Help Me with 7 Day Itinerary - Queenstown & Surrounds

Hello cousins,

I'm from Oz heading further down under whether you like me to or not.

I'm going to Wanaka for a wedding in September and looking for some advice on what to do and see afterwards.

22 Sept - 01 Oct

22-25 Sept Wedding in Wanaka.

& then blank. I will have a hire car.

Few things I want to see

Doubtful Sound / Milford Sound which one? Overnight or day trip - any bargain prices?
Doubtful Sound overnight sounds choice…

Queenstown - want to get a feel for the place. what is there to do other than extreme sports?

Other towns I should stop over / see or stay?

Oh what's the best telco provider? I play Pokemon and want to have as much reception in the middle of nowhere etc.



  • +2 votes

    A jetboat trip is worth it, I went with Thunderjet in Dec, was good, Shotover better but much shorter.
    A trip on the Earnslaw is nice.
    A Doubtful Sound trip is a long day, I liked Milford Sound better, the road out there is interesting too. But an overnight DS trip would be a special experience. Staying in Te Anau makes for a shorter trip to MS.

    Cromwell is nice if you go the long way from Wanaka to Queenstown, grab some cheese rolls from a lake front cafe. Head to a nice winery like Mt Difficulty in Bannockburn, check out Highlands motorsport park if you like fast cars, the go karts are fun.

    Check out for some great deals on everything I mentioned.


      Cromwell is exactly the info i'm after. I assume it's more of a 2 hour stopover rather than anything else.
      At this stage thinking of an over night DS trip but its prety exy i September.

      Never heard of Earnslaw so I'll have a bit more of a research on it.

      • +1 vote

        Yeah Cromwell is a good stopover (we've enjoyed staying there too though), and I think it's worth the little bit longer it takes vs the more direct Crown Range road. There are nice wineries in Gibbston Valley between Cromwell and Queenstown, and Arrowtown is worth the wee detour too. You could also drive up the past the hairpins on the Crown Range road (turn off just before Arrowtown turnoff) for great views.

  • +1 vote

    Milford sound is a long drive. Be as close as possible before the drive there. The rest of your spare time should be set up nice and close to ‘Fergburger’. Trust me. It’s Worth it

    • +1 vote

      I'm actually thinking of taking the coach trip from Queenstown to MS or DS.
      I've heard it is best to get someone else to do the driving as the scenes are best from the passenger seat..?

      I'll give Ferburger a go. I've heard good things about it. I'm hoping it's better than 'MOS Burger' in Japan I didn't like.

      • +2 votes

        I've had MOS Burger in GC, it was average, Fergburger is waaaaay better, ring up to order so you don't stand around waiting like hundreds of others. Devil Burger is also good, if you need to eat a burger more than once (why wouldn't you?).

        The DS cruise is a long day just from Manapouri, add almost 3 hours bus from Queenstown each way, I think that would be horrible.
        Queenstown to MS is 5 hours each way, the bus stops for photos etc, but it's double the time from Te Anau. Accom in Te Anau will should be cheaper than Queenstown too, but you'd obviously be paying petrol to get down there (2hs, 172km).

      • +1 vote

        Yup. Best scenes are from passenger side. I also did a Segway tour in Queenstown was quite fun. The longer tour would have been best though

  • +1 vote

    The Onsen spa is a great experience. We took a boat around the lake as well, which was more interesting that I thought it would be

  • +1 vote

    Try hiring a kayak and go around lake wanaka. Kayak hire always on sale in

    Went to South Island last year and its just an amazing part of NZ.
    Must see spots,worth the travel,, google it for more details:

    -Lake Tekapo
    -Hooker Valley Trail
    -into Hiking? Isthmus Peak
    -Sky Diving in wanaka-deals on bookme.
    -Blue lake


      hooker valley trail sounds interesting… something i'll google at home though and not at work haha. Don't know what will come up.


    In Queenstown you've got Fergburger to try as everyone else mentioned. There's the 'Skyline Queenstown' gondola you can go up to catch the sunset and luge down. If you're a bit of a sugar-freak, you can try the milkshakes at Cookie Time, donuts at 'Balls and Bangles', or chocolates at Patagonia Chocolates. If you like small and quirky things, the KFC in Queenstown has the 'no right turns except for KFC' sign.
    Nearby Queenstown is Arrowtown if you have time. Most people go around Buckingham Street and the Arrow River.

    I'd also recommend the Hooker Valley Trail at Mount Cook. Just make sure you park at the White Horse Hill Campsite, your legs will thank you for it. Along the way to Mount Cook from Queenstown is a small town called Twizel. I'd highly recommend stopping by at 'High Country Salmon' for their salmon sashimi, and you can hand-feed salmon for free.

