Queenstown #13 in Best Places to Visit in December of 2023

Why Go To Queenstown

A trip to Queenstown means a trip filled with adventure. One day, you’re bungee jumping: Your feet leave the ledge, and gravity drags your body downward. Then you’re whitewater rafting: You’re plummeting over waterfalls, the river water slapping your skin. And the next day, you’re hiking the greenest hills you’ve ever seen. Later in the week, your stomach drops because you’ve just leaped out of an airplane into the blue sky: skydiving. And before you head home, you’re grinding down a snowy mountain, a board strapped to your feet: snowboarding. What an adrenaline rush!

If these visions seem more like a dream come true – and less like a horrifying nightmare – your fantasy destination is the easygoing daredevil, Queenstown. And at the end of a rip-roaring day, you can toast to yourself with some of the best pinot noir around. So, visit for adventure, friendliness, wine, and ravishing vistas. And do bring your bucket list: You’ll be able to check a few things off.

Best Months to Visit

The best time to visit Queenstown is the summer (December through February), when the long, sunny days make outdoor excursions enjoyable. Because of the sheer number of outdoorsy activities offered in the summertime, you can expect some moderate crowds and busy hotels. Spring (September to November) and fall (March to May) yield unpredictable weather conditions, while winter (June through August) is prime for powder hounds.

Culture & Customs

In New Zealand, “kiwi” doesn’t just refer to a fruit. It refers to a native New Zealander and the national bird. Keep your eyes peeled for these endangered and flightless creatures. You can also find them at Kiwi Birdlife Park.

English is the primary language here, although getting used to the accent may take some time. Kiwis are known for their friendliness and won’t take offense should you need them to repeat themselves.

The official currency here is the New Zealand dollar (NZD), which is roughly equivalent to $0.67. You should also note that tipping isn’t customary here, although it is appropriate to leave 10 to 15 percent if the service was extraordinary.

Like Brits and Aussies, Kiwis drive on the left side of the road. Those of you who are used to city driving should take extra care when driving on New Zealand’s winding mountain roads. Narrow passageways and fickle weather conditions can throw even the most seasoned driver off course.

Queenstown is a pretty safe place; car break-ins are the most common offense against tourists, so be sure to leave valuables at home or in your hotel room.

What to Eat

Like other Kiwi cities, Queenstown specializes in fresh, local cuisine. However, unlike Auckland and Wellington, Queenstown’s dining scene mainly consists of casual fare. No matter where you are in New Zealand, trying out the region’s lamb is a must. For some of Queenstown’s best lamb, grab some takeout (or takeaway as it’s known locally) from Pedro’s House of Lamb. Only one item is offered at Pedro’s: a baked rosemary and garlic lamb shoulder with scalloped potatoes. The lamb is not only delicious, but one portion can easily feed two to three adults.

Quintessential New Zealand seafood like whitebait, bluff oysters and green-lipped mussels can be found in Queenstown as well. Notable seafood eateries include Captains Restaurant, Botswana Butchery and Fishbone Bar & Grill.

And before leaving Queenstown, visitors who are 18 and older should plan on checking out the region’s top-notch wine. More than 70 wineries can be found in the area, most of which produce Central Otago’s world-famous pinot noir. Some of Queenstown’s best wineries include Amisfield, Gibbston Valley and Peregrine Wines.

Getting Around Queenstown

The best way to get around Queenstown is by car, since many of the city’s activities are spread apart. Plus, there’s limited public transportation to get you from point A to point B. That said, you can certainly walk around downtown Queenstown and get a feel for the city. If you stay in central Queenstown, you can likely get around without a rental car. To get into town from Queenstown Airport (ZQN), a distance of less than 5 miles, you can take a taxi, the No. 11 bus or your rental car.

On Foot
If you plan on keeping a close radius to your accommodations in central Queenstown, walking is a good way to get around. Many of Queenstown’s adventure activities, including skydiving and bungee jumping, offer free transportation from downtown Queenstown, making it easy to enjoy several top attractions. However, if you plan on staying outside the city center, you’ll probably need to rent a car.

There are eight rental car agencies at Queenstown Airport. And if you plan on traveling to Queenstown’s outer-lying attractions like Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, a car is a necessity (though you can also hire tour buses for transportation). Since parking spots are scarce in Queenstown, we recommend taking advantage of the garage located on Man Street (near the Sofitel hotel). You’ll need either an international driving permit or an up-to-date license from your home country. Also, keep in mind that Kiwis drive on the left side of the road.

Ritchies Connectabus offers six public bus routes that connect downtown Queenstown to select hotels and neighboring towns. Buses aren’t ideal for getting to and from Queenstown’s attractions but are worth considering if you decide to travel around the immediate area. Bus fares start at NZ$4.50 ($3) for adults and NZ$3.50 (a little more than $2) for children, though a one-day unlimited bus pass is available for NZ$33 ($22). Route timetables vary, however, buses generally operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

Three main taxi companies operate in Queenstown: Queenstown Taxis, Green Cabs and Corporate Cabs. All three service Queenstown Airport and are reliable. Taxi fares start at NZ$4.75 ($3), with an additional NZ$6.44 ($4) added per mile.

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