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Cheap Car Hire Queenstown Airport
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A rental car gives you the freedom and flexibility to make the most of your time exploring Queenstown and surrounding areas. Here are a few of the many attractions around Queenstown you might like to consider checking out. The letters on the map match those below, where you'll find information about each attraction. For more ideas, check out the Queenstown Tourism website.
A. Skiing and snowboarding
Queenstown is a top visitor destination all year around, but there’s something magical about this alpine town in winter. It is internationally known for great snowboarding and skiing. All levels of experience are well catered for, and the season is one of the longest around, running from June all the way through to October.
Winter kicks off with a bang during the Queenstown Winter Festival, complete with dog derby and drag races. There’s live music, fireworks and a lively party atmosphere as people come out to celebrate.
A total of four ski fields are within easy reach of Queenstown, none more than an hour and a half away, each with their own unique character.
The closest ski field to Queenstown itself is Coronet Peak, only 20 minutes away. Coronet Peak is the only place where you can ski at night (on weekends). It has lots of diverse terrain and a robust snowmaking system. Then there’s the Remarkables, boasting sunny slopes and outstanding facilities for beginners along with chutes, bowls and a few different terrain parks. The views from the Remarkables are truly something to admire, too.
A little further afield, Cardrona is an hour from Queenstown and Treble Cone slightly beyond that.
Keen to up the ante? Why not give heli skiing a go and head up into the most pristine and untouched peaks you’ll ever see. You could also try snow shoeing or take a snowmobile for a blast.
Pick from single day passes to unlimited season access, which can be obtained from ski shops in town. Ski stores also handle the booking of equipment, transfers and lessons and are open until 9am. If you’re driving up the mountains yourselves, ensure you know how to fit snow chains on to your rental car.
B. TSS Earnslaw
There’s no better way to experience Lake Wakatipu than aboard the TSS Earnslaw. This elegant vintage steamship is a local icon - often dubbed the Lady of the Lake - and over a century old. The TSS Earnslaw has been ferrying passengers and delivering goods over Lake Wakatipu since 1921.
Step into the TSS Earnslaw’s engine room and see the steam engines doing their thing, the stokers keeping the fireboxes fuelled, and feel the heat from the boilers. A collection of old photographs and artifacts are on display in the ship’s mini museum.
Queenstown’s scenic beauty is showcased at its best on this 90 minute cruise - sparkling waters surrounded by snow capped mountain ranges. Sit back and soak in the views; enjoy a meal or beverage from the onboard cafe and bar; join in with the pianist for a jolly sing a long.
You can choose to take a regular cruise, or combine your TSS Earnslaw cruise with a visit to Walter Peak, a high country farm. At Walter Peak visitors can enjoy a guided farm tour and horse trek. This involves meeting livestock - sheep, deer, goats and highland cattle, complete with a sheepdog mustering demonstration. You can even try your hand at wool spinning, and see shearing in action. When you book a cruise package with a dining option - either lunch or dinner - you will be treated to a delicious BBQ meal and home baked treats.
The TSS Earnslaw makes several trips per day across the lake and departs from Steamer Wharf in central Queenstown, not far from rental car depots. The ship undergoes annual maintenance every year between mid May and June.
When in Queenstown don’t miss a trip over to the charming settlement of Arrowtown - approximately a 20 minute drive away in your rental car. This one time gold mining town is full of history; it sprung up during the heady heights of the Otago gold rush in the mid 19th century.
Over 60 original buildings remain - hotels, chapels, shops and houses. The Chinese settlement on the banks of the Arrow River is a highlight, with many restored buildings harking back to the gold ages.
After the gold era petered out, Arrowtown’s fortunes started to fade. It then gained popularity again as a holiday destination and today tourism is the main draw of Arrowtown. There are quaint shops and cafes, along with the Lakes District Museum on Buckingham Street, which offers an insight into the early pioneering days and life in the Southern Lakes area.
But you can still pan for gold in Arrowtown, if you wish! Try your luck in the Arrow River. Several outlets hire out gold pans and take you through the process - one even has a panning trough so you don’t need to get your feet wet.
Otherwise, there are lots of lovely walks and hikes to tackle, and it’s easy to cycle around nearby. The local golf course is highly rated.
Arrowtown is located in the Arrow basin, which was once carved by enormous glaciers. The area enjoys four distinct seasons and this is evident as the colours of the tranquil tree lined streets change. The scenery in autumn is rather stunning. At the end of April a festival is held to mark the seasonal change.
Lake Wanaka enjoys a beautiful setting below majestic mountains, and is a veritable playground for outdoor enthusiasts. The lake itself covers nearly 200 square km - there’s plenty to go around among sailors, kayakers, wind surfers, paddle boarders and jet boaters and it’s never too crowded. Unsurprisingly, the fishing is superb - the lakes, rivers and streams in the area are fertile and there’s plenty of rainbow and brown trout for fly fishers.
Off the water, there are great opportunities for hiking, climbing and canyoning. Nearby Mt Aspiring National Park is full of amazing landscapes and sights, hiking trails and glaciers, lakes and valleys.
Aviation is also a bit of a specialty in Wanaka. The Warbirds and Wheels museum is devoted to aircraft and automobiles, and every other year the Warbirds over Wanaka air show puts on a visual spectacle. Skydiving over Wanaka is always stunning, while a number of operators offer flightseeing tours over the surrounding regions - Mt Aspiring, Milford Sound, etc.
Wanaka swells in winter time as visitors flock to the slopes for skiing and snowboarding. The snow at Cardrona and Treble Cone is second to none. You can also go heli skiing or cross country skiing in the back country of Wanaka.
The local theatre, Cinema Paradiso, is very cosy and embodies the epitome of southern hospitality. Or simply sit at a lakefront cafe and gaze out over the still, crystal clear waters.
Wanaka is just an hour from Queenstown in your rental car. If you want to stay longer, Wanaka is a great place to linger. Accommodation options range from holiday parks and B&Bs to luxury lodges.
E. Over the Top Golf
Queenstown is known for a great many things, and increasingly, golf is one of them. Tucked away in the basin of Lake Wakatipu surrounded by picture perfect alps, Queenstown’s golf courses provide a stupendously scenic experience for visiting golfers. Little surprise then that Queenstown is the home of the New Zealand Open, an annual golfing tournament held every March.
If you’re coming from out of town, you might not realise that there are half a dozen individual golf courses all within half an hour from central Queenstown. Ranging from nine holes through to 18 hole championship courses, there is something to cater for everyone.
One of the most picturesque golf courses of all is at Over the Top, a par 3 course at an altitude of 1.5 km. It’s a truly unique and extreme experience. Surrounded by a back drop of tussocked hills and towering mountains, breathing in the pure fresh air, you’ll be hard pressed to match it.
Now instead of simply hitting balls off the mountain, players can attempt a hole in one, off one of four tee boxes. Eco balls are used to preserve the environment.
Access is by helicopter only. Golfers are flown in, and after playing their hole, are flown back out again. The flights are a scenic experience in themselves - whether taking an exclusive ride or sharing with others, be sure to savour every moment.
Pair a trip to Over the Top with a package visit to one of Queenstown’s other renowned golf courses - Millbrook, The Hills or Jack’s Point - for a golfing holiday that you will always remember.
Great value - thanks! Definitely will recommend you to my friends.
Jack Webber (Australia)
Was the best deal we could find and we looked hard. Very happy.
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Excellent value, We got what you promised. No hidden costs like the rip off we had in Cairns!
Mike Smith (UK)
Great for backpackers like us on a tight budget. Got to do more of the amazing things NZ offers with the money we saved. Awesome!
Sue White (UK)