Family holidays come with their fair share of stress - especially when planning a trip that the whole family will enjoy.
So this summer, why don’t you keep it local and head to Queenstown with the brood in tow.
It’s not only a great destination no matter the weather, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a kid who won’t enjoy spending time in the idyllic holiday paradise.
Boasting magical views and plenty of fun activities, as well as great food and wine, what more could your tribe want from a holiday?
To minimise the travel booking stress, The Herald have collated a list of places to stay, eat and visit this summer when heading to the South Island haven.
Places to stay
Stay in self-catering accommodation so you don’t have to eat out every meal.
Last year a brand new holiday park opened. Driftaway caters for campers, motorhomers and those wanting to stay in cabin-style accommodation. Right on the shores of the lake, it’s a pretty great spot - and you can even take the water taxi into town.
The Oaks Queenstown Shores Resort is another option with sweeping mountain-meets-lake views, only an eight-minute drive from the supermarket if you need to stock up. It’s also only a 30-minute flat lakeside meander to the centre of Queenstown. Many of the rooms have laundry facilities and kitchens are well-equipped with plenty of cupboards for stashing all those snacks that kids and teens seem to need approximately every 30 seconds when on holiday.
Of course, self-catering doesn’t mean you can’t eat out - there are more than a few options the whole family will love.
Places to eat
You’re spoiled for choice for places to eat in New Zealand’s favourite resort town. Everyone knows the “Ferg” empire and Fergburger and Fergbaker (their pies and Boston cream doughnuts have a cult following) are always a hit with kids. Little ones will love hitting up the Cookie Time Cookie Bar for shakes and ice-cream, and older carnivorous teens will be all over the menu at Flame for great ribs, steaks, burgers and skewered meats. Any of Tanoshi’s locations will suit families keen on Japanese fare.
If you’re not wanting to compromise your own dining experience - it’s your holiday too after all - the breakfast menu at foodie-favourite Sherwood is pretty family-friendly, or it’s only a 25-minute drive to picturesque Kinross winery where you can sit outside at big tables over sourdough pizzas and other delicious fare. Margo’s is great if your family likes sit-down Mexican, or Taco Medic if you’re looking for a quick bite on the run. If your family are fans of bold Asian flavours, Blue Kanu is always worth a visit for its good food and fun vibe. With current staffing shortages, it’s worth booking in advance if there’s anywhere you particularly want to go.
How to get around
So much of Queenstown is walkable so you can definitely manage on foot with a few Ubers here and there (it’s only 10 minutes from the airport) if your activities are largely around the town. Many attractions also have free shuttles to pick you up and drop you back at your accommodation. There’s a public bus system, you can rent e-bikes - or even take the ferry network from Frankton Arm to Queenstown. If you’re on a tight schedule or want to go a little further afield, there are plenty of rental car options to give you total freedom.
Things to do
There’s so much to do for families in Queenstown, no matter what your vibe is. Many will be familiar with the Skyline Queenstown gondola ride to the top of Bob’s Peak with a screamingly fun luge ride back down, but there’s been further development in the area too - especially helpful if the weather isn’t playing ball. The Upper Village opened last year and contains Kingpin (escape rooms, karaoke, VR, arcade machines, pool, table tennis, bowling and darts), family-friendly dining options - including a gelato and chocolate shop - and a new Ice Bar, which is freezing fun for everyone (top tip: daytime may be better with kids as it’s less busy).
Outdoorsy families are spoiled for choice with plenty of walking and cycling tracks for all ages or the opportunity to get out on the water (KJet is amazing for those looking for some speed). There’s paddleboarding, kayaking, rafting or - of course - a cruise on the iconic steamship TSS Earnslaw if you prefer something more scenic and slower-paced. You’ll be spoiled for choice for social media-worthy vistas for your teens’ Insta, Snapchat and TikTok accounts. It’s all about making their friends jealous, right?
If your whānau are looking for an adrenaline fix, you can’t go past the world’s first-ever bungy jump over the Kawarau gorge - the breathtaking views of dramatic cliffs giving way to turquoise waters definitely help counter any fear. Or just half an hour out of town is Oxbow Adventures with their amazing jet-sprint boats and custom-built four-wheel-drive, four-wheel-steer off-roaders which will literally go anywhere - including places that look like they shouldn’t.
And if you’re looking for something a bit different that will appeal to all, Buzzstop Bee and Honey Centre does an excellent tour of its beehives. Don a suit and get up close and personal with the bees, you’ll even get to spin your own honey. The tour is fascinating and you’ll learn so much about a world of natural magic you had no idea existed.
While Arrowtown is technically not under the Queenstown bracket, it’s only 20 minutes away from central holiday destination and is great for anyone with kids. Start with a visit to the Lakes District Museum & Gallery where they can learn all about the story of gold in a fun interactive way, then take them out to have a go at panning in the river itself. Of course, they won’t let you leave town without a visit to the Remarkable Sweet Shop and there are plenty of family-friendly places to eat too.
Queenstown is definitely a great place for a summer holiday, whether you’ve got tiny tots or towering teens. With plenty to do, see and eat, along with the ever-present calmness of the mountains and lake, there’s something for every taste, type and temperament when visiting Queenstown.
For more to see and do in Queenstown, see queenstownnz.co.nz