We’ve lived and traveled in Aotearoa New Zealand for almost a year. What is the one place we’ve returned to? Queenstown. Yet I could still go back and happily sit on the shore of Lake Wakatipu eating meat pies from Ferg Bakery every day while the kids toss rocks into the water. Here are our favorite kid-friendly things to do in Queenstown.
12 Things to Do in Queenstown with Kids
Give the kids some free play time on this epic lakefront playground with a view.
My biggest tip when traveling with kids is to schedule free play time. Whether it’s at a playground or on the beach, giving them time and space to do their thing without having to move from place to place is a must. It’ll make everyone happier.
The Bathhouse Playground gives you all the options – play equipment, stream, lake, swimming dock, climbing trees, rental boats, and easy access to town for snacks – with one of my favorite views.
Pro Tip: Ferg Burger is within walking distance – send someone for takeaway for dinner!
Parking can be tough, but if you park in the 30 min zone at 5:30PM, it ends at 6PM and you’ll have free parking for the evening.
Distance: Short walk depending on where you park.
Elevation Gain: None
If you’re up for a bit of a challenge, this view (and the fairy garden) are worth the effort.
Only a few minutes drive from town, up a very steep hill, this hike through the forest leads to big views of the lake and the surrounding hills and mountains.
The hike is mostly up hill and shaded. There are a number of plaques along the way describing the history of the region.
The best part: we came across the biggest fairy garden I’ve seen to date. It was an excellent breaking point for some free play before finishing the climb.
Pro Tip: Gaining almost 1500ft (500m) in a mile and a half (2.5kms) is no joke. Be prepared for the challenge. You can also skip the last bit and enjoy the lower lookout like we did, which was plenty beautiful!
Distance: 3 miles/5km round trip
Elevation Gain: 1300ft/450m
Walk or bike along a quieter part of the lake.
Frankton is just a few minutes drive from Queenstown and while it’s close to shops, it feels quieter in the good way.
Walk or bike along the Frankton trail. Stop at the beach to swim or throw rocks. Find yet another lakefront playground with a gorgeous view, or grab a bite at the cafe.
Pro Tip: You might find a rope swing and some excellent climbing trees too.
Distance: 3 miles/5km from end to end
Elevation Gain: Minimal
A short walk to the lake or a longer trek to an epic viewpoint.
Walk just a few minutes down hill to a rocky beach for lake play or make the 3 mile round trip hike to the look out point over the lake.
Pro tip: Want to play at the lake here? Bring your water shoes. The rocks here are large and a bit harder to navigate, especially for younger children.
Distance: 3 miles/5 km round trip to viewpoint
Elevation gain: 100ft/30m to the viewpoint
Easy access lake for a pick your own distance adventure.
Just a few minutes from Frankton, you’ll find Lake Hayes right along the main road. You can park at the Showground car park and head down towards the lake.
Turn right/north to walk towards a beautiful dock for photos that – at the time of our trip – was right next to a rope swing. We love a good rope swing!
Look for the reflections on the lake if it’s calm and enjoy a walk as long or short as you please. We kept it super short (under a mile).
Note: Due to the proximity to the road, this hike was lower in my list. If you’re looking for a more remote experience, I don’t recommend this one. But it’s great for those looking for easier access!
Pro Tip: In spring time we saw lots of ducklings, some even nibbled our toes!
The part of the loop we did was quite exposed to the sun. Be prepared with sun protection.
Distance: 5 miles/8km loop
Elevation Gain: 475ft/150m
A quiet lake nestled in the rolling green hills.
7km down a gravel road lined with sheep covered, rolling green hills is Moke Lake.
Walk the full loop or select an out and back section that suits you (like we did). Either way, you’re in for a gorgeous time in a space that feels a bit away from town, more quiet and tucked away.
Pro tip: Spend the night at Moke Lake (DOC managed) campground to enjoy a quiet sunset over the lake.
Distance: 4.3 miles/7km loop
Elevation Gain: 600ft/200m
Some of our favorite food in New Zealand is here in Queenstown. Don’t leave without trying these spots.
Ferg Burger is hugely popular. The line can get crazy long. We recommend calling ahead to order takeaway. You get to skip the line and the lake is just a couple blocks away for a picnic.
Ferg Bakery is full of extraordinary meat pies, breads, and treats. Grab a meat pie or slice of veggie pizza for lunch or a focaccia to include with your camp-cooked dinner. And don’t forget an egg pie and a donut for breakfast.
Their chocolate is incredible in any form. Most recently, we shared the banana sundae with white chocolate hazelnut ice cream and it was so good we came back the next night to have it again. Enjoy it along the lake or in the upstairs lounge with a view.
Other Queenstown Mentions + Day Trips
In addition to activities right in and around town, there are a few extraordinary day trips with kid-friendly things to do around Queenstown.
St. Omer Playground
While the play equipment isn’t much to write home about itself, it is right on the lake and the beach has arguably the best skipping rocks I’ve ever seen.
Milford Sound + Fiordland NP
Part of Queenstown’s charm as an adventure hub is it’s proximity to other incredible destinations.
Number one on that list is Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park. You can make it a day trip with a guided tour by bus, airplane or helicopter, or take it slow with a camper van hire. Drive 4 hours to camp along lake Te Anau. Then take your time exploring Milford Road with its many incredible walks. Spend a night at Milford Lodge. A cruise on the sound is once in a lifetime, bucket list experience
Take the beautiful 1 hour drive along the lake to Glenorchy. Stop at Mrs. Woolly’s for more incredible meat pies, see the boat house, or feed farm animals at the Glenorchy Animal Experience.
Bungee jump off the bridge where bungee jumping was invented. Walk along the cute shops in town and stop for fudge at The Remarkables Sweet Shop or treats at Patagonia Chocolates (again). Walk amongst the fall colors along the river.
Ready for a trip to Queenstown?
Queenstown is full of experiences to make family memories whether you’re traveling from down the street or halfway around the world. It is somewhere we’ve been drawn back to again and again. And if you can sneak away from the kids, take turns, or have older children along, be sure to add some adrenaline activities in too like bungee, parasailing, canyon swing, or jetboating!
Going to the North Island? Check out 8 Epic Day Trips in Auckland Region.