New Zealand Queenstown

How to have the BEST 24 hours in Queenstown

Spending 24 hours in Queenstown on a budget – can it be done? Why yes, yes it can. Read on to find out more about the best Cafe’s, hikes and sunset spots!

We’ve been living in Queenstown since July 2018 and as you may have seen from our Instagram & Facebook – we are absolutely loving life here. Queenstown is a stunningly beautiful town. Plus, there’s lots of things to do in Queenstown. And what’s even better is that a lot of my favourite things here are free. I guess, that’s the beauty of living in such a naturally majestic place.

Built around Lake Wakatipu with ragged mountains as far as the eye can see, the town of Queenstown has been a popular tourist destination for decades. Notorious for being expensive, I’m here to prove that it can be enjoyed on a tight budget.

So, let’s get down to business – here’s our top tips for getting the most out of your 24 hours in Queenstown.

If you’re a keen photographer you’ll love our guide to 27 photos that prove Queenstown is a photographers paradise

How do I spend a day in Queenstown?

  1. Have breakfast at Bespoke Kitchen, next to the Skyline Gondola or The Boatshed on the Frankton Walking Track
  2. Take the Skyline Gondola and marvel in the views at the top, then, have some fun on the luge up there
  3. Go for a walk at Bob’s Cove, 15 minute drive from Queenstown and very photogenic with its bright blue waters
  4. Go for a hike at Moke Lake and marvel at the Lord of the Rings-esque scenery
  5. Grab a takeaway dinner and eat it onboard Perky’s Floating Bar in Lake Wakatipu
  6. Watch the sunset at One Mile Car Park at the end of town or out at Wilsons Bay

First stop on your 24 hours in Queenstown should be breakfast with a view

I love Bespoke Kitchen on Isle Street, just below the Skyline Gondola. It specializes in healthy goodness and is open for breakfast & lunch. Breakfast here will set you back approximately $15-$20. Even though the coffee here is awesome my recommendation is to wait to have your caffeine hit at your next stop.

Other recommendations for breakfast in Queenstown are Vudu at 16 Rees Street and The Boatshed at Frankton Marina (approximately a 15 minute drive from Queenstown).

wilsons baby, queenstown, new zealand

Second stop of your 24 hours in Queenstown is the Skyline Gondola

Yep, the ticket for the Skyline Gondola is not the cheapest but I promise the view from the top is worth it. An adult pass (including 3 luge rides) is $57. Once at the top be sure to take lots of photos/selfies from the viewing platform. And watch the famous AJ Hackett bungy in action then, grab a coffee from their onsite cafe before making your way up to the surprisingly fast luge. This is definitely one of the best things to do in Queenstown with kids! You could spend several hours here, up above it all but you’re on a tight schedule remember. So, down you go for your next stop.

Next stop on your 24 hours in Queenstown is to the bright blue waters of Bob’s Cove

Grab a sandwich or pie from Fergbaker on Shotover Street (approx. $8). Then, hop in your car to drive 15 minutes to one of my favourite places in all of Queenstown – Bob’s Cove. A turquoise water paradise surrounded by native bush. Here, you can simply laze on the lake beach and take it all in or walk the steep hill up to Picnic Point for the epic views. My recommendation is to eat your lunch here while taking in the beaut views before making your way down.

couple travelling queenstown

Venture into the wilderness at Moke Lake

On your drive back into Queenstown swing a left down Moke Lake Road to witness the Lord of the Rings-esque scenery of Moke Lake. It is a gravel road so drive slowly, plus there’s lots of lambs and rolling green hills on your drive in that I’m sure you’ll want to photograph. Spend an hour taking photos along the lakes edge.

If you want to hike around Moke Lake it will take you about an hour and a half. It’s one of the best (& thankfully easiest hikes in Queenstown). More of my favorite hikes in the area include Queenstown Hill hike, Wye Creek track and Lake Alta track on top of the Remarkables. For the hiker in your life why not consider one of these awesome gifts for hikers.

moke lake queenstown

Dinner stop of your 24 hours in Queenstown

You’re probably getting hungry after all that hiking, so it’s time for dinner, And because you’re on a budget my suggestion for dinner would be to grab a takeaway and go to one of our favorite spots to eat it.

In Queenstown our top suggestions for a takeaway are:

Then hop on board Perky’s Floating Bar – a boat permanently docked in the lake where you can bring your own food & purchase reasonably-priced drinks. Laze on a beanbag and watch the madness of Queenstown around you. Perky’s is also a great place to chat to locals.

bobs cove, queenstown

Now, it’s sunset o’ clock

To finish the day on a high, walk along the lake to One Mile Car Park for one of the best sunset spots in town. Bring a bottle of wine and a picnic blanket. Perhaps some cheese & crackers too. Then watch the majestic mountains turns a hazy pink for a few moments. Some other great sunset spots are Wilson’s Bay – a 15 minute drive away towards Glenorchy and Sunshine Bay beach.

Fun fact – most days of the year you can legally drink your own booze along the lakefront in Queenstown!

