Looking up the Shotover River Canyon from Onsen Hot Pools

What to do in Queenstown when it rains

A rainy day can put a real damper on your travel plans, particularly if you happen to be traveling solo. I spent three days in Queenstown, and happened to be there at a time they were experiencing extraordinary wet weather, to the point of flooding fears, so it meant I was looking for creative things to do in Queenstown when raining. Luckily for me, while Queenstown might be known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, there’s plenty of other gems you can find to have fun when it’s pouring.


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Queenstown Indoor activities

Skyline Gondola

If taking the luge back down isn’t your thing, this is definitely an activity you can schedule in the rain. Even in the rain you can have a delicious meal with a view sitting 450 metres above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, from the top of the Skyline Gondola

Sister to the Gondola in Rotorua, on New Zealand’s North Island, the first gondola travelled up Bob’s Peak in 1967, and has become a New Zealand Icon.

At the top there is both a cafe and a Restaurant depending on your tastes and budget. If you are there later in the evening the buffet restaurant may be the only option still open. It is more expensive but the food was good quality and there is a great selection to choose from.

Queenstown by night from top of Skyline Gondola

Dessert section of Skyline Gondola buffet restaurant
Lets face it, its the best section of the buffet right!

I would recommend purchasing tickets in advance as they are a little cheaper. Since my visit was seizing the opportunity of a break in the wet weather I just turned up, and it was definitely more expensive that way. You can choose the basic gondola ride or the ride plus meal deal. You will need to choose a seating time for the meal.


Location: Brecon Street Queenstown. Just follow the signs. There is parking available at the bottom.

Opening Hours: 9am and the last gondola departs from the bottom at 9pm. The last gondola down will be when the restaurant closes. Open 7 days.

Price: Prices start at NZ$44  per adult and NZ$26 per child for the gondola ride only


Odyssey Sensory Maze

This is a definite must-do if you have kids along, but its just as much fun for the adults!

The Odyssey Sensory Maze is a series of rooms that will mess with your senses. Strobe and coloured lighting, mirrored walls and rooms of complete darkness await you as you feel your way through the maze. The kids will love wading through the balloon pit and ball pit and finding the right path to get through the jungle room. All participants are given gloves and instructed to keep their hands in front of them, good advice especially when you get to the room of mirrors where you really can’t trust your eyes.

You’ll be asked to give up any loose items before you enter, so no photos I can share on this one. I’d recommend not leaving anything in your pockets, if something falls out in that ball pit you aren’t likely to be seeing it again!

Also my hot tip for the balloon room, which comes up first, is go low. It is deceptive how far away the floor is under the piles of balloons and I took a tumble on my first round through.


Location: 57 Shotover Street Queenstown. I’d recommend not taking the car as parking is for limited times.

Opening Hours: 10am – 9pm Sunday to Thursday and 10am – 10pm Fridays and Saturdays.

Price: NZ$32 for an adult single entry and NZ$22 for a child if you just walk up. Tickets can be prebooked online for a discounted rate. I’d recommend paying the extra $5 for the one hour experience, which includes 3D goggles to get the most out of the lighting effects and means you can go through the maze as many times as you like in the space of an hour. I got quicker each time but was able to easily get around four times in the hour. Expect it to take longer with kids.


Fear Factory

I love a good haunted house. It’s always my favourite attraction at any theme park or carnival! Fear Factory is next level.

This is probably not one for the kids. Children younger than 7 cannot enter and under 12 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Children between the ages of 12 and 16 may enter without a parent or guardian provided one signs for them.

This was another one I couldn’t take in any loose items so no photos, but there are photos on their website you can check out for yourself.

I don’t want to give too much away, but this is another maze, and it is pitch black. A row of red lights in the ceiling is your only clue to finding your way through. It’s likely you’ll do a lot of jumping out of your skin and shrieking along the way, things are much scarier in the dark.

If at any time you feel you can’t handle it you can call out a designated password at any time, at which you will be taken through an emergency exit. A couple went in before me and I was still waiting for my turn to go in when they exited with the girl in tears. It certainly helped to lift my heart rate somewhat, probably not helped by going through on my own.

They will touch you, they will appear out of nowhere to scream at you, and they will follow you menacingly. You’ll jump simply because you didn’t know someone was there.

I did get stuck going in a circle a few times, unable to find the next light. The actors did help me with laser pointers but the front desk attendant said they don’t always. They must have taken pity on me flying solo.

If you love a good scare, you’ll find this super fun!


Location: 54 Shotover Street Queenstown.

Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm 7 days

Price: NZ$40 Adults and NZ$20 for kids for walkins, or save NZ$5 by booking online at least 24 hours in advance. A family ticket can be purchased for NZ$99.


Onsen Hot Pools and day spa

Relatively new to Queenstown, this is an awesome way to spend a couple of hours pampering yourself.

Take some time out to relax in a cedar lined hot tub looking out over the Shotover River Canyon, and pair it with a face or body treatment. They’re open late too, so you can either sit back and enjoy the mountain view with your included refreshments, or on a clear night take in the stars.

Looking up the Shotover River Canyon from Onsen Hot Pools

For the fans, the Shotover River featured in Lord of The Rings in the scene where Arwen washes away the Ringwraiths. It was spliced together with a location on the Arrow River. You can check out more Lord of The Rings locations near Queenstown too.

