Queenstown: Free things to do

Published: 03/06/2012 by itravelnz

Stretch your legs on a few of the region’s stunning walks. Favourites include the lakeside Frankton Arm Walkway, with fantastic views of the Remarkables and Frankton Arm (if it’s summer, pack your togs for a dip in Frankton); the Queenstown Hill Time Walk, with its unrivalled panorama of Queenstown; the glorious Lake Hayes Walkway, which loops around the lake with awesome lake and mountain views; Gibbston River Trail, with superb river views, wineries and historic sites along the way; and the Otago Anniversary Track, which explores the picturesque Arrow River on the outskirts of historic Arrowtown.
  • Get arty at Queenstown’s many galleries. Not surprisingly, the scenery here inspires many an artist. In town are Milford Galleries, Queenstown Central Art Gallery, Toi O Tahuna Gallery and Art Bay Gallery, or head out into the countryside and visit the studios of leading New Zealand artists including John Crump (Glenorchy), Peter Beadle  and Graham Brinsley (Arrowtown), and Ben Ho (Lake Hayes).
  • Meander through Queenstown Gardens, nestled on a quiet peninsula just out of the centre of town and with fabulous vistas of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables. A great place to catch up on your postcards or enjoy a picnic lunch.
  • Take your 4WD out to the historic goldmining area of Skippers Canyon. The road’s not for the faint-hearted (and many rental companies won’t insure your when driving it) but if you’re a confident driver, the windy road and its sheer drops will reward you with gold rush relics and spectacular scenery.
  • Soak up the gold rush charm at tiny Arrowtown, just outside of Queenstown. Blink and you’ll miss it, as the saying goes, but you don’t want to miss this historic village. It’s cute as a button and a living tribute to its past as a gold mining Mecca.
  • Step back into the past at the Early Chinese Settlement on Arrowtown’s Buckingham Street and see for yourself how the Chinese settlers lived during the town’s gold rush hey-days of the late 1800s.
  • Chill out, or walk the loop, at beautiful Lake Hayes, just outside of Queenstown. This is one of New Zealand’s most photographed lakes, and you’ll soon see why! Take your togs and a barbecue lunch, and enjoy those glorious lake and mountain vistas - they’re free!
  • Take the magnificent scenic drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy. This tiny one-horse town is a top spot for film makers, with superb views of Lake Wakatipu and the majestic peaks and valleys that surround it. Head down to the lakefront for an alfresco lunch, or do some bird spotting on the Glenorchy Lagoon Walkway on Mull Street.
  • Check out some of the great markets in town. Favourites include Queenstown’s Original Arts & Crafts Market at Earnslaw Park on the lakefront (Saturday mornings) and the Queenstown Farmer’s Markets, a must-do for foodies, at the Anglican Church Grounds, (Corner Church and Camp Street) on Saturday mornings. There’s also a Saturday morning market beside the airport, with a selection of gourmet goods and local crafts.
  • Take a break from the tourist hustle and explore the region’s beautiful reserves. Favourites include Esplanade Picnic Area on the edge of Lake Wakatipu; Moke Lake, one of Queenstown’s hidden gems and a great swimming and picnic spot; Bob’s Cove Scenic Reserve, a popular swimming spot with lots of native birdlife; and Mount Crichton Scenic Reserve, with gold rush relics, native birds and wonderful views out to Lake Dispute and Lake Wakatipu.
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    Queenstown: Free things to do