another option if looking for a self contained house would be to check out http://www.bookabach.co.nz which is the NZ equivalent of homeaway. We have rented thru bookabach twice, and have had lovely experiences.
Logistics: Navigating Queenstown is a breeze. All on foot. No problem. The town of Queenstown is laid out very efficiently, and you can walk everywhere.
Activities: Skyline Queenstown & Luge: Upon arrival we immediately headed to the Skyline Queenstown. We took the gondola up, had wine/hot chocolate for the tot in the observation deck restaurant and took in the beautiful views from the top. These views are not too be missed! Afterwards, we took the chair lift to the top to ride the luge down. Since our daughter was 18 months, she rode as a “future luge rider” for $2 a ride. She rode in the luge with me or my husband. We rode the luge several times as our daughter loved every second of it!
Walter Peak Farm: By far one of our favorite things we did as a family. We booked this thru Real Journeys. You board the ESS Earnslaw Steamboat and boat to the farm. The boat is an experience in itself with outside viewing decks and a little café on board. I recommend getting there early to get preferred seating. Once at Walter Peak Farm, children get to participate in feeding and petting animals which was great. We also enjoyed a sheep shearing demonstration and had afternoon tea. The afternoon tea is served inside or out depending on your preference. We chose to enjoy our tea and snacks outside on the big green bean bags on the lawn. This farm is truly a spectacular setting. It is one of the most beautiful and serene places I have had the joy to visit. When we find ourselves back in Queenstown, we will be visiting this beautiful farm again.
The Bathhouse Restaurant: We love the Bathhouse! The café is located on the beach on Lake Wakatipu right next door to a children’s park. The coffees and food was excellent. We sat on the outdoor deck, and our daughter played at the playground always in sight running back and forth. And the view is beautiful.
Patagonia Chocolates: This place is amazing for adults and children alike. My favorite is the spicy hot chocolate, and my daughter loved the chocolate croissants. This is a must stop. I would suggest a stop in before or after visiting the Underwater Observatory on the Lake. Very close by at the Main Town Pier. You can view all sorts of fish swimming underwater which is sure to be a big hit with the little ones.
Paragliding: My husband chose to tandem paraglide in Queenstown. He said the views were simply phenomenal with the lake and mountains all in view. If your children are young like mine, they will enjoy waiting in the field at the base of the gondola and watching all the jumpers paraglide and land with their chutes at the bottom. If they are older, perhaps they want to join the paragliding craze. 🙂
Kiwi Birdlife Park: Located at the base of the gondola in Queenstown is the Kiwi Birdlife park which you can walk thru and see different birds, wildlife and kiwis. You can see the NZ famed Tui and Kiwi. Since the kiwi’s are nocturnal and most active at night, the kiwi houses are dark and your best chance to spot them is when they do the daily kiwi feedings. If your little ones are afraid of the dark, you should prepare them for this beforehand.
Side Trips: If you have the time in your itinerary, hiring a car in Queenstown and taking some side trips is definitely a brilliant bonus. Arrowtown was a favorite of ours with our daughter and also Wanaka. Both of these places are lovely and have so much to do. Arrowtown can definitely be seen as a day trip being only 30 minutes from Queenstown. Arrowtown is an old historic gold mining town with lots of cute shops, cafes, and green space. Wanaka is about a 2 hour drive from Queenstown, and we chose to spend 3 additional nights in Wanaka. Wanaka is beautiful and much quieter than Queenstown. We enjoyed the lake, hiking, and the dinosaur park/playground right on the Lake. For my tips while visiting Wanaka, please visit here!