Considered to be the adventure capital of the world, picturesque Queenstown offers a smorgasbord of adrenaline-pumping activities and stunning natural attractions.
From the sheer magnificence of Milford Sound to the aptly-named Remarkables mountain range, this little South Island city combines beauty with adventure like few others before it — think skydiving, jet boating, hiking, bungee jumping and so much more.
And, if you’re based in Christchurch, it’s easy to make the drive south and explore all that the area has to offer on one of the several Queenstown Day Trips from Christchurch.
Here's all you need to know about Queenstown, one of the most exciting day trips from Christchurch.
Queenstown sits on the shores of sparkling Lake Wakatipu on New Zealand's South Island. It's in the southern half of the island, roughly 480 kilometers from Christchurch.
To reach Queenstown from Christchurch, you'll drive south down a series of Highways 1, 79 and 8, passing by many of the south's most iconic towns and attractions. The route takes you past Lake Tekapo and the Lindis Valley, among others. The drive takes about 6 hours without stops.
The easiest public transport option to reach Queenstown from Christchurch is the InterCity Queenstown-Chirstchurch bus, with the journey taking around 8 hours.
The most popular way to visit Queenstown from Christchurch is by taking a guided tour. This is the perfect option for those who don't have their own transport, or if you'd prefer someone else to do all the driving and organizing. Many companies offer Queenstown tours from Christchurch, with most including additional attractions along the way.
Day tours to Queenstown from Christchurch typically begin with a pickup from your accommodation in Christchurch before setting off for the long drive. After meeting your friendly guide, driver and possible fellow travelers, you'll commence your journey south.
Depending on the tour, you'll make stops for some of the South Island's top attractions and experiences, such as Lake Tekapo and its incredible Church of the Good Shepherd. The most direct route passes the incredible Lindis Pass, with its beautiful wide open spaces, before continuing south to Queenstown.
As you get closer to Queenstown, you might stop at historic areas like Cromwell’s gold rush-era town, all while your guide gives you an insight into the history and culture of this unique area. Lunch and drinks are included throughout the journey.
Once you arrive in Queenstown, there’s plenty to see and do. Your tour may come to an end upon arrival, leaving you free to explore the area. Alternatively, multi-day tours will include more time for sightseeing, hikes and activities.
The most basic and budget-friendly option is simply to book a one-way guided tour from Christchurch to Queenstown. This includes pickup at your accommodation in Christchurch, transport down the south island highways, informative commentary from your guide about significant towns and attractions along the way, plus lunch and drinks.
Ideal for those seeking a more personal experience, private tours are perfect for small groups or families. These tours include the same elements as one-way guided tours, but with smaller numbers and more flexibility to tailor your tour experience.
A single-day trip packed with adventure, this tour is perfect for those looking to fit in as much sightseeing and activities as possible. You’ll be picked up from Christchurch before journeying down to Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook National Park, where you’ll have time to explore the area.
Explore the best that Queenstown has to offer with a multi-day tour. This option will include pickups from Christchurch, transport and accommodation, as well as activities like hikes, short walks or bike rides along some of New Zealand’s most picturesque trails. Options range from 2-day tours that cover the West Coast, to comprehensive 6-day tours that follow the South Island Circuit.
The price of day trips to Queenstown from Christchurch varies depending on the tour type and inclusions, but start at around US$200 per person.
A one-way guided tour costs around $220 per person, while private tours start from US$1,500 per group of up to 6 people. A day trip including Tekapo and Mount Cook costs around US$2,700 per group of up to 6 people.
2-day tours including sightseeing cost around US$1,300 to US$1,500 per person. Longer multi-day tours range from US$600 to US$2,800 per person, depending on duration and attractions.
On Queenstown tours from Christchurch, you’ll have the opportunity to experience some of New Zealand’s most picturesque attractions, such as Lake Tekapo, Mount Cook National Park and Greymouth.
Along the way, you’ll have the chance to take part in a variety of activities such as hiking, train rides, glacier exploring or helicopter rides along trails with stunning views. You may even get the opportunity to witness some of New Zealand’s wildlife up close and personal.
Once you arrive in Queenstown, there’s plenty more to explore. You can take a gondola ride to the top of Bob’s Peak and get remarkable views of Lake Wakatipu, or wander around the lively town center full of cafés, shops and restaurants. From there you could visit Arrowtown for a glimpse into New Zealand's gold mining history or go jet-boating on the Shotover River.
Queenstown is also known for its adventure activities, and you’ll have plenty of chances to try something new like bungee jumping, skydiving or white water rafting.
The best time to visit Queenstown is generally from October through April. During this period, the weather is warmer and drier, making it perfect for outdoor activities and sightseeing. However, if you’re looking for a winter getaway, Queenstown is known for its ski slopes and après-ski culture too.