Save Money In Queenstown With These Holiday Tips

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019

Read about 'Save Money In Queenstown With These Holiday Tips' on USAVE, the place for all things car rental.

Queenstown New Zealand is perhaps best known for its impressive range of extreme outdoor adventure activities. Everywhere you look there are things to jump off, swing on and ride at high speeds. These adrenaline pumping adventures along with its stunning alpine location and world class ski and snowboarding resorts has led to Queenstown becoming the top holiday destination for both New Zealand locals and visitors from around the world.

However Queenstown is known to be a bit pricey for budget conscious travellers – don’t worry we have got you covered – read on for our insider knowledge on how to save money on accommodation, travel and activities in Queenstown.

Queenstown Night Photo

Queenstown NZ – What You Need To Know

Before you hit the slopes or jump off a bridge (with a bungy cord of course!) here are a few quick facts about Queenstown that everyone should know to help plan a holiday that wont break the bank but is still full of fun and excitement.

Is Queenstown Safe?

Yes, Queenstown is a relatively safe town, however as with anywhere in New Zealand all travellers should always be mindful of their own personal safety. Some basic safety tips to remember are to lock your doors at night, always lock your vehicle when leaving it unattended, and never leave any valuables in a vehicle.

The most common complaint from tourists in Queenstown is around vehicles being broken in to and intoxicated disorderly behaviour around bars and clubs at night. It is not uncommon for party goers in the city centre to be up and about until the wee small hours of the morning.

How Big Is Queenstown NZ?

The Queenstown-Lakes District covers approximately 8700 square kilometres, the central township itself is nestled on the edge of Lake Wakatipu and is easily contained within roughly one square kilometre. The urban population of Queenstown sits at around 15,850, with this number swelling to over 40,000+ in peak periods.

Central Queenstown is the hub of the town and is home to businesses, apartments and homes, nearby suburbs such as Fernhill, Sunshine Bay, Queenstown Hill, Jacks Point, Goldfield Heights, Marina Heights, Kelvin Heights, Arthurs Point and Frankton make up the rest of the towns landscape.

Stone Bridge Queenstown Botanic Gardens

Queenstown Maps

Looking for a good map of Queenstown and the surrounding area? Need a map of the bike trails or walks in Queenstown? Here are a few good links to get you started.

  • Queenstown District Council Maps. These include alcohol ban areas, responsible camping zones and more.
  • Queenstown NZ. For all your map needs including a Wine Trail Map, Biking Map, Walking Map and extensive Activities Map.
  • Queenstown Airport. For maps relating to the Queenstown Airport, including a handy Parking Map and Terminal Guide.
  • AA Maps. For those who prefer a paper copy take a look on the AA website.

Queenstown New Zealand Weather

Yes, it is cold in Queenstown during the winter months. Temperatures usually sit around 5-10°C during the day, nights are colder and average between 5°C and -5°C. Summer temperatures range from a comfortable 20 to 30 degrees.

While snow is in the surrounding mountain ranges is a common sight, snow on the ground in the Queenstown township is a more rare occurrence. For more information on the current weather conditions in Queenstown see here.

Queenstown Snow Season 

The Queenstown Ski Season runs from early to mid-June through to early October depending on the amount of snow fall. For an approximate idea of the ski field opening dates for 2020 see below.

  • Cardrona – 15th June – October 11th
  • Coronet Peak – 15th June – October 5th
  • The Remarkables – 8th June – October 5th
  • Treble Cone – 27th June – September 21st

What Months Does It Snow In Queenstown?

Snow can be expected to fall anytime between April and October in the Queenstown area. However the periods between snowfall in the spring (September and October) can be longer, but larger dumps are more likely. Winter is considered peak season in Queenstown, expect prices for accommodation, activities and eating out to be significantly higher.

Snow Reports And Forecasts Links

Here are the best links for information on snow, road closures and weather conditions in Queenstown.

