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Things to do in

Central Otago

Our most recommended things to do in Central Otago

Queenstown: Spirit of Queenstown Lake Wakatipu Scenic Cruise

1. Queenstown: Spirit of Queenstown Lake Wakatipu Scenic Cruise

Cruise farther and see more on this 1.5-hour Queenstown scenic cruise. Sit back, relax and enjoy spectacular views of the Remarkables, Bob’s Cove, Cecil Peak and Mt. Earnslaw from the comfort of the Spirit of Queenstown – an environmentally friendly and luxurious cruise boat. Take in panoramic views from the open top deck. Enjoy refreshments, snacks and lunch served in the café on board. Cruise across spectacular Lake Wakatipu as you enjoy entertaining commentary provided by the local skipper.

Shotover River: Extreme Jet Boat Experience

2. Shotover River: Extreme Jet Boat Experience

Take on the ultimate jet boat experience on the Shotover River for a breathtaking ride through dramatic and narrow canyons, located less than a 10-minutes drive from Queenstown. A short drive from Queenstown will have you at the shores of the Shotover River. Meet your experienced guide and gear up for your high-speed jet boat ride. Hold on tight as the driver expertly navigates the jet boat over white-water rapids and squeezes through the narrow walls of the Shotover Canyon. Speed past rocky outcrops, skim around boulders, and zip through the dramatic and narrow canyons as its walls tower above you. After 25 thrilling minutes, return to the jet base and relax on the shuttle transfer back to Queenstown.

Otago Winery Tour with Gourmet Wine & Food-Paired Lunch

3. Otago Winery Tour with Gourmet Wine & Food-Paired Lunch

Make the most of your stay in Queenstown with this half-day wine and food experience for an unforgettable taste of Central Otago’s wine region. Enjoy a winery lunch consisting of several tasting dishes each perfectly matched by the Chief Winemaker and Head Chef, using estate wines and fresh local produce. Indulge in wine tasting and presentations at 3 wineries, visiting one larger well-known winery and two boutique style wineries. The tour also includes a wine cave tour and tasting, providing you with an insight into the local great wines and the Central Otago wine industry.

Glenorchy & Paradise Scenic Half-Day Tour from Queenstown

4. Glenorchy & Paradise Scenic Half-Day Tour from Queenstown

Just 45 minutes from Queenstown, Glenorchy is nestled on the northern shores of Lake Wakatipu and is home to what many say is New Zealand's best scenery and a slice of Middle-Earth magic. View stunning scenery and alpine vistas as you are guided in style aboard a luxury Mercedes van. Enjoy an overload of sightseeing and views packed into a fun half-day adventure to Glenorchy and beyond. Upon arrival in Glenorchy, you will be awe struck as you gaze at the mountain ranges and native beech forest which set the backdrop for this rustic town. You will have some time to check out the town's local sites and hidden gems, while also learning about Glenorchy and its fascinating Maori history. After Glenorchy, visit Paradise, view Diamond Lake, and explore the surrounding areas. There’s endless natural beauty and scenic stops along the way, ensuring you’ll go home with some postcard-worthy photos. View multiple Lord of the Rings movie locations, such as Twelve Mile Delta, where the first fight between Faramir's Rangers and the Giant Oliphaunts took place. In a location called "Paradise," you will also get to see the famous locations of Isengard and Saruman's Tower. Costumes are available, so you can re-create scenes and dress as a character from the movie. Whether you are a Lord of the Ring’s fan or not, you will be impressed with the stunning scenery surrounding these locations. Taste a kiwi-style morning and afternoon tea with a spectacular back drop. Your guide will set up the ultimate picnic in one of a number of picturesque locations, consisting of classic, kiwi delights. With a stunning natural backdrop comprised of majestic mountain ranges and native beech forest, Glenorchy is sure to leave you speechless.

From Queenstown: 4-Hour Afternoon Boutique Wine Tour

5. From Queenstown: 4-Hour Afternoon Boutique Wine Tour

On this 4-hour afternoon, boutique wine tour, have the chance to explore the Central Otago region and try its exquisite wines. Meet your guide and depart from the Queenstown Station Building at 2:00 PM. From here you'll visit three boutique wineries in the Central Otago wine region. As a small group, have an intimate experience learning about the wine region. Delish in a delectable cheese platter while trying up to 15 different types of wine. Enjoy a relaxed afternoon among the spectacular scenery of Central Otago.

From Queenstown: Mount Cook and Hooker Valley Day Trip

6. From Queenstown: Mount Cook and Hooker Valley Day Trip

Visit breathtaking locations in Queenstown as you make your way to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Travel with a reliable tour guide who will share stories and rich background knowledge on Queenstown and the Mount Cook area. Start your tour in the stunning city of Queenstown. Drive through the Kawarau Suspension Bridge and marvel at the scenery the Kawarau Gorge has to offer. Stop at the Roaring Meg Lookout to take photos of your stunning view. Then, enter the region of Cromwell, famous for fruits and wine and where you can see huge fields of vines. Next, traverse the majestic Lindis Pass which lies between two valleys against a backdrop of a bright blue sky. This stretch of highway is one of the only three Alpine roads through the otherwise impassable Southern Alps. After taking photos at the top of the pass, drive through the Mackenzie District and visit the township of Omarama. Turning west, you'll enter Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, and Lake Pukaki will emerge in front of you. Proceed to the start of the Hooker Valley Track and depart on a 3-hour self-guided hike with amazing views of Hooker Lake, Hooker Glacier, and Mount Cook. Finish your tour by visiting High Country Salmon as you make your way back to Queenstown.

