Sitting on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and set against the dramatic Remarkables, Queenstown is New Zealand’s outdoor playground, a truly, beautiful adventure wonderland 365 days of the year.
No trip to New Zealand’s southern island is complete without exploring Queenstown, a historic mining town, now known for its proximity to some of the world’s best extreme sports.
Whether you want to ski the slopes of Coronet Peak, hike around the mountain scenery, bungee jump off Kawarau Gorge Bridge, jet-boat on the lake, or just chill out and wine taste, explore the town and soak in the nature therapy, there is something in Queenstown for you.
With that said, Queenstown can be an expensive destination for backpackers, and some areas may be better suited for your travel interests than others!
We created this guide on where to stay in Queenstown to help you figure out which area is best suited for your style and budget.
Keep on reading to learn more about our picks on Queenstown’s best areas to stay.
Table of Contents
- Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Queenstown
- Where to Stay in Queenstown
- Neighborhood Guide to Queenstown
- 5 Best Areas to Stay in Queenstown
- 1. Queenstown Hill – Where to Stay in Queenstown for the First Time
- 2. Downtown – Where to Stay in Queenstown on a Budget
- 3. Shotover Street – Where to Stay in Queenstown for Nightlife
- 4. Frankton – Coolest Place to Stay in Queenstown
- 5. Shotover – Where to Stay in Queenstown for Families
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Queenstown
- Where to stay in Queenstown for the first time – Queenstown Hill
- Where to stay in Queenstown on a budget – Downtown
- Best area to stay in Queenstown for nightlife – Shotover Street
- Coolest place to stay in Queenstown – Frankton
- Best neighborhood in Queenstown for families – Shotover
- Also on top of Queenstown Hill, admire the iron-worked Dream Basket sculpture
- Enjoy a picnic on the shores of the small mountain lake
- Check out the cairn sculptures left by previous walkers at the start of the douglas fir forest
Not worried about what specific area you stay in? Then check out our top picks for accommodation in Queenstown…
Best Hostel in Queenstown: Nomads Queenstown Backpackers
Big spacious rooms, a friendly atmosphere and free tea and coffee: this hostel is perfect.
This hostel is located in the middle of town among all of the action, and staff at the hotel can help arrange trips and activities. There are a variety of rooms to choose from, and each one features big, comfortable beds.
Best Airbnb in Queenstown: Stunning View and Luxury Living
Located right on the edge of the lake, this stylish studio apartment is the perfect base for your Queenstown trip. Enjoy the natural surroundings, sleep in a big comfortable bed and cook yourself breakfast in the morning – all just five minutes away from the centre of the city.
Best Hotel in Queenstown: Sherwood Queenstown
With friendly staff and massive comfortable rooms, this hotel is a great choice. The hotel’s shabby-chic interior creates a calming atmosphere and the location is excellent for getting properly stuck into what Queenstown has to offer.
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Queenstown
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Queenstown on New Zealand’s rugged South Island is world renowned as an epicenter for adventure sports, but there’s history and vineyards to explore here, too.
Nestled on the meandering higgledy-piggledy shoreline of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown has such an incredible natural setting; with the lake and mountains nearby, the opportunities for adventurous outdoors pursuits are almost endless.
But where in this beautifully set town should you stay? We’re about to run through the five best areas of Queenstown to give you a general idea.
Firstly there’s Queenstown Hill. As you might be able to tell from its name, this is a small mountain (907 meters) that naturally affords incredible views out over Queenstown and the lake. Though there is no housing as such on the mountain itself, there are a few places to stay on its lower reaches.
Downtown Queenstown is the place to stay in town if you want to be in the center of an urban area. There are restaurants, the pedestrianized Queenstown Mall, good seafood, bars and relaxed cafes to discover here.
Nearby Shotover Street is even more bustling, though it’s really only busy on the street itself, running a few blocks till it ends at the lake.
