Isobel Benesch discovers lesser-known activities in Queenstown kids will love.
Known as the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown is equally accessible for families with children of all ages looking for family-friendly adventures. Providing a beautiful backdrop and jaw-dropping scenery no matter where you are, Queenstown provides a multitude of natural playgrounds for even the tiniest of tots. We partnered with Hertz to take us to some of the lesser-known places around Queenstown, allowing us to explore insanely beautiful spots and take a few off-road adventures. Below are a few of our favourite spots in Queenstown to get away from it all.
A 20 minute drive outside of Queenstown, you will find this quaint, historic gold mining town containing the restored remnants of the original Chinese settlement. A free car park with toilets located right beside the trail makes it easy for families not wanting to do a big trek. A wide and level pathway meanders along the banks of the river with the partially restored huts nestled into the hillside. The flat trail is perfect for little legs or a pushchair and kids of all ages will enjoy exploring inside the tiny houses and playing alongside the river under the shade of the willow and sycamore trees.
Located slightly outside of Queenstown, Jack’s Point is well worth the short 15 minute drive. A sprawling new housing development built alongside a perfectly manicured golf course you’ll be surprised to find this seemingly isolated spot of untouched, natural beauty. This lakeside picnic spot is nestled directly underneath the snow-capped Remarkables and when we visited, there wasn’t another person in sight.
The pebble laden beach is perfect for toddlers and hours of rock throwing fun and the beautifully sanded driftwood washed up along the shores is ideal fort building material for the older ones. We were able to pull our Hertz people-mover right alongside the water’s edge making for easy access to nappies, snacks, and a change of clothes. This was one of the most breath-taking places we went and a picture perfect setting for a family afternoon of laid back fun.
Lower Shotover River
Driving past the Wastewater Plant under the Shotover Bridge, follow the gravel road to what feels like a local’s only secret spot. You will find yourself at the bottom of a cliff that staggeringly drops into the beautiful aquamarine water of the Shotover River.
The Shotover Jet Boat passes by this spot every so often which means your little ones will get an up close glimpse as it flies through the water. This spot is also located directly under the flight path by the airport and your little ones will be in awe as the low flying planes make their way overhead. And there’s even a small dirt bike track along the water’s edge where you might be able to watch a trick or two. This is a secret, picturesque location that makes for an exciting afternoon.
Park almost anywhere along the lake and slowly meander along the pathway that follows the water’s edge for an easy stroll. Plenty of spots to stop and enjoy the lake from dipping toes in the water to collecting rocks and treasures to bring home. There are a few places with rope swings over the water and pebble beaches that take you to the water’s edge. This walkway is great for pushchairs and balance bikes.
Kawarau Falls Scenic Reserve
Part of the Twin Rivers Trail, the Kawarau Falls Scenic Reserve is an easy adventurous walk for families. Park at the end of Robertson Street in the free car park overlooking the Kawarau River Bridge. Cross under the bridge, taking in views of the stunning Kawarau Gorge with it’s swirling water and raging rapids before making your way along the wooded trail that functions as a walking and bike track. This winding path will take you to the Kawarau Falls Scenic Reserve, a wide open grassy area complete with a tree fort, rope swing and swing set. You can set up shop here for a picnic or continue along the path for more views of the river.