From Queenstown: Mount Cook Heli-Hike and Tour Combo

7. From Queenstown: Mount Cook Heli-Hike and Tour Combo

Discover everything the beautiful Mount Cook and Tasman Glacier area has to offer on a guided small-group full-day trip from Queenstown. Meet your small group early in the morning and hop on the minivan which will take you to the Tasman Glacier, stopping at some of the area's most iconic sights along the way. Make your way through the Kawarau Gorge, passing the Kawarau Suspension Bridge and of course the famous Roaring Meg Lookout. Drive past sights such as the beautiful Lake Dunstan, Lindis Pass, and the Cromwell wine region, stopping for photos along the way, before arriving in Omarama. Here, spot Merino sheep and sample New Zealand's creamiest chicken pie before continuing to Lake Pukaki, where you can spot several Lord of the Rings filming locations. Next, get ready for the adventure of a lifetime with a Tasman Glacier Heli Hike. Combine the excitement of walking on New Zealand’s biggest glacier with the stunning scenic helicopter fly-bys of New Zealand’s largest mountain, Aoraki/Mt Cook. After flying to a remote part of the glacier, follow your guide as they cut steps in the glacier, using skills handed down from New Zealand's mountain pioneers. Finish your hike with another spectacular scenic flight back to the base. After your flight, stop for a quick photo stop in Mount Cook village before continuing to High Country Salmon, a local salmon farm, where you can feed the fish and taste some of the freshest salmon in New Zealand. Stop at Mrs. Jones Suncrest Orchard to try or buy her delicious local fruit or real fruit ice cream before returning to Queenstown with your group.

Boutique Winery Half-Day Tour & Vineyard Platter-Style Lunch

8. Boutique Winery Half-Day Tour & Vineyard Platter-Style Lunch

Discover Central Otago and some of its world-class wines on this small group tour. Accompanied by an experienced and knowledgeable wine guide, you will visit a selection of the region’s premium vineyards, taste a range of fine wines, and enjoy a gourmet platter-style lunch. A maximum group size of ten adults ensures the pace of the tour is relaxed and informative with time to learn about the early history, master the art of wine appreciation, and visit the historic Old Cromwell Town. Central Otago is a remarkable region in New Zealand. It is steeped in early pioneering history, has rugged spectacular scenery, produces some of New Zealand’s tastiest stone fruits, and has now become renowned for its outstanding wines. Pinot Noir is the real star of the region but there are many outstanding examples of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Departing at 11:00, you will venture through the rugged Kawarau Gorge to visit 4 of the region’s finest boutique vineyards in the Bannockburn and the Gibbston Valley sub regions. Lunch is provided in the peaceful setting of Carrick Winery, overlooking the Bannockburn Inlet of Lake Dunstan. This tour is a great introduction to the region’s wine, history, culture, and fine cuisine, and makes a great afternoon out from Queenstown. Upgrade your experience by adding a jet boat ride or 9 holes of golf.

Gourmet Food and Wine Tour with Lunch and Wine Tastings

9. Gourmet Food and Wine Tour with Lunch and Wine Tastings

Visit 4 premium vineyards over 2 wine subregions (Gibbston and the Cromwell/Bannockburn basin). Have a wine barrel cooked lunch consisting of 5 tasting dishes matched with wines for a unique tasting in Australasia's largest underground wine cave. Taste local cheeses at a local vineyard. Visit Old Cromwell town and the must-see Arrowtown. Have a taste of locally handcrafted chocolates at your leisure. Then, go on a stunning drive through the Kawarau Gorge whilst learning about the early pioneering history of this rugged region. View the historic Kawarau Bridge and original AJ Hackett Bungy.

Queenstown: Mount Cook Premium Guided Day Tour

10. Queenstown: Mount Cook Premium Guided Day Tour

The day begins with early morning pickup from your accommodation in Queenstown and heads through the heart of the South Island towards New Zealand’s tallest peak, Aoraki Mount Cook. Along the way, soak up unforgettable scenic views and stop at the Cromwell Fruit Bowl, Lindis Pass, Omarama, and Lake Pukaki. As you travel, listen to your guide’s fascinating commentary about the local scenery, history, and culture. Arrive at Mount Cook Village and spend 3.5 hours exploring. Choose to take a walk to the impressive Lake Mueller for a close-up look at Mount Sefton’s glaciers, or experience the incredible activities on offer at Mount Cook. On the return journey to Queenstown, enjoy a stop at the Twizel Salmon Farm, before arriving back to the city in the early evening.

Other Sightseeing Options in Central Otago

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What people are saying about Central Otago

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 466 reviews

The day was fabulous, great food n wine, hugely informative, and our guide Angus was not only wonderfully educated and in harmony with the region but was outstanding company. Can’t recommend highly enough 10/10!!!

Amazing trip, Dan our driver and guide was very knowledgeable on surrounding and entertaining at the same time. Made the long drives seem far shorter then they were. Thanks for the great experience Dan!

Smooth ride on the lake with outdoor options for a better view, and the views of the mountains looking up towards Glenorchy are amazing. Informative but not overdone commentary by the captain.

It was smooth and with great history. The skipper also stopped a few places for photos which was great

I really wonderful experience. Great wine, food, guide and people.