Did you know that New Zealand is one of the first countries in the world to witness the sunset, so, in my opinion watching the sunset is one for the bucket-list and is of the best New Zealand Summer activities!

How much time do I need in Queenstown?

I recommend allowing between 5 – 7 days in Queenstown. There really is so much to do in Queenstown from jetboating on the Shotover River to a scenic helicopter tour with an alpine landing, after all it’s the adventure capital of the world. If you’re really short on time then 2 nights would be sufficient for this stunning town!

What do locals do in Queenstown?

I’m a local, and I spend my days off hiking, my favorites hikes are the Tiki Trail and Sawpit Gully in Arrowtown. I also love Milford Sound and if I have more than 2 days off I’ll try to make it down there to go hiking, go on a boat cruise and take some awesome photos. And of course local kiwi’s love coffee, drinking coffee is a religion in New Zealand – the best coffee in town can be found at Bean Around the World on Athol Street and Vudu on Rees Street.

Where to Stay in Queenstown

cardrona hotel new zealand
The Cardrona Hotel in Cardrona

Glebe Apartments – centrally located (next to Queenstown Gardens in the CBD) these stylish apartments are a great option. You can choose from Studio, One; Two or Three bedroom apartments.

Cranbury Court Apartments – are again centrally located on Glebe Road, just a 5-minute walk from the CBD. FreshChoice supermarket is also close by. You can chose from One, Two or Three bedroom apartments.

Apartments at Spinnaker Bay – luxurious apartments with great lake views, these apartments are located on Frankton Road. You can walk the Frankton Track into the CBD – taking about 25 minutes. The apartments here are very stylish – choose from One, Two or Three bedroom apartments.

The Whistler Apartments – also located on Gorge Road, these apartments are a very popular choice in Queenstown. Just a 5-minute walk from the center of Queenstown. There are two supermarkets very close by – Raeward Fresh and Freshchoice. Choose from One or Two bedroom apartments.

And there you have it – our 24 hours in Queenstown on a budget

No doubt Queenstown is an epic place to visit. It is after all the postcard for New Zealand tourism. You’re spoiled for choice with things to do from bungy jumping to white water rafting to visiting the region’s many wineries. But as you’ve probably guessed, my favourite thing to do in Queenstown is to explore the natural beauty New Zealand is renowned for. I have to admit my favourite spot is Bob’s Cove, it’s my happy place here in Queenstown. See – I told you at the start- 24 hours in Queenstown on a budget can be done!

UPDATE – This July we waved goodbye to our gorgeous home of Queenstown, New Zealand. We made the difficult decision of moving to Ireland because of Covid, visa issues and my pregnancy.

Tell me – what’s your favourite place in Queenstown? I would love to hear about it in the comments.

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Queenstown can be enjoyed on the cheap. Here's our top tips for getting the most out of your 24 hours in Queenstown on a budget.
#queenstownnewzealand #queenstownphotography
Queenstown can be enjoyed on the cheap. Here's our top tips for getting the most out of your 24 hours in Queenstown on a budget.
#queenstownnewzealand #queenstownphotography
Queenstown can be enjoyed on the cheap. Here's our top tips for getting the most out of your 24 hours in Queenstown on a budget.
#queenstownnewzealand #queenstownphotography

14 replies on “How to have the BEST 24 hours in Queenstown”

I’m finally getting to go to NZ later this year and am dying to visit Queenstown more than any other city there! I’ve heard only good things, and it’s easy to see why everyone raves about it – it’s absolutely gorgeous. It seems like you just get beautiful views all the time – whether you’re hiking, eating, drinking, hanging out with friends – the views are everywhere.

There are so many gorgeous things to do around Queenstown!! And the food sounds amazing too. The Gondola sounds a bit expensive, what is the luge? I can only think of the winter version of luge. It really looks like there are so many great hiking options nearby.

I agree the gondola is expensive, we managed to get a locals pass for only $40 which is an absolute bargain. The best way I can describe the luge is a go-cart without an engine that you stop by pulling the handles towards you, it’s a lot of fun 🙂

Queenstown looks like a beautiful place to live or visit. The natural scenery there is stunning. The hike to picnic point looks really nice. I would love to visit the area one day.

I don’t care how much a gondola ride is to a vantage point that gives you a stunning vista. there is a 100% chance that I’ll go on it to see the view. This place looks wonderful! especially at sunset.

What a cool place to move to! I’ve never been so I can’t offer any advice on new places to check out but now that you’re there I imagine you’ve got so much material to work with. You’re right NZ is so naturally beautiful!

Love love LOVE Queenstown – I’d return in a heartbeat! Such beautiful photos and the gondola sounds amazing, we ran out of time when we were there so it’s a good excuse to return 😉

I LOVE this!

We only got to spend one morning in Queenstown before catching our flight, but ever since I laid my eyes on the views (and those amaaazing ridge-walks on the surrounding mountains) I’ve wanted to go back!!

We went up on the gondola, and then kept hiking up to Bob’s Peak, just above where the paragliders jump off a cliff. Have you been up there? It had SUCH gorgeous views!!

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