  • For all the up to date details on current weather conditions at the major ski resorts in Queenstown.
  • SnowNZ. For snow reports, weather forecasts and road conditions at the Queenstown and Wanaka ski fields.
  • Cardrona Alpine Resort. Ski field located half way between Queenstown and Wanaka.
  • The Remarkables Ski Area. Located just to the south of Queenstown.
  • Treble Cone. Officially the largest ski field in the Queentown area, Treble Cone is located northwest of Wanaka.
  • Metservice Queenstown. Latest weather reports for Queenstown and the rest of New Zealand.

How To Get To Queenstown

For most travellers there are three options when it comes to making your way to Queenstown – by car, by bus or by aeroplane. Each method has its own pros and cons – take a look below to help decide which option is best for you.

Queenstown By Road

The drive to Queenstown takes around 6 hours by car from Christchurch and 3.5 hours from Dunedin. From either origin the drive is easily undertaken in a day (with a few rest stops along the way).

Some say the drive is all part of the fun with the inland Christchurch route passing through some amazing countryside including the Canterbury Plains, and local towns such as Ashburton, Geraldine, Twizel, Omarama, Cromwell and Arrowtown. The Dunedin route takes drivers through some Central Otago hotspots such as Roxburgh, Alexandra, Cromwell and on to Arrowtown.

Hiring a car is widely considered the best way to travel in New Zealand. Longer hire periods are often offered at lower daily rates, and there are some great relocation deals to look out for. Having your own car means you can get to all of those secluded places and back roads that you would otherwise miss when sticking to the main highways.

Taking the bus is another economical option for travellers on a tight budget, however there is one large drawback to taking the bus – the trip will take a whopping 8 hours from departure to arrival. If you are looking to save on time, flying into Queenstown is your best option.

Flights To Queenstown

While not your cheapest travel option in New Zealand, if you are prepared to spend a little bit of time researching flights it is possible to get some really good deals into Queenstown at times. Here are the answers to some common questions about flights to Queenstown.

How Much Do Flights To Queenstown Cost?

  • Christchurch To Queenstown. You can fly to Queenstown from Christchurch on New Zealand’s domestic airlines for around $90 when booking about 2-3 weeks in advance, if you are a little flexible with your dates it pays to keep an eye on local discounted flight sales website Grabaseat which can be as low as $40 at random times throughout the year.
  • Auckland To Queenstown. Flying to Queenstown from Auckland will cost around $110, with Grabaseat deals also available for around $70 at times.
  • Wellington To Queenstown. Flights from Wellington to Queenstown are going to set you back around $100, but there are some really great Grabaseat deals for as low as $50.

How To Get From The Airport To The City Centre?

The airport at Queenstown is located in a suburb called Frankton about 8 km from the city centre. You can get from the airport to the city centre by bus ($10 or $2 with a “GoCard” see below), airport shuttle ($20), taxi ($20 to $30), or by renting a car.

If you plan to travel by bus while in Queenstown it is worth getting a “GoCard” before leaving the Airport as this will greatly reduce fares, you can travel anywhere for just $2. If heading up the slopes or out of the township hiring a car is the best option to allow you to travel where you please.

Lake Wakatipu Queenstown

When Is The Best Time To Fly To Queenstown?

The easy answer to this question is anytime! But if you are planning a holiday in Queenstown some things you might want to consider are weather conditions (snowfall), busy times and the price of flights.

Peak ski season in Queenstown is from June through to August. These are the coldest months, with the highest snowfall. During these months you are likely to encounter peak rates not only for skiing but for pretty much everything you do there including accommodation and activities.

If you aren’t going to Queenstown for the skiing or wintery party atmosphere then visiting in the summer months will save you money and help avoid some of the crowds.

How Long Is The Flight To Queenstown?

This one will depend on where you are flying from of course but here is a rough guide of flight times to Queenstown from NZ’s largest cities and Australian cities that fly direct to Queenstown.

