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30+ free and cheap things to do in Queenstown

You’ll never hear the phrase “Wow! Queenstown is just SO CHEAP!” ever. In fact, it’s one of the more expensive places I’ve traveled. It’s a hot tourist destination and mecca for adventure junkies willing to pay a pretty penny to get their adrenaline fix. But is it possible to visit Queenstown on a budget?

After living and working in the adrenaline capital of the world for 7 months, I’ve found some fun things to do in Queenstown that are cheap or free. On my 29th birthday, I shared the 29 best things to do in Dallas… and so, with my 30th just around the corner, I give you 30+ things to do under $30 in Queenstown, New Zealand! Whether you’re on a working holiday in New Zealand or just trying to make the most of your vacation, you’ll find some great ways to have fun on a budget in Queenstown!  

30+ free and cheap things to do in Queenstown


1. Join a free walking tour

Join the Free Walking Tour Queenstown for the inside scoop on this beautiful place from a Queenstown-native. Learn the story of Lake Wakatipu and find out who’s depicted in the statue with the sheep. Plus… enjoy a free cookie and a beer tasting along the way! The education and entertainment is worth far more than the free price tag… so tip your guide accordingly!
Mark from Queenstown Walking Tours

2. Take a free fitness class

Every Sunday from 8:30-9:30am, Lululemon offers a free, in-store workout class. Sunday Sweat with Lululemon classes vary by the month, so check their calendar in the shop.

3. See a movie at a pop-up theatre

If the movie theater is too mainstream for you, check out the Guerilla Drive-In and watch a movie in the most unlikely of places. Technically, this is by donation, so not quite free. Join the revolution by signing up here to find out when and where these pop-up movie nights are happening around Queenstown.

Queenstown Guerilla Drive in thesweetwanderlust.com4. Go for a hike!

There are plenty of walks around Queenstown, but the most popular are Queenstown Hill, the Tiki Trail and Ben Lomond. When you get to the top of Queenstown Hill, be sure to make a wish while sitting in the basket of dreams!

Queenstown Hill Basket of Dreams 5. Feed the birds and watch the sunset from the beach.

Queenstown seagulls

6. Watch a street performance

You never know what you might see on the boardwalk. Catch a street performance (also a donation-based activity) to see knives being juggled, tightropes being walked or a 100-year-old piano being played with 100% player-composed pieces.

7. Experience the awe of witnessing the Aurora Australis

Take a drive to Moke Lake or Lake Hayes for a chance to see the Aurora Australis. This website is run by volunteers who monitor solar activity– sign up for alerts to find out the best time to see the Southern Lights.

8. Stroll through the Queenstown Botanical Gardens.

The first trees in the garden were planted in 1866, and today, this gorgeous park is home to many year-round activities and yearly festivals, like LUMA, held in the gardens over the Queen’s birthday weekend.

LUMA Queenstown

9. Get artsy

Looking for a little culture? Check out one of Queenstown’s art galleries. The Ivy Box, Artbay Gallery, Central Art Gallery, Milford Gallery and Queenstown Art Centre are a few places to start.

Free things to do in Queenstown: visit the art galleries

10. Visit a free festival in Queenstown

From the Rural Games, where you can try your hand at speed milking and speed gold panning, to the Running of the Wools and LUMA to Winter Fest, Queenstown is home to loads of unique free festivals.

Running of the Wools Rural Games Queenstown

$10 and Under

11. Play a game of frisbee golf

Rent a frisbee from Small Planet for $5 and head over to the Botanical Gardens to play an 18-hole game of disc golf. Small Planet is locally owned and their team is passionate about disc golf, so you’re sure to find high quality discs here! Note: Small Planet requires a $20 deposit, but you’ll get a $15 refund with the return of the disc, so don’t lose it in the lake!

Small Planet Queenstown frisbee rental
12. Go bowling

Try your hand at lawn bowls in the Queenstown Botanical Gardens. An all-day shoe and bowl rental is only $10.

Lawn bowling in Queenstown

13. Sip some of New Zealand’s best wine

Wine tasting at The Winery can be as cheap as $2… but it’s easy to rack up a substantial bill if you’re not careful. The Winery is a great way to try fancy wines for just a few dollars. And if whiskey’s more your style… they’ve got you covered there, too!
Wine tasting The Winery Queenstown

14. Experience the foodie side of Queenstown

Check out the cheap eats Queenstown has to offer with these 10 cafes and restaurants that offer meals for under $10.

Queenstown 10 meals under $10

15. Save room for dessert

Once dinner’s done, it’s time for dessert. Here’s where you can find the best desserts in Queenstown.

Top 10 - the best dessert in Queenstown

$20 and Under

16. Train for the circus

Visit Gravity for an aerial silks class. I can’t promise you’ll be a pro in only one session… but the soreness lasts long after the class is over!

Gravity aerial silks Queenstown

17. Go ice skating

Practice your Tara Lipinski moves (or just try not to fall down) at the Queenstown Ice Arena for just $19. For an even better deal, hit the ice disco Fridays from 6-9:30 for just $15 including skate rentals.

Ice skating at Queenstown Ice Arena

18. Take a boat ride on Lake Wakatipu

Get out on Lake Wakatipu with a Water Taxi ride from the Steamer Wharf to the Hilton. It’s about 30 minutes roundtrip for only $20. Hang out at the Hilton for pizza and a beer at Stacks Pub or watch the paddle boarders from the dock while you’re on the other side.

