Ask any Generation Z which holiday destination is on their bucket list and it’ll be Queenstown, for sure. The adventure activities are numerous, and Instagrammable opportunities are spectacular, so you’ll get enthusiastic buy-in from teens and tweens.
But it’s a win-win, because travelling with older kids means you get to enjoy a lot of the stuff that you like to as well. We know Queenstown is beautiful, but it’s also bountiful when it comes to adventure. Here are eight ideas you don’t want to miss:
1. STAY at the Crowne Plaza Hotel
The perfect hotel for kids of all ages, with its spacious rooms and a fantastic buffet breakfast to begin each day (if you have kids under 12, they’ll stay and eat free)! The Crown Plaza Hotel is right on Lake Wakatipu with postcard-perfect views; it’s located right on the edge of Steamer Wharf, which is where it’s all happening. In less than a minute, you’re in the thick of it, so it’s super-easy with teens and tweens who want to go off on a little adventure of discovery, or if you have younger kids, because it’s a hop-skip-jump into town.
Two adjoining rooms will give you a lot of space for the whole family, and there’s a gym which is great for teens who are into fitness. During the holidays, there’s a special kids’ playroom – with table tennis, games, drawing corners and toys. Make sure you join the IHG Rewards club to get special offers and a cool Welcome Pack for the kids on arrival. If you’re heading to the slopes, there’s a massive drying room for your skis and boards, and parking available for your car or SUV.
2. DRINK MOCKTAILS AND COCKTAILS in the Minus 5 Ice Bar
Teens love bragging about holidays, and the Ice Bar is a frozen wonderland (as well as another unique photo-op!) Get wrapped up snug in Antarctic-temp jackets, gloves and a beanie before enjoying ice-cold cocktails and mocktails, all at minus 5 degrees. Everything in the bar is sculpted entirely out of ice – even the glassware. We loved the effective coloured lighting and the lamb fleeces to “lounge” on.
3. SIMULATE SKYDIVING with i-fly
i-Fly is a 10 million dollar facility that simulates the exhilarating feeling of sky-diving. Led by specialist sky-diving instructors, who will guide you through the safest dive of your life. Before you know it you’ll be spinning, floating, swooping and learning how to control your body mid-air. You’ll be blown away… quite literally! For ages 5 and over.
If you want to step it up a notch, try the Alpine Mountains virtual reality; choose your location from the Swiss Alps, Dubai, Hawaii, or Southern California.
4. HIGH-SPEED ADRENALIN with a Hydro Attack Shark Ride ( image at top)
When you’re enjoying your view of the lake at the Crowne Plaza or walking along Steamer Wharf, you can’t help but notice the Hydro Attack “Sharks” diving, rolling and leaping out of the water. This is a jet-ski meets submarine ride – and is 100 percent as much fun as it looks! Experience it in any season (in fact, the cooler weather is actually really nice when you’re in the boat). Your driver will zoom around the lake, whipping around the ferries, taking you under and over the water, and giving you the best water-coaster experience ever.
5. CRUISE AND CHILL on The Spirit of Queenstown
Here’s the best way to see the whole of Lake Wakatipu and some of the surrounding farms and houses. We pre-ordered a delicious cheese board, found ourselves a perfect window-table for the family, and allowed the ferry to gently navigate us around the lake. There’s plenty of room on the cruise for restless kids to wander in the cabin, or you can head upstairs or out onto the bow if you love the outdoors and the fresh air. It’s a gentle cruise, and a great way to relax and restore.
6. FUEL UP at these awesome eateries
Feeding hungry kids can seriously add up, so mix it up a bit between cheap and cheerful restaurants, easy burgers, slap-up dinners and snacks on the run. Here’s six places (amongst many) that kids will love:
- Pedros for a fall-off-the-bone, slow-cooked lamb share-dinner
- White + Wong’s for delicious Asian fusion
- King Made Noodles for handmade Northwest Chinese noodles (made in front of you)
- Fergburger for easy, well-priced gourmet burgers
- Cookie Time Cookie Bar for Instagram-able ice cream, milk and cookie treats
- Patagonia for award-winning artisan ice cream
7. HIT THE SLOPES at a choice of skifields
If you’re holidaying in winter, then you should definitely hit the slopes with your teens and tweens. This is the perfect age to pick-up skiing or boarding, and you’ll be giving them the chance to enjoy a lifetime of fun. Queenstown is very close to Coronet Peak with wonderful valleys of snow to explore, early bird and late night options as well as easy road access. The Remarkables is only 20 minutes drive, and offers plenty of powder, a boutique field vibe and eight fun-park options (yes, really!).
Slightly further afield, you can go to Cardrona which is perfect for kids’ lessons, well-groomed runs with fun-park action and loads of eating options. If you’re experienced on the snow, head to Treble Cone for small queues and epic powder on the Saddle.
TIP: RENT A CAR that works for luggage, skis and older kids. With three teens and an enormous amount of luggage, we decided to hire a ute from Go Rental using their App, and let me tell you – this was the best hack ever! The hard-top tray carried so many bags, skis and boots, easily powered up snowy mountains, was a comfortable drive and had a good stereo system.
8. BUY SOUVENIRS & GIFTS that aren’t naff
If your kids are wanting to buy presents for their friends, head to Hetties Rock and Crystal Shop. Tweens and teens love this stuff and it’s a very cost-effective way to buy quirky mementos.
The Remarkables Sweet Shop is a great place to wallow away some time and every friend is super happy to receive something from here. Give the kids a budget, and let them carefully decide which treats are worthy. The Crème brulee fudge comes highly recommended.
Jetstar flies several times a day from Auckland to Queenstown and three times a week from Wellington to Queenstown. Fares start from $64 one way from Auckland and $57 one way from Wellington. Visit jetstar.com for more information and to book.
If you’re after more adventure, you’re in the right place:
- Adrenalin adventures like bungy jumping, skydiving, quad bikes or jet boating
- Free places to take your younger kids
- Family fun by age
By Maria Honey. thanks to Queenstown for your wonderful hospitality!