  • Auckland to Queenstown – 1 hour 55 minutes
  • Wellington to Queenstown – 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Christchurch to Queenstown – 1 hour
  • Melbourne to Queenstown – 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Sydney to Queenstown – 3 hours 5 minutes
  • Brisbane to Queenstown – 3 hours 35 minutes

Which Airlines Operate In Queenstown?

New Zealand’s main domestic carrier Air New Zealand operates out of Queenstown along with the Australian owned airline Jetstar. International flights are also available from airlines AirNZ, Quantas and Virgin Australia.

When Is The Best Time To Book Flights To Queenstown?

It is always best to book in advance if you can as flights are significantly cheaper at from a minimum of 2 weeks out, it is a good idea to look for GrabaSeat deals if you are okay with arranging your holiday around these very cheap flight deals that are offered at random times during the year.

Where To Stay In Queenstown – The Best Accommodation Options

Queenstown has a huge range of different styles of accommodation ranging from secluded resorts and lodges to the usual hotels and motels and the on to the more budget conscious ‘Backpackers’ style accommodation.

How Much Does Accommodation Cost In Queenstown?

The cost of accommodation in Queenstown greatly depends on the timing of your visit – peak rates can add upwards of $50 or more to nightly rates. See below for our guide to accommodation costs in Queenstown (these figures are provided as a guide only see individual providers for more up to date pricing).

  • Hotels. The cost of a hotel in Queenstown ranges between $150 and $170 for standard rooms, and anywhere upwards of $500 per night for more luxury style apartments or rooms in boutique style hotels with Lake views.
  • Premium Hotel Accommodation. Queenstown is home to some stunning exclusive premium accommodation options that cost over $1000 per night.
  • Motels. The cost of a motel In Queenstown ranges from $120 to $150. The main difference between Motels and Hotels in New Zealand is that a motel will usually have more substantial kitchen facilities.  
  • Budget Accommodation. Cheap or budget accommodation in Queenstown can be found at ‘Backpackers’ or holiday park/camping grounds. Backpackers are more suited to individuals or couples and are priced around $50 per night, while camping grounds offer cabins for around $75-$100 per night.
  • Family Accommodation. Family friendly accommodation options in Queenstown include hotels, motels, private holiday houses and holiday parks or camping grounds. The cost of these will increase depending on how many adults and children are included.

Queenstown Accommodation Deals

Looking for where to find the best deals on accommodation in Queenstown, here are a few links to get you started.

Shotover River Quenstown

Where To Eat In Queenstown– The Best Restaurants

Queenstown is blessed with a wide array of restaurants and eateries to suit all tastes and budgets. Dine on exquisite local produce, indulge in one of the famous Fergburgers or just enjoy a family meal by the Lakeside – whatever your desire Queenstown has it in abundance.

Top 15 Restaurants In Queenstown

Ok here we go here is our hard and fast guide to the best 15 places to eat in Queenstown.

  1. Fergburger. For the best burgers of course!
  2. The Fat Lamb. For the best lamb.
  3. Tatsumi Modern Japanese Dining. For exquisite Japanese style dining at its best.
  4. No5 Church Lane. For the best cocktails and sharing plates.
  5. Caribe Latin Kitchen. For delicious Mexican style food at family friendly prices.
  6. Bespoke Kitchen. For healthy all day breakfasts and cabinet food.
  7. The Cow Restaurant. For the best pasta and pizza.
  8. Erik’s Fish And Chips. For the best Gluten Free takeaways (everything is available gluten free)>
  9. FINZ Seafood & Grill. For the best views and awesome seafood.
  10. The Grille by Eichardt’s. For Queenstown’s premier dining destination.
  11. Madam Woo. For the best Western-Asian style food and great vegan options.
  12. Jervois Steak House. For the best steak of course!
  13. Joes Garage. For the best family friendly meals and service.
  14. Vudu Cafe & Larder. For the best café style food.
  15. Yonder. For the best coffee.

