Queenstown, New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world. It’s where adrenaline junkies gather to bungy jump, skydive, jetboat, paraglide, zorb and ski… none of which you can do in Queenstown with small kids.
When you’re watching the world’s thrill seekers having the crazy time of their lives around you, it can be frustrating to discover that you don’t even qualify for ‘funyaking’ (ages 3 and older only, sorry). But don’t let that put you off coming to this most picturesque of towns, with its cinematic backdrops of mountains and lakes.
Scratch under Queenstown’s adrenaline-seeking surface, and you will find plenty of things to do in Queenstown for kids, even those aged under-3. I found information on what to do in Queenstown with toddlers sorely lacking when researching my trip, so here are my suggestions for all the best things to do in Queenstown with kids.
Lake Cruise & Farm Tour
Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by soaring mountains, is the centerpiece of scenic Queenstown, and the best way to appreciate its beauty is from the water. You can’t take a toddler on a jetboat, so if you are in Queenstown with kids, opt instead for a more sedate cruise aboard the iconic steamship the TSS Earnslaw, one of the best Queenstown kids activities.
Hop off the boat at the far end of the lake to visit Walter Peak High Country Farm, to watch the sheep shearing and sheep dog demonstration, pet a sheep and partake in a barbecue lunch or afternoon tea. Speak nicely to the waitresses, and they’ll donate yesterday’s leftover scones for feeding the ducks.
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Skyline Gondola and Luge
You may not be able to skydive with a toddler, but you can ride the Skyline Gondola, the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s not quite as thrilling as throwing yourself out of a plane, but you can still enjoy some of the best views in the region, as the Gondola carries you 450 metres above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu to the top of Bob’s Peak.
Once at the top, you can jump on a chair lift and zoom down the 800m-long Luge track – suitable for all ages, and almost counts as an adventure sport. The Queenstown Luge is definitely one of the most fun Queenstown family activities.
Central Otago Wineries
The Central Otago wine region produces some of the world’s best Pinot Noir, and if you can’t spend the day paragliding, then sampling some of this fabulous red wine is the next best thing. There are more than a hundred wineries within an hour’s drive from Queenstown, and while the wineries weren’t quite as child-friendly as those in Australia’s Margaret River, we still survived without any complaints from either the winemakers or our children.
If you are a wine lover and looking for what to do in Queenstown with kids, you will be pleased to hear that we found plenty of family friendly wineries in Central Otago. Some of our favourites were the Wooing Tree, with its slide and sandpit, Carrick with its toy box and kids menu, and Chard Farm with its big lawn for the kids to run around on.
We also found plenty of family-friendly wineries in Marlborough, if you are venturing further North.
If you’re looking for things to do near Queenstown, Wanaka is about an hour’s drive out of town. Wanaka is Queenstown’s smaller, sleepier cousin, with its own pristine alpine lake and mountain vistas to be proud of. If you are visiting Queenstown with kids, be sure to pack a picnic and choose from a selection of buggy-friendly walks that follow Lake Wanaka’s shore, or just kick back on the beach and take in the views.
Just outside of town, you will find Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World, a unique family-friendly tourist attraction brimming with weirdness and eccentricity. The Great Maze is a bit beyond your average two year old, but my two kids had a blast in the illusion rooms, and checking out the Roman toilets.
Frankton Arm Walk
You may not be able to ‘tramp’ the Grand Traverse with a toddler in tow, but you can certainly enjoy a scenic stroll around Queenstown with kids. The Frankton Walkway begins at the Queenstown Gardens, and follows the Frankton Arm of Lake Wakatipu, hugging the lakeside and boasting spectacular views of the Remarkables Mountain Range across the water. The walk will take you about an hour and half in each direction, and is buggy-friendly the whole way.
Have you visited Queenstown with Kids? What were your favourite Queenstown family activities?
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