    Going to Tekapo, you've got the Church of the Good Shepherd to look at. At night you could go to the Mt John Observatory to stargaze. I haven't been to the observatory myself, but I believe there's now an entrance fee.

    If you want to travel south of Queenstown, the road along lake Wakatipu has some nice scenic stop-offs on the side of the road, namely around the 'Devils Staircase'. Going further south, you can go to Bluff and have a look at Stirling Point and catch the sunset at the Bluff Hill Lookout. Outside Bluff (to the east) there's the Cliffs at Fortrose and Waipapa Point Lighthouse. If you go there, try do it during the day cause it'll be difficult to navigate in the dark (especially Fortrose Cliffs).

    A good rule of thumb for finding things to see, is to go on google maps on the computer, zoom in to particular areas and drag and hover the little yellow guy around the map. It'll show all the photospheres other people have taken, and if there's four or more in one location, it most likely is a good scenic spot. It also helps you find cool spots which you won't find by searching 'Things to see in ____' on Google.

    For telco providers, I use Skinny and it did the job for me. Vodafone is also good. There are spots where there will be no signal when you really are driving out in the middle of nowhere. Here's a link to the coverage you'll get with Skinny:

    Oh, and on the way to Twizel/Tekapo from Wanaka or Queenstown you'll most likely see a sign at some point for 'Clay Cliffs'. I wouldn't recommend going there, found it to be not worth the time and money (personally).


      Thank you for the tips.
      I definitely need to do some further research on Tekapo and whether or not I will be worth my time.
      Might have been more worthwhile to fly in fly out Queenstown / Christchurch.
      Maybe next time!

  • +1 vote

    So much to do!
    Probably not enough time, but Stewart Island is special.

    Spark has the best coverage in the country. Skinny are their el cheapo option. Vodafone are patchy in the wild, and 2degrees probably similar. They all have network coverage maps online.


      Thank you for the telco info - I've got to catch 'em all…
      I bought a 2 degrees sim on special.. however I'll look to get a Spark one for my partner and just leach off her.

  • +1 vote

    What you have got is a decent amount of time to explore Queenstown and surroundings.
    But I won't recommend going beyond 5 hour drive from Queenstown - you will loose a day or two in bed.

    We did the Doubtful sound overnight cruise - amazing experience - great crew and great food as well (I know it's expensive but in the end you feel it's worth it - couldn't find any deals for it). Going there itself is a bit of challenge - so wouldn't recommend doing it as a day trip. In the overnight trip, there is a stop in the early morning in the middle of the sounds where they switch off the engine to experience the sound (with waterfalls around you and the birds singing in the national park) - simply amazing. Also you have Kayak / banana boat activity and some other activities while you stay in the Ship.

    To reach the DS - you need to go to reach Manapouri (Real Journey shuttle from Te Anau / Queenstown) -> From there Real Journey will take you in boat to Cross the Lake Manpouri -> Real Journey Bus to Doubtful sound -> Then you board the ship (same process in reverse while coming back)

    We stayed in Te Anau for a night (and parked our car there to board Real Journey shuttle ) after the overnight cruise. It is a good scenic town which is a good launchpad for both DS and MS.

    • While in QT don't miss Fergburger (I never get bored of this place), Caribe Latin Kitchen (the best Mexican in NZ so far and cheap), Also try breakfast in Patagonia (Level 1 has great views of the QT lake), Also Red Rock bar has a $10 Big breakfast - which is surprisingly very good. After you saved some $$ in the BF , splurge it in Hilton Wakatipu Grill - food is ok but the location is fantastic
    • The evening view from Skyline QT is amazing - try it
    • I always go for a drive to Glenorchy (1 hour from QT- some narrow roads - drive carefully) - Breathtaking views - highly recommend it
    • Don't miss Mt Cook museum (in iSite) and Hooker valley track - amazing experience
    • Also if you are into Star Gazing - Tekapo is the best place to do it - go to the church around 10 PM and take a tripod and SLR (and a bottle of whiskey - it's gonna be very very cold)
    • While you are in Wanaka if you go further north, you will reach Lake Hawea - some great lookouts over there as well
    • Did I say QT is the party capital of NZ - spend a weekend night in a pub at QT (if you are into it) - Some bars have great local brews and craft beers
    • Cromwell is famous for cherries but I don't think Sept is a season to try. Try visiting Cromwell historic village if you like to know about Gold rush days. Also some great wineries around it.
    • Visit Arrowtown - its streets are kinda soothing to eyes. Lots of shops there - but mostly tourist baits :D

      Thank you for your recommendations.
      Still deciding if we want to stay in Te Anau or get an all-inclusive from QT to DS/MS.
      I guess it depends how much driving we want to do.
      I'll check out some of the bars not so much the pubs.
      I'm hoping to track down some Tuatara crafts!

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