Queenstown can be a super expensive town to live in as well as to visit. Especially if you have children. There is so many different attractions, shops, cafes and restaurants where you could easily spend a fortune in one day.
But Queenstown’s most beautiful attraction is for sure the nature all around. Lake Wakatipu and the stunning mountains all around give you countless free options on outdoor activities for kids in Queenstown. Only the weather needs to be pleasant for it.
We love exploring, we love all sorts of outdoor activities, and we love to do it all with our children together since they were born. Having children has never been a STOP for us with doing stuff and go places. We love escaping this town as well as once you live here, you get bored with it. Bored might not be the right word. But nobody likes to do the same activities and walks every day again and again. And we do stuff almost every day after school. So even the kids want to explore other areas as well. Which is giving me an idea for a next post. So about one day escapes with children you can read very soon too, I promise.
In this post I am going to give you couple of ideas on some free activities you can do outdoor with you children when you visit Queenstown, or even if you live here you might find some of these tips helpful. Some are full day, some only for couple of hours after school. All of them are accessible by walking from town so you don’t even need to use a car.
Walking through Queenstown gardens is like walking through a beautiful botanical garden! There is not much free parking in Queenstown left, one of them is right here by the gardens, next to Queenstown Ice Arena and a skate park.
Walking to Queenstown gardens takes you only couple of minutes from the town. Walking through can take you from 15 minutes to couple of hours. There is a huge variety of native as well as exotic plants and trees, a pond with ducks and a little fountain which has a light effect at night.
You can find couple of tennis courts and lawn bowl there too!
All around there park there is a Frisbee golf available to play for free which is an amazing activity for adults as well as kids. Its super fun and if you are not in hurry you can make a picnic somewhere on the way too with stunning views to town, the lake and the mountains around. If you don’t have your own Frisbee you can hire them in Small Planet shop in town.
There is a rose garden on top as well which is beautiful when in bloom and there are some bigger rocks around where our children always have fun climbing on them and jumping down.
On the way to town from gardens you will walk around Queenstown’s’s recently renovated play ground for children. You can just sit there and enjoy the view to the lake while they play. During the summer the beach will be full of people who are often training some circus activities like slack line, acro yoga etc.
One big attraction in Queenstown is Skyline Gondola. I do understand why – it’s the easiest accessible place to the top with a breath taking view.
Going up to by Gondola is not the cheapest ride though. If you live in Queenstown’s long-term you can get a year-pass for around $80 for an adult which is all right and then you can use it anytime you want.
But for us even that is pointless. We always walk up as it’s a nice walk, good exercise for the kids as well as for us, doesn’t take long so can be done even after school (especially when Natalia’s school is right under the entrance to the track).
There is couple of different ways how you can go up but the most common is called Tiki trail. The entrance is to the left from the entrance on gondola. If you walk up as an adult n your own then it takes approximately 45 minutes to get up to the restaurant. For us, when we walk with our two children (5 and 3 years old), it takes up to two hours. And that is with a lot of distractions which are on the way.
There are some wooden sculptures on the way, wooden seats they can sit in and you can make a photo 😉 If you go up in the right time of the year you can find lot of raspberries and boysenberries on the way which is always the biggest distraction for us!
There is couple of platforms for zip tracks on the way as well which is super exciting to watch for the little ones.
It is a quite steep walk up, partly there are stairs, but it’s definitely manageable and our children are walking the whole way without us carrying them.
There are toilets on the top, if you want to spend some money then you can get an ice cream, any drinks or anything to eat in the restaurant. Luging is quite fun as well but that’s not a free activity anymore. Definitely a fun activity for the children though!
From the top you can enjoy an absolutely amazing view overlooking Queenstown and the Lake Wakatipu. You can also watch some crazy people doing bungee jumping from up there.
Queenstown Hill is an up-hill walk which is starting just a minutes away from the town as well. It’s very popular as it’s accessible from town on foot or if you have a car there is a little car park right by the entrance off Belfast Terrace.
This walk takes around 2 hours round to an adult. With children usually we count with twice as much time and if we are quicker it’s a bonus. It’s quite steep at the start, but if you won’t be asking your children “are you tired?” they are pretty much capable of walking what you tell them to if you won’t be pushing them with time.
We always try to distract them from thinking about the walking by itself by different activities. Often it is raspberries or boysenberries picking if it’s the right time of the year. But you can make lot of stops to enjoy the view. Play games like Who is going to be the first one to spot…. We are even teaching them about different trees and plants etc. You can build stone tower on the way (there is one spot on the way where there is a lot of them).
On the top of the hill there is a steel sculpture called Basket of Dreams, you can sit into it and enjoy an outstanding view of the Lake Wakatipu and surrounding mountains.
Frankton Arm Walkway
This is a lakeside walk you can access from the town easily and turn around and walk back anytime you feel like it. There is no uphill, it’s an easy walk for children as well, can be done easily on bikes with them too if you prefer.
If you don’t have your own bike there is plenty of rentals in town.
The start of this trail is right by the gardens where there is the kid’s playground. You walk around the whole gardens first or you can go across and down again on the other side behind the Ice Arena.
Then you just follow the trail around lake. First it leads along a street (Park Street). At the end of it right before the trail officially starts you can find a tire swing on the right hand side by the lake, which can be a good distraction for children 🙂
This walk goes all the way to Frankton and then it continues to the other side all the way to Kelvin Heights. Walking to Frankton takes up to two hours, with children around three hours one way.
In about three quarters of the way there is Marina where you find a cafe and a brewery for some refreshment if needed. Public toilets are at the end in Frankton.
If you’re really keen you can walk all the way to Kelvin Heights. The trail is gorgeous, there are some playgrounds on the way and can be a beautifully spend whole day in summer with your family. From the end you can catch water taxi back to town so that you are not walking 4 hours back again.
When you cross the bridge to the other side of the lake there is Hilton Hotel where you can get something to drink and eat and also at the end on Kelvin Heights there is a cafe on a golf course.
We always love spending time on this trail over the summer when we have couple of free hours. No matter what part we do, it’s always fun. Absolutely stunning views of the mountains with snowed peaks in spring with flowers in bloom all around. Great spots to dive into the lake over hot summer days, as well as gorgeous colors of the falling leaves in autumn. No matter what time of the year, this is an easy and a beautiful trail you can do as a family together.
Explore the beautiful area without spending a fortune
There is lot of free outdoor activities for kids in Queenstown. This is just an example of couple of walks you can do with your children no matter what age without using a car to get there.
There area around Queenstown offers countless of walks you can do just by a short drive and I will write a post about it soon to give you couple of tips as well.
Hope you found this article helpful, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask through the comment box below.