Frankton, a suburb to the east, features the Queenstown Airport, which not only flies domestically but to Australia, too.
If you want to stay at a quieter alternative to Queenstown itself, there’s a medium-sized shopping centre here: Remarkables Park Town Centre.
Further east across the Shotover River is the newly developed area of Shotover. With Queenstown practically on your doorstep, Shotover takes tranquil to another level and is a beautiful place to stay if you don’t mind fewer amenities.
If you’re still having trouble selecting an area that’s going to be right for you, then hold tight; we’re about to go into detail on the best areas in Queenstown.
5 Best Areas to Stay in Queenstown
Known not only for its adventure tourism but also for being a gateway to the stunning mountain range of The Remarkables, Queenstown has a firm foothold as one of the South Island’s primary tourist destinations; especially in terms of the great outdoors, it doesn’t get much greater than this.
Though the urban areas of Queenstown aren’t big, staying in one or another can be the difference between extra convenience or extra tranquility.
Let’s take a look at those places in question, and see what the best areas of adventurous Queenstown have to offer…
Known in Maori as Te Tapu-nui – ‘Mountain of Intense Sacredness’ – this relatively small mountain more commonly known as Queenstown Hill.
It’s the closest peak to our destination and as such affords wonderful views over the whole basin, including Queenstown, the S-shaped Lake Wakatipu and the magnificent Remarkables.
Halfway up the mountain, there’s a forest, which is great for nature-lovers, plus patches of picturesque farmland filled. There isn’t any accommodation on top of the hill, but places to stay at Queenstown Hill lie at the mountain’s feet.
Things to See and Do in Queenstown Hill
– Hike up to the top of Queenstown Hill for the incredible view and pass scenic woodlands and farmlands along the way.
– Also on top of Queenstown Hill, admire the iron-worked Dream Basket sculpture.
– Enjoy a picnic on the shores of the small mountain lake.
– Check out the cairn sculptures left by previous walkers at the start of the douglas fir forest.
Best Hostel in Queenstown Hill: Jucy Snooze Queenstown
Squeaky clean and super comfy, this hostel’s pod-style beds far exceed expectations. The pod beds provide a lot of privacy whilst the shared kitchen is a great spot to hang out and meet people.
The location is close to the best spots in town and the views from the balcony of the lake are mesmerizing.
Best Airbnb in Queenstown Hill: Cozy Cottage for 2
This beautiful cottage is conveniently located – only 10 minutes away from the International Airport and10 minutes away from the historic Arrow town. With many activities like golf courses, ski fields, wineries, restaurants, and art trails in the area. Its a great place for 2 guests looking for hidden ruins, stunning architecture and world-class food and wine.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Queenstown Hill: Melbourne Lodge
The big rooms at this hotel boast large windows, which let in lots of light and show off the surrounding landscape. Staff is helpful with arranging activities, and the area itself is calm and relaxed, though it’s just a five-minute walk to bars and restaurants. A big, tasty breakfast is also included in the price.
Right next to the city centre and close to the lake, this central location is good for travellers who want to get involved in adventure sports. There are many booking agents for the adventurous among you, plus simple tours of the region (including vineyards) for those who aren’t keen on bungee jumping.
In Downtown Queenstown you’ll also be in the middle of many restaurants and bars, so you can grab a bite to eat and something to drink pretty easily. Accommodation in this area is much cheaper than in other areas of Queenstown, but it brings with it the congestion of a city.
If you’re also looking for things to do in Queenstown on a budget, here’s an article on free and cheap things to do in Queenstown!
Things to See and Do in Downtown
– Head into a tour agent and book yourself something adventurous like flyboarding on the lake!
– Check out Skyline Queenstown, a gondola with amazing views of the city.
– Hire a bike at Vertigo Bikes and go for a pedal around the lake.
– Drink coffee at Vudu Cafe and watch the world go by.
– Take a look at Gilly’s Point for a view of the lake and some gentle hiking.
