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

11 of the best photography spots in Queenstown



Photography in Queenstown – a local’s guide to the best photography spots in Queenstown!

We moved to Queenstown in July 2018. I was lucky enough to transfer here with my job, we were previously living in the sunny Bay of Islands on the North Island, but alas a change was due and now we’re here among the snow-capped mountains of the South Island.

We are incredibly lucky to live in one of the most beautiful towns in the world. But as pretty as it is, Queenstown is not without its problems. As with all resort towns long-term accommodation is a nightmare to find. We got lucky with a cute two bedroom place just outside of town, but the process was stressful – we ended up living in  a cheap hotel for two weeks while we waited for our apartment to become available. Anyway, the pros and cons of living in Queenstown is a story for another day.

11 of the Best Photography Spots in Queenstown

So, here we go our guide to the best photography spots in Queenstown including 27 of our prettiest pictures. You can bet it will convince you to visit. P.S if you have more time I urge you to explore more of this gorgeous region on an epic South Island Road Trip.

  1. Bob’s Cove
  2. Glenorchy
  3. Skyline Gondola in Queenstown
  4. Fernhill
  5. Moke Lake
  6. Doubtful Sounds
  7. Arthurs Point
  8. Sunshine Bay Walking Track
  9. Cromwell
  10. Helicopter flight to Milford Sound
  11. Cardrona Hotel

If you plan on visiting Queenstown for a vacation only then you HAVE to check out my guide to 24 hours in Queenstown

1. Bob’s Cove

15 minute drive from Queenstown on the Glenorchy road is Bob’s Cove. One of my favorite spots in the Queenstown area. You can chose to go for a short and easy walk around the lake here, or if you’re feeling more active hike up the steep hill to Picnic Point. Here, at Picnic Point is where the best views are.

2. Glenorchy

Approximately 40 minutes drive from Queenstown is the cute and extremely photogenic town of Glenorchy. The drive here in itself is a sight for sore eyes, with the drive consistently named as one of the most photogenic in the world by media outlets. Whilst in Glenorchy be sure to take a photo outside the bright red boat shed. There are also a few cafes here to get your caffeine fix, if you want to try a yummy kiwi pie – then, Mrs Woolies General Store is your place.

This Lord of the Rings guided tour includes stops at many sights in Glenorchy and departs from Queenstown CBD.

Additional tip | If you have a 4WD vehicle drive further afield into Paradise for truly stunning South Island scenery.

glenorchy, new zealand

3. Skyline Gondola in Queenstown

From Queenstown you can hop on the Skyline gondola for approximately $79 which includes some luge rides. Our top photography tip for the Skyline gondola is to walk up to the take-off point for Paragliding – just follow the signs for NZone paragliding. You can grab a coffee or some food from the restaurant on-site at Skyline, sit on the balcony for great views of Queenstown.

4. Fernhill

Fernhill is a neighborhood just outside the town of Queenstown. Put simply, it’s the very steep hill at the edge of the lake – about a 20 minute walk from town. The best views here can be seen on the walk from the Heritage hotel into town via the walking track. Sunset is pretty spectacular from this spot too.

5. Moke Lake

Moke Lake is a 20 minute drive from Queenstown on the Glenorchy road, just take the turn off called Moke Lake Road. The scenery here is very Lord of the Ring’s, in fact Moke Lake is a very popular filming location for many TV series and movies.You can walk around Moke Lake on the loop track which takes approximately 90 minutes.

6. Doubtful Sounds

Doubtful Sounds is a full-day trip from Queenstown, it’s the less-visited sister of Milford Sound. But in my opinion Doubtful Sound is even more spectacular, not only is it less-crowded with just two boats on the water at any one time it is also much larger. You can book a day trip to Doubtful Sound through many of the tourist shops in Queenstown or online. If you do plan on self-driving to Doubtful Sound, we highly recommend spending the night in the nearby towns of Te Anau or Manapouri.

One of the best tours you can book in Milford is this glass-bottomed luxury catamaran that will surely get you the best photos of this stunning natural wonder!

doubtful sounds cruise

7. Arthurs Point

Arthurs Point is a suburb of Queenstown about a 10 minute drive from town. The best views here can be seen from the famous Onsen Hot Pools (book in advance!) or the Nugget Point Hotel. FYI – all these photos below were taken from our balcony at Nugget Point Hotel.

Arthurs Point, Queenstown

8. Sunshine Bay to Queenstown Walk

You can start the Sunshine Bay walk from Queenstown at One-Mile Carpark, the return journey will take you approximately 2 hours in total. Alternatively, you can drive to Sunshine Bay beach about a 10 minute drive from town and just walk some of the path before returning to your car. The best photo spot here is from the jetty at Sunshine Bay beach.

9. Cromwell

The commuter town of Cromwell is a 45 minute drive from Queenstown, it is a huge fruit-growing and grape-growing region. There are also a selection of cafes and restaurants in Cromwell if you fancy stopping here for lunch or dinner. The best views in Cromwell can be seen from the jetty in the old town.

10. Up in the air – a helicopter ride to Milford Sounds

The ultimate bucket list item whilst in Queenstown is a helicopter ride to the famous Milford Sound. This trip will vary in price depending on the company you choose, if you have a little more money in your pocket try to book a trip that includes a landing on a glacier.

This helicopter tour includes an alpine landing and is one of the most luxurious helicopter tours in the area!

11. The Cardrona Hotel

The Cardrona Hotel is one of the oldest bars in New Zealand and is located on the road to Wanaka, about a 45 minute drive from Queenstown. Be sure to stop in for food or a beer, especially on a sunny day as the Cardrona Hotel has a huge beer garden.

cardrona hotel new zealand

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.

The best photography spots in Queenstown

Phew guys, and that’s a wrap on the best photography spots in Queenstown. Hopefully these photos have captured your imagination enough to make you want to visit Queenstown and take heaps of photos.

We love it here, we really do – there’s so much to do and see. As is the case in the rest of New Zealand it is expensive, but most of these photo’s were taken in places that are free to enjoy.

Of course, if you have any questions feel free to ask – we’ve been living in Queenstown for a year and consider ourselves ‘kinda experts’. And last but not least – please tell me, where was your favourite spot in Queenstown from this list?!

Why not read | A locals guide to Queenstown

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Introducing 27 of the best photography spots in Queenstown and how to get there. Plus all of our local secrets to convince you to visit.
Introducing 27 of the best photography spots in Queenstown and how to get there. Plus all of our local secrets to convince you to visit.
#queenstownphotography