Top Summer Activities in Queenstown – New Zealand’s Adventure Capital

There is a reason behind the fact that Queenstown has been branded as the adventure capital of New Zealand.

I don’t think there is an outdoor activity that’s not possible to do in here, maybe surfing, for obvious reasons, it’s way too far to the sea.  Though I am not going to be surprised if river surfing becomes a thing very soon. 

Before this website became my full time job, I worked in Queenstown as a booking agent, meaning I booked the activities for tourists coming through. Thanks to my job I got to try a lot of them and certainly have my personal favourites.

Some of them helped me overcome my fears whilst others made my jaw drop to the floor because of the beauty I got to witness. One thing for sure, they were all loads of fun and I would love to do them again. If you ever make your way to Queenstown you should try them out too!

Queenstown features on every single one of my travel itineraries in New Zealand, so make sure to check them out!

9 of my favourite summer activities in Queenstown

1. Rafting

Going down one of the rapids
Rafting in Queenstown, New Zealand
My rafting team

The Shotover river, one of several locations that Queenstown Rafting operates on, becomes an endless fun full of rapids that can easily throw you off the boat. Some of them received some creative names (toilet bowl was one of them).

Don’t get scared away! Safety standards are really high in New Zealand so as long as you listen to your guides you’ve got nothing to worry about. My advice is to do it after it was raining and the water level rises to at least grade 4, anything below that and the rafting turns into leisurely boat ride. 

Best time for rafting is the spring and early summer when the water levels remain high from the snowmelt coming down the mountains. 

Cost from  NZD 239 

Bookings: Shotover River White Water Rafting

2. Bungy Jumping

The Ledge Bungy Queenstown
Nevis Bungy, Queenstown
Nevis Bungy, Queenstown
Kawarau Bridge Bungy, Queenstown

Go big or go home, in other words if you decide to take the leap, why not do it three times? I’ve done the ultimate combo and bungy jumped 3 times in one day, including the highest in Oceania Nevis Bungy! Sounds crazy? Damn right it is!

At the end of the day you will be more tired than ever in your life from all that adrenaline pumping into your system. 

AJ Hackett is the original bungy company and operate many of the best bungy jumps in New Zealand. 

Cost: Ledge Bungy: 205$NZD            Nevis Bungy: 275$NZD         Kawarau Bridge Bungy: 205$NZD          All 3: 480$NZD

Bookings: Ledge Bungy / Nevis Bungy Kawarau Bridge Bungy

3. Scenic Flight To Milford Sound

Scenic Flight, New Zealand. Glenorchy Air
Scenic Flight, New Zealand. Glenorchy Air
Milford Sound from the air.
West Coast, NZ from the air

If you have already made it to New Zealand you have to visit Milford Sound. Why not do it in style? Book yourself onto a flight and soar above those stunning mountains and glaciers.

I thought the road to Milford Sound was fantastic, but it was nothing in comparison to this! Did you also know that Queenstown airport was named one of the most scenic airports in the world?


Bookings: Air Milford

4. Parasailing

Parasailing in Queenstown, New Zealand

Parasailing in Queenstown, New Zealand. View onto Fernhil
Parasailing in Queenstown, New Zealand. View towards the Remarkables

Whilst it may not be one of the most adrenaline filled activities, parasailing definitely offers a unique view over Queenstown.

You will get to sail over lake Wakatipu and enjoy the fantastic views over the Remarkables, Cecil and Walter’s Peak, as well as Ben Lomond and Bowen Peak. What I also liked about it, is that personal cameras were allowed on the flight.

It may seem like a normal thing to you, but actually a lot of companies in Queenstown prohibit that due to safety reasons. 

COST: $159NZD SOLO or $129NZD per person TANDEM

5. Canyon/Valley Swing

Nevis Canyon Swing, Queenstown

Nevis Canyon Swing, Queenstown
Nevis Canyon Swing, Queenstown

If bungy jumping 3 times in one day still seems like not enough for you, you can also book yourself onto the biggest swing in the world – 70 meter high, and 300 meter arch, this swing will make you scream at the top of your lungs.

To make it even more scary you can do it upside down! There are a couple of places offering canyon swings in Queenstown and I enlisted them below. 

Nevis Swing: $225NZD                                       Ledge Swing: $165NZD                        Shotover Canyon Swing: $249NZD

Bookings: Shotover Canyon Swing 

6. Jet Boat Ride

The beginning of the road into the Skippers Canyon. Gorge Rd can be seen in the distance
Skippers Canyon, Queenstown, New Zealand
Skippers Canyon, Queenstown, New Zealand
Skippers Canyon Jet Boating

Originally developed by Mr Bill Hamilton back in the ’50s to allow local farmers move freely around their huge sheep stations on the shallow New Zealand rivers, jet boating quickly became one of the most sought after activities amongst tourists in Queenstown.

There is a lot to choose from and I have done them all, but two stand out from the rest thanks to the views and excitement that they offer: is Skippers Canyon Jet Boat ride and the Shotover Jet.

Pricing: Shotover Jet: $149NZD                  Skippers Canyon: $155NZD

Bookings: Shotover Canyon Jet Boat / Skippers Canyon Jet Boat

7. Luging


Once in a while you should unleash the little kid in you! Whilst luging may seem like a great activity for the young ones, there are plenty of adults who join the fun! I went luging 4 times all together and if someone asked me again I would do it once more without giving it a second thought!

Luging is definitely one of my all time favourites and each time puts a big smile on my face! Costs vary and become significantly cheaper for multiple rides combining it with the Queenstown Gondola ticket too. 

Cost: from NZD 63

Bookings: Queenstown Skyline Gondola and Luge

8. Hiking


Hiking is a free activity that is very popular in Queenstown. There’s plenty of different hikes depending on whether you want to do a 30 minute stroll around Bob’s Cove or a 12 hour cruise-hike up Cecil Peak.

It’s gone into much more detail into a post solely dedicating to hiking in the Queenstown area. 

9. Photography


Along with hiking, Queenstown and photography go hand in hand. There’s several locations either directly in Queenstown or a short drive away, some which require hiking, some that you can see from the window of your vehicle.

I’ve created a separate post on the photography spots in Queenstown.  

The most vital piece of information in this post is about the website called Get You Guide

It’s a search engine for tours and activities offered in the towns you will visit. The advantage of using this site is keeping all your bookings in one place without the need to remember them all! 

If you plan on visiting Queenstown in the summer, make sure to book your accommodation as far in advance as possible. Queenstown is a popular place and it tends to book out in the summer! 

You could easily spend over a week doing all the activities in Queenstown and there’s loads more than the 9 I have enlisted. If you’re on a budget and can only afford 1 activity then make sure you do a good amount of research beforehand. 


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