Bookings are essential as they do fill up quickly, I was only able to get the hot pool experience booking the day before.

Swimsuits are required to be worn, and I’d advise being already in yours when you arrive as your time will start from when they let you into your private room, you don’t want to waste precious soaking time getting ready!

Looking out over Shotover River from Onsen Hot Pools

Location: 162 Arthurs Point Road, Arthurs Point, Queenstown.

Opening Hours: 9am to 11pm 7 days

Price: Prices start at NZ$87.50 for a single adult bather during the day, though the price per person reduces with more adults in the tub. Childrens rates are NZ$32.50. Packages start from NZ$300.


Queenstown Outdoor Activities

Milford Sound day trip from Queenstown

Milford Sound is pretty much the wettest place in New Zealand, so chances are it’s going to be raining when you get there anyway. It is no less spectacular and in fact all the more atmospheric with the mist and the rain. Located in Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound runs inland from the Tasman Sea, and the body of water is surrounded by spectacular cliff faces with cascading waterfalls. A cruise on the sound is an experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Cruising on Milford Sound

In any conditions it is a place that will take your breath away and if it isn’t on your itinerary to drive yourself as I did, it is worth considering looking at doing as a Milford Sound day tour from Queenstown. The drive down to the sound is a sight to behold in itself, so it is worth taking advantage of the luxury glass roof coach on the way to your cruise of the sound. Be aware though, it will be a long day!


Location: Pickup from your accommodation

Opening Hours: Pickup before 7am

Price: From NZ$191 per person




If you would rather drive yourself and have the luxury of stopping for photos along the way, I had a great experience with the Southern Discoveries Scenic Cruise.


Location: Take the shuttle bus or walk from the Milford Sound visitors centre

Opening Hours: Multiple cruise times on offer starting from 9am

Price: Start from NZ$54 per adult for the basic cruise

Mist and snow capped mountains on the journey down to Milford Sound



Jetboat Ride

I didn’t get to do this one myself, but I did hear it raved about. And since you’re going to get wet anyway it doesn’t matter if it’s raining!

I have included a few options to choose from below.


Queenstown Night activities

Bar Crawl

Now I’m not a big drinker by anyone’s definition, but I was flying solo on a Saturday night in Queenstown with no concrete plans the next day and I walked past a sign in town advertising a bar crawl.

It sounded like a great way to experience the Queenstown nightlife and meet some people doing it!

The evening includes entry to four bars, discounted drinks and a shot at each venue. There a couple of companies that run them, but the Kiwi Crawl ticket also includes pizza, games and prizes.


Location: The London, next door to Fergburger where you will undoubtedly end up at some early hour of the morning.

Opening Hours: The event will kick off at 9pm and go for four hours

Price: From NZ$34




Minus 5 Ice Bar

Queenstown has an Ice Bar!

I was keen to check it out but unfortunately it wasn’t included in the bar crawl and there is an entry fee of NZ$35 which includes a cocktail. You’ll be provided warm clothing upon entry and have the opportunity to immerse yourself in a place crafted entirely from ice.

There is an ice bar crawl that includes this in the itinerary in addition to four other bars, shots and pizza, so if the ice bar takes your fancy that might be the way to go.


Location: The London

Opening Hours: The event will kick off at 9pm and go for four hours

Price: From NZ$34



Pub on Wharf

If live music is your thing, head on down to the waters edge, if its not flooded that is, and sit down for a drink or meal at Pub on Wharf.

With a roaring fire and live music on offer every night of the week from 9pm and a decent feed, its a pretty good place to kick back. The musician playing the night I was there was top notch and the meal was massive and tasty.


Location: 88 Beach Street Queenstown

Opening Hours: Food is served from 10am until 10pm with a break from 4 – 5pm.

Price: Free to enter. Mains start from NZ$20


Where to stay in Queenstown

Given I was spending a few days in Queenstown I was keen to splash out a little and rented an Airbnb looking over Lake Wakatipu. I woke up in the mornings looking out over this beautiful lake.

Lake Wakatipu as seen from the balcony of Queenstown Airbnb

Check out your other options for accommodation in Queenstown below.

If a hotel or Airbnb isn’t your style, freedom camping in New Zealand is hugely popular and can be a great way to keep accommodation costs down.


My Photography Equipment

If you are interested in what photography equipment I use and recommend, check out some of the results in my Photography Equipment List.


Have you got any other great suggestions for rainy day activities in Queenstown? Let me know below and if you liked this don’t forget to share!

The best ideas for what to do in Queenstown when it rains, including the best indoor, outdoor and night time activities

The best ideas for what to do in Queenstown when it rains, including the best indoor, outdoor and night time activities

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3 thoughts on “What to do in Queenstown when it rains”

  1. Milford sound is definitely a worthwhile trip. I booked the overnight version, and thought I must be mad spending all this money on a trip where it is likely to be raining. But it didn’t rain, and the trip was wonderful. Thanks for the reminders of a great trip.

  2. These are really helpful ideas. Those hot pools sound fabulous. We had an amazing time there, and fortunately the weather was good so we didn’t do any of the indoor things.

  3. Looking forward to our trip to Queenstown soon! We are currently in Christchurch and will go north waiting for the flood to disappear and the roads to re-open… ^^

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