How To Save Money At Restaurants In Queenstown

Want to save a few dollars on eating out in Queenstown? Ever heard of ‘First Table’? This is a concept that allows dinners to eat for sometimes large discounts based on selecting an early dining time.

For most restaurants this means eating between 4.30-6.30pm. You need to book in advance using the First Table website and tables are only for 2 to 4 dinners – no more no less, other conditions may apply.

The Best 6 Things To Do In Queenstown

Right so you have sorted your accommodation; know where to eat and how to get to Queenstown now it’s time to play! Don’t worry you won’t have any trouble filling your days and nights while in holidaying in Queenstown. There is plenty to do that will suit all ages, abilities and budgets!

1. Walking/Hiking

One of the best free things to do in Queenstown is to explore on foot the many walking and hiking tracks dotted around the area. For more information on where to go walking in Queenstown take a look here.

The Queenstown Hill Time Walk is one of our favourites with a time frame of around 2 to 3 hours it offers some spectacular views along the way and is not far from the central township (entrance off Belfast Road)

2. Scenic Flights

Enjoying a scenic flight really is the best way to see Queenstown at its best. Get the best views of the majestic mountain ranges and shining waters of Lake Wakatipu from above with these 4 scenic flight operators in Queenstown.

3. Skyline Gondola And Luge

The best family orientated activity, heading up the Queenstown Gondola for the day is perfect for families with kids of all ages. The short Gondola ride delivers you easily and effortlessly to the top of Bob’s Peak for breath-taking views and the peace and quiet of being 450 metres above the township and Lake Wakatipu.

From the top of the Gondola you can go Ziplining, try out the Luge, go stargazing, mountain biking or take a long walk along the Bob’s Peak mountain range.  The Gondola ride costs $39 per adult and $24 per child, there are package deals available for the luge, restaurant, stargazing and mountain biking.

4. Jet Boating

Aside from bungy jumping, jet boating in the narrow rugged rivers near Queenstown is the most iconic adventure activity in Queenstown. Tourists from far and wide come to experience the thrill of whizzing down the river through the narrow canyon walls at high speeds.

There are a couple of options available for jet boating in Queenstown, the Shotover Jet which will cost around $159 per adult and $89 per child. KJet provide a 60 minute jet boat ride on the Kawarau and Shotover rivers for $139 per adult and $69 per child. Bookings are essential.

5. Bungy Jumping

You simply can’t go to Queenstown and not give bungy jumping a try! This iconic activity is ideal for the active thrill seeker and is pretty good just to watch as well! There are a few options here designed to suit with the 43 metre Kawarau Bridge Bungy, the 134 metre Nevis Bungy and the 47 metre Queenstown Ledge Bungy.

All of these bungy jumps offer vastly different experiences and are priced from $205 to $275. Booking in advance is essential and transport is provided to the Nevis Bungy which requires 4WD access. Note; there is a minimum age requirement of 13 years.

6. Lake Wakatipu Cruise

Operating year round, the TSS Earnslaw Steamship cruises cross Lake Wakatipu allowing you to see Queenstown and its surrounds from a totally different perspective. For around an hour and 30 minutes you can enjoy the scenic cruise on board the historic 106 year old boat complete with mini-museum, sing-a-long by piano and the opportunity to explore the vintage steamship at your leisure.

Want to make a day of it? Combine the cruise with a visit to the Walter Peak High Country Farm where you can take part in a guided farm tour and the chance to go horse riding or farm bike riding. The TSS Earnslaw Lake Wakatipu cruise costs around $70 per person,  bookings are essential.

Queenstown Activities Deals – How To Find Them

While many of the activity operators in Queenstown will offer their own special deals or reduced combo prices there are some websites specifically designed for getting the best deals on Queenstown activities and tours.

Make the most of your trip to Queenstown with affordable car hire from USAVE Car Rentals, check out our special rental car deals for Queenstown here or give us a call today!



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