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 south 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 Ben Lummond (the mountain, not the person), or just chill out and taste New Zealand’s fine wine – Queenstown has it all (and more!).

With that said, Queenstown can be an expensive destination for backpackers, and some areas may be better suited for your travel interests than others. So, deciding where to stay in Queenstown is not a light decision to be made.

Lucky for you (and me!), I’ve visited Queenstown many a time and have compiled the BEST areas to stay depending on your travel style and budget. After a luxury hotel on the water? Or, just the cheapest bed in town? I’ve got you covered.

So, let’s dive straight in and discover where you are destined to stay in Queenstown!

Where to Stay in Queenstown

Backpacking Queenstown and not worried about what specific area you stay in? Then check out my top picks for accommodation in Queenstown…

They literally call this place Paradise. It’s actually the name of a town!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

3BR Home with Stunning Views | Best Airbnb in Queenstown

Located 800 meters from the town center and boasting incredible views of the Lake Wakatipu, this stylish three bedroom home 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 downtown Queenstown.

Nomads Queenstown Backpackers | Best Hostel in Queenstown

Big spacious rooms, a friendly atmosphere, and free tea and coffee: this hostel is perfect. Nomads Queenstown Backpackers is one of the best hotels in Queenstown because of its location. It’s nestled 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.

Sherwood Queenstown | Best Hotel in 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.

Queenstown Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in Queenstown

Queenstown Hill, Queenstown

Queenstown Hill

Known in Maori as Te Tapu-nui – ‘Mountain of Intense Sacredness’ – this relatively small mountain more commonly known as Queenstown Hill.

Downtown, Queenstown


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.

Shotover Street, Queenstown

Shotover Street

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.

Frankton, Queenstown


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.

Shotover, Queenstown


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.

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 outdoor pursuits are almost endless.

But where in this beautifully set town should you stay? Well, here are what I consider to be the five best areas of Queenstown.

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 center here: Remarkables Park Town Centre.

Further east across the Shotover River is the 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; I’m about to go into detail on the best areas in Queenstown.

Ok, where did I park my car?
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

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…

1. Queenstown Hill – Where to Stay in Queenstown for the First Time

Known in Maori as Te Tapu-Nui – ‘Mountain of Intense Sacredness’ – this relatively small mountain is more commonly known as Queenstown Hill.

It’s the closest peak to Queenstown 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.

The iconic summit of Queenstown Hill … I tramped it in jandals because I’m an idiot!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

3BR home with THE BEST views | Best Airbnb in Queenstown Hill

Located 800 meters from the town center and boasting incredible views of the Lake Wakatipu, this stylish three bedroom home 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 downtown Queenstown.

Jucy Snooze Queenstown | Best Hostel in Queenstown Hill

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.

Melbourne Lodge | Best Hotel in Queenstown Hill

The big rooms at this Queenstown hotel boast large windows, which let in lots of light and show off the surrounding landscape. The 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. This is one of the best luxury hotels for its price and facilities. A big, tasty breakfast is also included in the price.

Things to See and Do in Queenstown Hill

  1. Hike up to the top of Queenstown Hill for the incredible view and pass scenic woodlands and farmlands along the way.
  2. Try your hand at Tandem Paragliding.
  3. Become a wine connoisseur on an Otago Winery Tour.
  4. Also on top of Queenstown Hill, admire the iron-worked Dream Basket sculpture.
  5. Enjoy a picnic on the shores of the small mountain lake.
  6. Embark on a horse trek up Walker Peak.
  7. Check out the cairn sculptures left by previous walkers at the start of the douglas fir forest.
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2. Downtown – Where to Stay in Queenstown on a Budget

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. Motels in Queenstown are located around downtown for easy access to amenities without the high price tags.

Many of Queenstown Hotels are around this area, from luxury hotels to super budget hostels. It’s the ideal place to stay for any type of traveller.

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!

Downtown, Queenstown
Bet ya didn’t expect that in Queenstown!

Gemini Lake View Vacation Home for 2 | Best Airbnb in Downtown

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 downtown Queenstown. This modern and luxury furnished house also has its own outside BBQ stand.

Nomads Queenstown Backpackers | Best Hostel in Downtown

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.

The Glebe Apartments | Best Hotel in Downtown

Nestled in a fantastic location in central Queenstown, perfect for getting stuck into what the city has to offer, is this affordable luxury accommodation. 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 within walking distance too.

Things to See and Do in Downtown

  1. Head into a tour agent and book yourself something adventurous like flyboarding on the lake!
  2. Check out Skyline Queenstown, a gondola with amazing views of the city.
  3. Take a helicopter tour and fly over the Remarkables Mountain Range
  4. Hire a bike at Vertigo Bikes and go for a pedal around the lake.
  5. Take a Lake Wakatipu scenic cruise.
  6. Drink coffee at Vudu Cafe and watch the world go by.
  7. Take a look at Gilly’s Point for a view of the lake and some gentle hiking.
  8. Check out one of the local stores specialising in onyx ornaments.
  9. Try some of the amazing selection of oysters, crayfish, and other seafood at Fishbone.
  10. Test your limits at the Fear Factory Haunted House.

