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?
- Have breakfast at Bespoke Kitchen, next to the Skyline Gondola or The Boatshed on the Frankton Walking Track
- Take the Skyline Gondola and marvel in the views at the top, then, have some fun on the luge up there
- Go for a walk at Bob’s Cove, 15 minute drive from Queenstown and very photogenic with its bright blue waters
- Go for a hike at Moke Lake and marvel at the Lord of the Rings-esque scenery
- Grab a takeaway dinner and eat it onboard Perky’s Floating Bar in Lake Wakatipu
- 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).
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.
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.
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:
- Caribe Latin Kitchen for excellent quesadillas & burrito’s
- Fat Badgers for yummy american-style pizza
- Erik’s for kiwi-style fish & chips
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.
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
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!
Tell me – what’s your favourite place in Queenstown? I would love to hear about it in the comments.
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