Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island has long been a leading destination for the world’s thrill-seeking adventurers. Home to a wide variety of adventure sports and exciting activities (including one of the world’s largest bungee jumps!), Queenstown is known as the place to let off some steam and test your limits. But what if you’ve chosen to study abroad in New Zealand for its top academics, Maori history, natural beauty and cool cities? Queenstown is still an unmissable destination. Here are some of the TEAN staff’s favorite places to explore, all while keeping your heart rate down (unless you really like chocolate!) in Queenstown.

1. Tiki Trail

Tiki Trail Queenstown
View from the top of the Tiki Trail. Photo by Sarah Bonneson, University of Rhode Island

Love going for a scenic walk but not game for the 5-6 hours it takes for the Ben Lomond track? TEAN’s NZ Resident Director Rachel Fenton recommends taking the Tiki Trail. It’s a 1-2 hour trek which takes you to the top of Bob’s Peak, one of the most iconic views of Queenstown. Not feeling the trek down? Grab the gondola, which gives all the scenic views with less effort.

2. Fergburger

The line out the door will give this gourmet burger joint away quickly as the place to be. Alice Milne, a Queenstown native and TEAN’s Resident Assistant, says ”Trust me, the hype is worth it. If you’re ordering Fergburger either call up ahead of time and order, or go in and order before you’re hungry – the wait is usually about 30 minutes and it’s not nice waiting around in the cramped space, so download the app or the go to the website that shows the numbers of orders that are ready; you can go and walk around the town or hang out by the lakefront while you wait.” Marketing Director Lauren Gabell still swears it’s the best burger she’s ever eaten, and loves that it’s guilt-free after a day of hiking the trails!

3. Wineries

Best known for their famous Pinot Noir, Queenstown wineries are some of the best around. “Central Otago is known as a great wine growing region. Enjoy the beautiful landscapes as you take a wine tasting tour of the region,” recommends Lauren. Rachel Fenton, New Zealand Resident Director, chooses The Winery as her favorite location where you can get “a comprehensive introduction to NZ wine with 80 wines to sample while experiencing a bit of Kiwi sophistication and culture”. Alice also loves Peregrine, Gibbston and Amisfield Wineries.

4. Milford Sound

Kayaking Milford Sound, New Zealand
Kayaking Milford Sound. Photo by Tiffany Young, Hartford University

Northwest of Queenstown you’ll find the beautiful fjord, Milford Sound. Here you can explore the rivers carved by glaciers and the mountains that surround, reaching hundreds of feet into the air. All our Kiwi staff recommend taking the cruise tour of this beautiful natural wonder. Frequently rated as one of New Zealand’s must-see destinations, the fjord is definitely worth a day of exploration!

5. Queenstown Gardens

Located on a tiny peninsula just south of Queenstown you’ll find the lush and relaxing Queenstown Gardens. On Lee (TEAN Dunedin Resident Assistant) loves it as a place to “relax and enjoy your surroundings”. Here you will find a wide variety of New Zealand flora and fauna. You can also check out the first permanently marked Frisbee Golf course in New Zealand, and have a toss around with some friends. The gardens are fondly referred to as the crown jewel of Queenstown – once you make your way here, you’ll definitely understand why!

6. Patagonia Chocolates

If you’re not too full from your Fergburger, you can take a quick 2-minute walk around the corner to Patagonia Chocolates to indulge in a variety of chocolate bars, coffees, ice creams, or Kaylie Adams (TEAN Program Manager) favorite, the hot chocolate. If you can’t make it during your time in the city, don’t forget to snag a treat in the Queenstown airport on your way out!

7. Paradise

Dart River at Paradise
Dart River at Paradise. Photo courtesy of Keith Milne.

Grab a bus from Queenstown for a relaxing ride to beautiful Glenorchy. Here you will find Paradise, home to one of the most iconic landscapes in New Zealand. Alice also recommends this as a place to see where plenty of ads and movies (yes, Lord of the Rings included) are filmed. Even if you aren’t a movie buff, its beauty will still make you breathless.

Alice sums it up well: “Queenstown is an awesome place; both beautiful and busy, full of nature but also full of adrenaline. There’s so much to do that you could return every weekend of your semester abroad and find something new and exciting to do.”

So join us for an incredible semester in New Zealand, or on the mid semester South Island Adventure! There’s plenty to explore, regardless of if you’re there for thrill seeking, or just exploring a new place.