Queenstown Water Taxi

19. Score a hole-in-one

Practice your putt by playing mini golf at CaddyShack City for $19.50. It’s an 18-hole course that’s one of the most fun I’ve ever played on– with a ski lift, gondola and a candy factory, complete with a free sample of the CaddyShack candy at the end!

Budget Queenstown activities: play mini-golf at CaddyShack

20. Go for a bike ride… on water

Can’t decide between a biking adventure and spending time on the lake? Hire an Aqua Bike from WaterSports Queenstown for a unique experience on the water. A 20 minute pedal is $15.

waterbike Queenstown

21. Take a spin in a paddle boat

Grab a couple friends and take a pedal boat out on the lake. A 20-minute rental is $20 from WaterSports Queenstown.

Paddle Boat Queenstown

22. Catch the latest film at Reading Cinema

Sometimes, a night at the movies is just what you need… Watch a film at Reading Cinema for $16 if you’re craving a laid back evening with friends.

$30 and Under

23. Kayak on Lake Wakatipu

For $25, spend 45 minutes kayaking on Lake Wakatipu with a rental from WaterSports Queenstown.

kayak Lake Wakatipu with WaterSports Queenstown

Photo Credit: WaterSports Queenstown

24. Rent a Stand Up Paddle Board

Enjoy the scenery (and an awesome core workout) with a Stand Up Paddle board rental. A 45-minute rental is $25 from WaterSports Queenstown.

Stand up paddle board on Lake Wakatipu with WaterSports Queenstown

Photo credit: WaterSports Queenstown

25. Go for a 12D ride

Experience 400 movements per second as you ride a roller coaster through the canyons of the American West or jet powered flying cars through the desert at 12D Motion Theatre. This 12D movie ride simulator is $29 for 2 rides.

26. Take a 90-minute cruise on Lake Wakatipu

Hop on the Spirit of Queenstown for a 90-minute cruise on Lake Wakatipu! Enjoy a close-up encounter with The Remarkables and catch a glimpse of Glenorchy (which is an awesome day trip from Queenstown if you have a car!)!

27. Get lost

Odyssey Sensory Maze is a-maze-ing (pun definitely intended!). It’s a delight for all the senses as you make your way through room after room of surprises. At $29.50, you’ll want to take your time to fully experience the sights, smells, sounds and sensations of each room. You’ll be asked to take off your shoes, so be sure to wear socks!

Odyssey Sensory Maze Queenstown

Photo Credit: Odyssey Sensory Maze

Mirror room at Odyssey Sensory Maze

Photo Credit: Odyssey Sensory Maze

28. Enjoy a cold beverage at an ice bar

Looking for a ‘cool’ way to start a night on the town? Don your ice bar gear (coats and boots provided), and enter the icy world of Minus 5 for a drink. The whole experience is $30 and includes an arctic-themed cocktail.

Minus 5 ice bar Queenstown

29. Enjoy a lakeside snack

After your Minus 5 experience, thaw out at Little Blackwood with one of their famous cheese boards. Choose a meat and a cheese for $21, and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, live music and great views. Little Blackwood Queenstown cheese board

30. Go luging

On a nice day, hike the Tiki Trail from the base of the Skyline Gondola to the top and enjoy three luge rides for $30. Have a Princess Peach (or Mario) moment as you race your friends and catch some air on these gravity-powered go karts.

Traveling on a budget in Queenstown? Here's how you can still ride the Luge

31. Hiking not really your style?

Take the easy way up with a gondola ride! Enjoy stunning views from inside the cable car as you cruise past the suckers who decided to walk up the hill.

Have you visited Queenstown on a budget? What are your favorite things to do under $30 in Queenstown?

Pin this post so you’ll remember all the awesome free and cheap things to do in Queenstown!

30 Activities under $30 in Queenstown New Zealand

30 activities in Queenstown under $30

Disclaimer: Some of the activities mentioned in this post were received free of charge. All opinions are my own, though, and I wouldn’t recommend anything to you that’s not awesome!

Meera Shankar

Sunday 2nd of February 2020

What a great mix of things to do in Queenstown at different budgets! I have been wanting to visit New Zealand for a long time now and I can't wait. The Botanical Gardens and the Paddle Board activity look very exciting! :)


Wednesday 15th of May 2019

Great article! Queenstown is nice! Make sure you also check out Glenorchy and nearby Kinloch to go on some hikes. Half a tank of petrol should get you there and back, so probably less than $30 :-)


Wednesday 15th of May 2019

Great advice, Philipp! Glenorchy and Kinloch are both beautiful places to explore!


Wednesday 17th of August 2016

Great list! I wish I'd had this when I visited last year! :-)


Friday 19th of August 2016

Thanks, Nikki!


Saturday 13th of August 2016

Genuinely never thought Queenstown could be done on anything resembling a budget but I stand corrected. Some of these ideas are really novel too. The underwater observatory sounds super fun


Saturday 13th of August 2016

:) It's tough, but can be done for sure!!


Saturday 13th of August 2016

Love all the active ideas. Some of them are relatively long, so your money stretches further!


Saturday 13th of August 2016

Thanks so much, Becky!