3. Shotover Street – Where to Stay in Queenstown for Nightlife

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.

There is even a beach!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Private Home with Spa & Panoramic Views | Best Airbnb in Shotover Street

Stay in a four-bedroom family home capable of housing up to 10 guests and featuring spectacular views of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown. The house has a stunning deck with a hot tub, which is the perfect place to enjoy the panoramic view and maybe also enjoy a cup of coffee. This luxury accommodation is just a stone’s throw from central Queenstown and is the best place to stay in Queenstown for large groups.

Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park | Best Hotel in Shotover Street

With a great location close to the town centre, this is one of the best hotels in Queenstown. It features good quality rooms with comfy beds and some rooms have private balconies. 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.

YHA Queenstown Central | Best Hostel in Shotover Street

Clean rooms and a warm and welcoming atmosphere make this cool hostel a great choice, especially for solo travellers. The bedsheets 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.

Things to See and Do in Shotover Street

  1. Eat a large and delicious sandwich at Fergburger – open ‘till 5AM!
  2. For a bit of fun go with some friends to the bizarre but brilliant Odyssey Sensory Maze.
  3. Browse the books and crate-dig at Bound Books & Records.
  4. Take a Shotover River Jetboat Ride.
  5. Check out the art on offer at the gallery Queenstown Art Centre.
  6. Get advice on where to hike or hire a guide from Guided Walks Queenstown.
  7. Catch a ferry from Steamer Wharf out onto the lake for a fun and lively informal tour.
  8. Get adventurous over at Skippers Canyon.
  9. Try the various delicious (and affordable!) meat dishes at Botswana Butchery.
  10. Paint the town red on a Bar crawl around town.
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4. Frankton – Coolest Place to Stay in Queenstown

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.

It’s a hikers paradise.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Remarkables Earl Villa | Best Hostel in Frankton

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 Remarkables Mountain Range is mesmerizing and makes it an extra-special spot. The 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.

The Hilton Resort & Spa | Best Hotel in Frankton

One of the best luxury hotels in Queenstown is undoubtedly the Hilton Queenstown Resort. From the moment you arrive: the views looking out over Lake Wakatipu will leave you stunned. Each room comes with a gas fireplace and king-size bed, the ultimate place to relax after a long day of exploring. There is also an indoor swimming pool, fitness center and spa. The staff here will work hard to make your stay run smoothly.

Spacious Self Check-in Studio | Best Airbnb in Frankton

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.

Things to See and Do in Frankton

  1. Visit The Remarkables Park Town Centre for some shopping; it’s the biggest mall in Queenstown.
  2. Take a sightseeing flight from the airport over the snow-topped Remarkables themselves for spectacular views.
  3. Chill out in Davies Park and watch the world go by.
  4. Go for a stroll or a gentle jog at Kawarau Falls Park; it’s particularly nice in the evening.
  5. Take a Southern Glacier Helicopter tour.
  6. Have dinner at the picturesque Boathouse Cafe…
  7. … And afterwards take a boat out from Frankton Marina for a sunset cruise.
  8. Arrange a wine-tasting tour around the local vineyards!

5. Shotover – Where to Stay in Queenstown for Families

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!

Mountains, beaches… it’s got em both!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Queenstown Holiday Park | Best Hotels in Shotover

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.

Modern Cabin | Best Airbnb in Shotover

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.

Manata Lodge | Best Lodge in Shotover

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.

Things to See and Do in Shotover

  1. Hike up Bob’s Peak for some truly spectacular views of the lake.
  2. Take the Skyline Gondola up the mountains for incredible views.
  3. Go to lunch at the warm and relaxing The Hayes coffee shop.
  4. Have a stroll, BBQ, or try a spot of tennis at McBride Park.
  5. Take a moment to relax in Chantecler Park.
  6. Walk around Lake Hayes for some pretty views…
  7. … And go for a glass of wine at Wet Jacket Wines; they can help you pick some delicious wines from their own winery!
  8. Hike the gentle trail to Waldweg Point for a fantastic view.
  9. Cycle over the Old Shotover Bridge – with great scenery all the way
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FAQ about Finding a Place to Stay in Queenstown

Here’s what people usually ask me about the areas of Queenstown and where to stay.

What To Pack For Queenstown

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
Stay Dry With a Micro Towel

Sea To Summit Micro Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

Make Some New Buddies…
Make Some New Buddies…

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Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!
Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!

Grayl Geopress Water Bottle

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Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Queenstown

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

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Nearby Arrowtown has an old timey feel.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Queenstown

In this guide, I have covered the 5 best areas to stay in Queenstown, including my recommendations for the best hostels and hotels in each area. I also listed 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, I’ll recap my top two picks for you. Nomads Queenstown Backpackers is my 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 I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!

Looking for more info on travelling to Queenstown and New Zealand?

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!