Known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, the list of action-filled activities on offer in Queenstown is endless. However as most activities also come with a hefty price tag attached, it’s also a place where you can easily blow your budget. So whether you’re a money conscious traveller or are just looking for budget-friendly activities to fill the rest of your stay, here are 10 cheap or free things to do in Queenstown where you can experience the town and surrounding area on a shoestring.

Tiki Trail

The Tiki Trail is one of the best free things to do in Queenstown. This short hike takes you up Bob’s Peak through dense woodland. The trail is just 2.1km one way but is quite steep in parts so is moderately challenging. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with the most gorgeous view back down on Queenstown and The Remarkables beyond. This trail also comes out at the Queenstown Skyline complex which offers a range of activities including The Luge and gondola ride.

Tiki Trail, Queenstown

Queenstown Hill

Queenstown Hill track is another great hike to do in Queenstown. The walk up to the summit is 2.1km and takes you through pine forests, grassland and past the popular Basket of Dreams sculpture. However, unlike the Tiki Trail, you don’t get a great view of Queenstown itself from the top. Instead, you’re rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding lakes, forests and mountains.

Queenstown Hill, Queenstown


The small township of Glenorchy is a great half-day trip from Queenstown. Situated just over 45 km north along the shore of Lake Wakatipu, Glenorchy is home to a pretty pier, famous rustic red boathouse and a couple of shops and eateries. However, the highlight of the trip is the drive there and back. It’s considered one of the most scenic drives on the whole South Island. Make sure to stop off at Bennetts Bluff Lookout on the way for panoramic views down the lake’s north side.

Glenorchy, Queenstown

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The preserved gold rush village of Arrowtown is another perfect half-day trip, located just a 20-minute drive from Queenstown. Arrowtown is home to a collection of interesting attractions where you can learn all about the village’s colourful history. Highlights include its quaint main street filled with historic European and Chinese style buildings. The remnants of an old Chinese settlement where you can discover the realities of the gold rush era. Or even going gold panning in the Arrow River!

On the way to Arrowtown

Jewellery making at The Bead Shop

If you’re looking for a little break from the outdoor action, head down to The Bead Shop where you can craft your own jewellery. The shop’s walls are filled with beads and trinkets to choose from and there’s a workshop bench where you can sit and make your pieces. It’s very reasonably priced too. You just pay for the materials you use and the staff there will help add fastenings to your creations for free.

Jewellery Making in Queenstown

Happy hour bar hopping

Queenstown is known as the South Island’s party town, so a trip here isn’t complete without exploring the nightlife. Although drinking can be expensive in New Zealand, a lot of the town bars have amazing happy hour deals, making bar-hopping another cheap thing to do in Queenstown. In particular make sure to check out 1876 Bar, The World Bar and Yonder which all offer especially cheap drinks.

Bar hopping in Queenstown

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Eat a Fergburger or Fergbaker pie

Renowned for serving up the best burger in New Zealand, a visit to the famous Fergburger restaurant is another cheap thing to do in Queenstown. Don’t want to spend your time queuing? Drop into the equally good but less busy Fergbaker next door for one of their delicious Kiwi special pies.

Ben Lomond Track

Starting at the top of the Tiki Trail, the Ben Lomond Track is another one of the top free things to do in Queenstown. This 11km return track is a full day walk, taking 6 – 8 hours to hike to the summit and back. As you ascend you’ll experience spectacular 360 views of the surrounding mountain ranges as well as Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.

Ben Lomond Track, Queenstown

The Queenstown Trail

If you’re looking for even more active free things to do in Queenstown, then cycling part of the Queenstown Trail is the perfect activity. The trail in total covers 120km of beautiful terrain and connects Queenstown with Arrow Town and the Gibson Valley wine region. The trail is split into different sections so you can choose from a range of full-day and half-day rides.

Queenstown Trail, Queenstown

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Chill out at Queenstown Beach

Hanging out at the picturesque Queenstown Beach is the perfect free activity for the warmer months. Here you can take a dip in the lake. Go for a stroll. Or just sit and enjoy the views of the surrounding mountains from the shoreline.

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