Discover the very best things to do in Queenstown with kids. We suggest using this guide to plan an incredible family holiday in one of New Zealand’s most spectacular settings.
Tucked away in the heart of the Southern Alps, Queenstown really does have it all going on!
From towering mountains and stunning lakes to the massive range of exciting activities on offer, the adventure capital of the world genuinely offers something for everyone.
You’ve no doubt come here looking for family-friendly ideas and we’re more than happy to oblige.
Join us as we share the very best activities and sights in and around Queenstown – all of which are perfect for kids…
Discover the Most Epic Things to Do in Queenstown with Kids
Things to Do With Kids Indoors in Queenstown
Queenstown offers such an incredible variety of fun, family-friendly attractions and sights.
Appealing to both kids and adults, these indoor options are sure to entertain the whole whānau.
Go Indoor Skydiving at iFly!
Discover Queenstown’s latest thrill – iFly indoor skydive, conveniently located right in the middle of town.
This is New Zealand’s only dedicated indoor sky diving centre and it’s a whole heap of fun – even for the littlies.
With a minimum age of just 5 years old and family packs available, this is your family’s chance to experience jumping out of a plane without, well, jumping out of a plane!
Find Entertainment Galore at Thrillzone
Just down the road from iFly you’ll find Thrillzone. This one-stop-shop provides a wide range of activities that are perfect for families visiting Queenstown.
There you can Interact with multi-D motion pictures, play paintless paintball or challenge the fam to laser tag. In addition, we recommend checking out their glow in the dark mini golf and their awesome race car simulator.
There’s something for kids aged 3 years and up at Thrillzon. As an added bonus, they also have a great childcare centre called Kidz Club, where you can leave the kids to experience some of the action by themselves!
Perhaps whilst you head elsewhere for a coffee or on a short Queenstown walk?
Explore Odyssey Sensory Maze
And only next door is Odyssey Sensory Maze – a unique and sensory experience where nothing is quite what it seems!
The whole family will love the adventure as you feel your way from one illusory room to another.
Each zone offers something different, exciting and unexpected, making this a memorable experience that is suitable for all ages.
Find Your Way Out of an Escape Room
Escape rooms are amongst our favourite family experiences.Escape Quest can do one better – offering tricky challenges with a local twist.
Expect to spend an hour locked in a room together as you solve puzzles and hunt down clues in order to escape.
They also have some new VR escape games down on Steamer Wharf which are simply unbelievable!
Take a Trip Back in Time & Explore an Underwater Aquarium
Head down to the main wharf and take a trip back in time at Time Tripper – Queenstown’s underwater cinema!
This state-of-the-art animation tells the Māori legend of how Lake Wakatipu was formed, starting 90 million years ago before transporting you to present-day Queenstown.
The show lasts for 15 minutes and includes another 15 minutes at the underwater aquarium where the kids can spot eels, trout and ducks in the water.
At only $10/adult and $5/child this is unbeatable value.
Kick Up Your Heels at an Ice Bar
If Queenstown in winter is just not cold enough for you, get into one of the town’s two amazing ice bars. Both are child-friendly, offering family passes and kids’ cocktails.
Dressed like an Eskimo, you’ll get to explore this Antarctic world created with over 18 tonnes of crystal-clear ice architecture, ice furniture, and hand-made ice carvings.
The kids will love living life as a penguin in extreme temperatures of –5º and colder.
Plus, you’ll get to treat yourself to a drink too!
Bump Your Way Around the Ice
Also in the town centre you’ll find the Queenstown Gardens; this is home to the Ice Arena which is now open most of the year.
They’ve just introduced the crazy fun ice bumper cars and which a great combo, it’s another low-cost option in what is often considered an expensive part of the country. For just $30 you can enjoy ice skating, ice bumper cars and frisbee golf (whilst 3-5 year olds are just $5).
Visit the Frankton Entertainment Hub
Located on the outskirts of Queenstown, the entertainment hub at Frankton is great fun – especially on a rainy day.
Let the kids burn off some energy at the SITE indoor trampoline park (where you can use a trampoline to practice your snowboarding tricks, ready to head to the snow) or the super fun Clip n Climb at Basecamp Adventures – Queenstown’s indoor climbing and bouldering centre.
Head Outdoors in Queenstown – Family-Friendly Fun
Though Queenstown offers plenty of family friendly activities (as you’ve just seen), nobody travels to such an incredible place with plans of being cooped up inside all day!