– Check out one of the local stores specialising in onyx ornaments.
– Try some the amazing selection of oysters, crayfish and other seafood at Fishbone.
Best Hostel in Downtown: Nomads Queenstown Backpackers
This hostel is surrounded by all of the action happening in town. The staff is helpful and will help you arrange activities; plus, there is free parking if you have a car with you. The bedrooms are warm and comfortable, and decorated with stylish furnishings.
Best Airbnb in Downtown: Gemini Lake View Vacation Home for 2
This beautiful home has unobstructed views of the Wakatipu lake and South Alp mountains which can be viewed through its ceiling to floor windows. With one bedroom and bathroom, It is only a five-minute drive to the city center. This new modern and luxury furnished house also its own outside BBQ stand.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Downtown: The Glebe Apartments
A fantastic location for getting stuck into what the city has to offer. Rooms are spacious, warm and cozy, and – most importantly – the beds are very comfortable.
There is free onsite parking and car hire available. Bars, restaurants and cafes are all in easy walking distance too.
This area is the centre of the backpacking vibe in Queenstown. As such, you can expect to find many hostels, bars, and other establishments that cater to young travelers and adventure tourism. The area is packed with great options for meals day or night; locals, as well as tourists, flock here for that.
Set mainly around one road – Shotover Street – and the surrounding blocks, this area is busy at any time of the day and is a great place to meet other backpackers. Plus, there are easy transport links here to keep costs low.
Things to See and Do in Shotover Street
– Eat a large and delicious sandwich at Fergburger – open ‘till 5AM!
– For a bit of fun go with some friends to the bizarre but brilliant Odyssey Sensory Maze.
– Browse the books and crate-dig at Bound Books & Records.
– Check out the art on offer at the gallery Queenstown Art Centre.
– Get advice on where to hike or hire a guide from Guided Walks Queenstown.
– Catch a ferry from Steamer Wharf out onto the lake for a fun and lively informal tour.
– Try the various delicious (and affordable!) meat dishes at Botswana Butchery.
Best Hostel in Shotover Street: YHA Queenstown Central
Clean rooms and a warm and welcoming atmosphere make this cool hostel a great choice, especially for solo travellers. The bed sheets are lovely and fresh and the linen is regularly cleaned. There’s a fun and friendly common area as well as a shared kitchen for guests to use.
The central location means things can get a bit noisy, but if you want to have a bit of a party then this is the spot for you.
Best Airbnb in Shotover Street: Private room for 2 with Panoramic Views
Stay in a private room of a beautiful home with incredible views of the Queenstown is located within 300m of a bus stop and a 3-minute drive to the center. The house has a shared bathroom and the deck is the perfect place to enjoy the panoramic view and maybe also enjoy a cup of coffee.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Shotover Street: Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park
With a great location close to the town centre, this hotel features good quality rooms with comfy beds. Also including a deck with tables to sit out in the sunshine, this resort-like hotel has tidy grounds with trees dotted around the grounds. It’s also within walking distance to the rest of town.
Located at the end of a large inlet of Lake Waktipu, Frankton – set to the east of Queenstown proper – is a suburban area known for its green spaces, long hours of sunshine and great lake views. It’s also where you’ll find Queenstown Airport where you can take international flights to Australia.
As opposed to the more central locations within Queenstown itself, staying in the pretty area of Frankton allows for a much more tranquil getaway in the area. Here you can grab yourself some accommodation with beautiful views, and still not stay far from the action of Queenstown.
Things to See and Do in Frankton
– Visit The Remarkables Park Town Centre for some shopping; it’s the biggest mall in Queenstown.
– Take a sightseeing flight from the airport over the snow-topped Remarkables themselves for spectacular views.
– Chill out in Davies Park and watch the world go by.
– Go for a stroll or a gentle jog at Kawarau Falls Park; it’s particularly nice in the evening.