Around nearly every corner of the Lakes District is new, stunning scenery, just waiting to take your breath away.
Whether you discover it for yourself on a family-friendly cruise, 4WD backcountry excursion, by jet boat, raft, bike or perhaps on a segway, it’s got to be seen!
Say kia ora to the famous kiwi, visit a high country farm, or take part in one of Queenstown’s famous, thrilling, adventure activities.
Whatever you choose – plan to head outside with your family whenever the weather allows.
The following are some of our favourite family-friendly Queenstown activities….
Hop Onboard the Spirit of Queenstown
Our must-do boat trip with kids is the Spirit of Queenstown.
This awesome lake cruise (which includes food and comes complete with toilets on the boat) travels further than any other lake cruise. Whilst onboard, you’ll explore secret bays and historic landmarks, all on an incredibly stable, roomy boat.
Seeing the town and mountains from this vantage point on the lake is a must-do.
Zip Around on a Jetboat!
If your family enjoys a thrill or two, we recommend checking out KJet’s jet boat ride which departs from the main pier all the way to the Kawarau River.
They’ve got great prices and regular family deals, so grab the chance to put the kiwi-invented jet boat through its paces!
Did you know? Other jetboat companies operate in and around Queenstown, including Go Orange and the original Shotover Jet.
Pay a Visit to the Birdlife Park and Meet Some NZ Natives
Slowing down the pace a little, you can’t go past the Kiwi Birdlife Park when looking to engage and entertain the kids. The park has so much to explore and their live conservation show is a crowd-pleaser!
Whilst visiting you can expect to see kiwi, kea, weka, ruru and so much more, all on this 5 acre wildlife centre. They’re dedicated to saving endangered NZ wildlife species and as such, are a fantastic organisation to support.
This should be a must do for everyone who visits Queenstown. Well worth a visit. We enjoyed a relaxed self guided tour around the park using individual audio players which were really easy to use and contained lots of interesting information. We loved the bird show and all the exhibits. Next time we will allow more time. The visit was 1.5hrs long including the bird show which was 1/2hrs long. This is a GREAT cause!Park visitor, 25 July 2021
Head Up the Gondola for Some Epic Family Fun!
And while you’re in that part of town, we recommend you head up the gondola to check out Queenstown from the Skyline.
The gondola will take you 480m above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu to the top of Bob’s Peak. From there you will enjoy 220-degree panoramic vies out over Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Walter and Cecil Peak and Queenstown.
Aside from the views, there is plenty to do at the top of the gondola too!
Zip through the trees withZiptrek Ecotours (minimum age 6) in an exciting adventure or take on the luge track with your whānau (which is suitable for practically all ages).
Hit the Slopes with the Kids
Base yourself in Queenstown or Wanaka and you’ll be as little as half an hour’s drive from five fantastic ski areas. With a world of snow to ski, snowboard, snowshoe, tube, toboggan and play in, there are lots of opportunities to enjoy the white stuff!
This is the main reason many people travel to the region in the winter season and none leave disappointed.
Snow Farm: The Ultimate in Family Fun in the Snow
If you are looking for a snow experience based around play you can’t go past the relaxed environment of the Snow Farm – New Zealand’s cross country ski area.
As well as lessons (which come complete with gear hire) they have the Snow Fun Zone which is made especially for kids. This zone includes a tubing hill as well as opportunity to make a snowman and explore a snow cave.
Too much fun!
Explore World-Class Ski Resorts in the Region
Whilst in the Southern Lakes district in the winter you’ll want to head up the mountain – but which one?
Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Cardrona Alpine Resort are all easily accessible from Queenstown and all provide children’s ski/board lessons along with childcare (for certain ages).
Each of the fields have different benefits so we recommend checking each of them out online to see what suits you best. Alternatively, you may like to ask for personal recommendations from New Zealand Travel Tips.
With the exception of Coronet Peak, the local ski area access roads are all unsealed (or only partially sealed). While they are maintained regularly throughout winter, road conditions can vary on a daily basis.
If you’re not comfortable with fitting chains or mountain driving in snow or icy conditions, you’ll be far better off letting someone else drive you to the slopes. In that case, we recommend jumping on a local shuttle.
If you’re driving, be aware of road and weather conditions. Carry chains (which can be hired from Green Toad, or may come with your care hire), a shovel, first aid kit, extra food, water and blankets.
Remember, weather can deteriorate quickly while you are skiing also.
With all of that said, the vast majority of the time everything goes precisely to plan, resulting in an incredible day up the mountain!
Free Things to Do With Your Whānau in Queenstown
Queenstown might be a hive of adventure and activity but there is still plenty of room for a good old (low-cost) kiwi holiday.
Enjoy hanging out at the beach, swimming checking out playgrounds and on rope swings!
These are our favourite free Queenstown activities – each and every one is perfect for your family.
Enjoy Frankton Beach
Frankton Beach is a great family-friendly spot.
The lake is shallow there, the water stays warm all day and you can wade far out without getting out of your depth – all of this makes it great for kids.
In addition, there are toilets and BBQ spots, shady trees to set up under and a fabulous family vibe in summer-time!
Visit Moke Lake
Moke Lake is a locals’ secret spot and one-stop outdoor playground.
It’s much warmer than Lake Wakatipu making it more pleasant for swimming. Plus you’ll find plenty of tracks to walk and bike on, including the track right round the lake.
A favourite spot for kayaking and SUPing, and you can also set up camp officially, and stay over!
Check Out the Queenstown Playground
Right in the middle of town and bordering the Queenstown Gardens is the best adventure playground. Seriously, it will make you want to be a kid again!
It’s in such an awesome location and has so many creative and fun pieces of equipment – plus there’s a lake edge cafe right there where you can grab a coffee or snack and keep an eye on the kids.
Hit the Queenstown Trail
The Queenstown Trail unveils more than 100kms of stunning tracks, opening up access to amazing scenery which can be explored by bike or on foot. Discover spectacular suspension bridges, secret swimming holes, cute cafés and wonderful wineries – all on easy biking or walking trails.
If you haven’t brought your bikes from home, Around the Basin and Chargeabout offer bike hire (including e-bikes) and a trail shuttle service if you don’t want to bike in and out.
Just 30 minutes from Queenstown (along an incredibly scenic road), Glenorchy sits at the northern tip of Lake Wakatipu, overlooked by the awe-inspiring Earnslaw Glacier. It is home to the Rees and Dart valleys and is the starting point for the famous Routeburn Track.
This really is a slice of paradise and is without doubt one of the most charming townships in the world, tucked away at the end of a road with nothing but rivers, mountains and glaciers in its back garden.
While you’re there, the kids will love to interact with the animals at Glenorchy Animal Experience.
We also suggest popping along to the lakeside to snap some family photos by the iconic red shed.
As we mentioned, the 45km lakeside drive offers breathtaking views of Lake Wakatipu. Stop at Bennetts Bluff Lookout (25kms from Queenstown) for an amazing view of the head of the lake and an excellent photo opportunity.
Spend the Day in Arrowtown
Only 20km from Queenstown, Arrowtown is a great destination for an inexpensive, chilled morning or afternoon with the kids.
This historic town is fun just to walk around and experience but if you’re looking for more, there are a range of great activities on offer too.
The Lakes District Museum, for example, is interactive and fun for all. They even hire out goldpans, so you can try your luck in the nearby Arrow River.
Arrowtown was born of the 1862 goldrush and is a step back in time with tree-lined streets, old miners’ cottages and a main street reminiscent of a ‘Wild West’ movie.
The Arrow River was at one time worked by thousands of goldseekers who came from around the world to toil for gold and good fortune.
Will you be as lucky?
Heading back to the township, we suggest visiting the partially restored and well-interpreted Chinese Settlement from the 1880s. During your visit, you’ll discover how the Chinese immigrants lived during the gold rush explore inside their restored huts (and Ah Lum’s store that was central to their community). The settlement is a reminder of some of the 3,500 Chinese miners and businessmen who lived in Otago during the goldrush.
Some of the region’s best biking/walking tracks also start here.
You’ll also fund yourself just a short drive from the famous Kawarau Bungy Bridge and Gibbston Valley, home to some of the region’s best wineries.
Queenstown is a remarkable place.
With so much incredible scenery and a tonne of family-friendly things to do, it’s the perfect spot for your next vacation.
Post by Meg Mackenzie of Kidz Go. This amazing website and app work together in unison to help you plan family adventures in New Zealand. Check them out today!
Photo credit: Destination Queenstown