– Have dinner at the picturesque Boathouse Cafe…
– … And afterwards take a boat out from Frankton Marina for a sunset cruise.
– Arrange a wine-tasting tour around the local vineyards!
Best Hostel in Frankton: Remarkables Earl Villa
A slice of home away from home, this place is less of a backpackers’ digs and more of a comfortable place to kick back. The view of the mountain range is mesmerising and makes it an extra-special spot. Rooms are clean and there’s a brilliant shared kitchen and living space. The location is close to shops and the airport too, so it’s extra convenient.
Best Airbnb in Frankton: Spacious Self Check-in Studio
Perfect for 2 guests, this apartment has one bedroom and bathroom, it comes with its own backyard where you can enjoy some time in the sun and relax. The apartment also has necessities like a kitchenette, living room with a couch and tv as well as complimentary WiFI.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Frankton : The Embassy
The luxurious atmosphere of The Embassy starts the moment you arrive: the views from the balcony are breathtaking and will captivate you for hours. The staff here will work hard to make your stay run smoothly.
The newly developed area of Shotover is located in the flat land to the east of the Shotover River that splits this area from Queenstown centre. Because it’s out of town this is a great place to stay for countryside living, family-friendly camping parks, but with all the amenities of a modern town.
Its secluded and tranquil setting means you’ll be having a paradise-like stay in Shotover. Located nine kilometres from the town centre, staying here you’ll still be able to reach the tour agencies and more vibrant areas of town if necessary. But – the countryside is all yours!
Things to See and Do in Shotover
– Hike up Bob’s Peak for some truly spectacular views of the lake.
– Go to lunch at the warm and relaxing The Hayes coffee shop.
– Have a stroll, BBQ, or try a spot of tennis at McBride Park.
– Take a moment to relax in Chantecler Park.
– Walk around Lake Hayes for some pretty views…
– … And go for a glass of wine at Wet Jacket Wines; they can help you pick some delicious wines from their own winery!
– Hike the gentle trail to Waldweg Point for a fantastic view.
– Cycle over the Old Shotover Bridge – with great scenery all the way
Best Hotels in Shotover: Queenstown Holiday Park
The holiday park offers good value accommodation among the beauty of nature. Stay a little away from the busy city centre and enjoy the solitude and calmness of the surrounding scenery.
With a range of accommodation on offer, from cottages to studios, you’re spoiled for options; the rooms are modern, clean and ideal for families (or backpackers on a budget), and they include a kitchen. The hostel offers onsite laundry.
Best Airbnb in Shotover: Modern Cabin
Situated at the base of the Coronet Ski Field, this stand-alone pod is just a few minutes away from Queenstown and comes with its own courtyard. Throughout the living room and the bathroom, the pod has been polished with concrete floors. The design has been completed with full-length windows, sliding doors, and cedar walls. The apartment has its own BBQ in the quiet courtyard and a swing beneath the willow tree to relax and enjoy a good afternoon.View on Airbnb
Stay at this fashionably designed lodge surrounded by mountains and vast open space. Get a group of friends together, or bring your family; once you arrive you won’t want to leave this cosy spot.
The interior of the lodge is quirky and cool and rooms come with a well-equipped kitchen including a dishwasher, which is helpful for families and groups.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Queenstown
In this guide, we have covered the 5 best areas to stay in Queenstown, including our recommendations for the best hostels and hotels in each area.
We also discussed the best things to do in Queenstown by area, but if you need a summary here are 12 awesome things to do in Queenstown to get your ideas flowing.
If you’re still not sure where to stay in Queenstown, we’ll recap our top two picks below.
Nomads Queenstown Backpackers is our favorite hostel because of its large, spacious rooms and comfortable beds, friendly atmosphere and staff, who help you arrange activities in Queenstown, and of course, the location: right in the middle of town.
Sherwood Queenstown is an awesome hotel with an excellent atmosphere and central location within Queenstown.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
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Need More Inspiration?
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