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6 of the Best Scenic Drives in Queenstown

6 of the Best Scenic Drives in Queenstown

This list of the best scenic drives in Queenstown includes some of the top road trips in New Zealand. You’d struggle to drive for long before encountering a good view in these parts, but I’ve organised it all so you’ll have an easier time planning your road trips around Queenstown!

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Queenstown to Arrowtown

The short drive from Queenstown to Arrowtown is a little boring if you go via the main road, but the back road past Coronet Peak is much better. Stop off at the Shotover River (Morning Star Reserve), head up to Coronet Peak for a cable car ride or enjoy the rural views around Arrowtown (I can’t remember where the third photo below was taken — somewhere close to Arrowtown though).

READ MORE: 10 0f the Best Things to Do in Arrowtown

Riding the Coronet Peak Gondola, Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown to Wanaka and the West Coast

The Crown Range, one of the highest roads in New Zealand, links the tourist towns of Queenstown and Wanaka. It starts just outside of Arrowtown and should take an hour. The views keep getting better as you near the top of the range, and once on the Wanaka side you could consider driving up to Cardrona Ski Field (in summer). 

From Wanaka you can drive to the West Coast through Mount Aspiring National Park / Haast Pass. Lots of waterfalls and short walks to do (check out Thunder Creek Falls and the Blue Pools), as well as some day walks / overnight hikes into the mountains. 

READ MORE: The Scenic Drive From Wanaka to the West Coast

Queenstown to Glenorchy / Paradise/ Kinloch

If there’s one scenic drive in Queenstown that you should definitely do, it’s this one. The road to Glenorchy hugs the coast of Lake Wakatipu, with plenty of places to stop and enjoy the views and lots of walks if you’re after some exercise. Glenorchy would be worth a visit even if the drive wasn’t so scenic. It’s a cool little town by the lake with a stunning (and easy) walk.

READ MORE: 8 of the Best Things to Do in Glenorchy

From there you can drive to Paradise and/or Kinloch — lots of nice views on these roads.

READ MORE: A Trip to Paradise

Queenstown to the Remarkables

This drive branches off the main road between Queenstown and Te Anau and is fun place to drive in summer. The views are amazing from many spots along this road, and once at the Remarkables Ski Area you can do the walk to Lake Alta. If you’re looking for a short scenic drive in Queenstown where you’ll see lots of mountain views this is a great option.

Queenstown to Te Anau and Milford Sound

Milford Sound is a popular next step from Queenstown, whether you’re visiting on a day trip or longer. The road from Queenstown to Te Anau is scenic for a start as it follows Lake Wakatipu to Kingston. Some great views on this road, with a few beach areas to stop at.

Then there’s a long boring bit (most of the way from Kingston to Te Anau) before probably the most beautiful road in New Zealand– Te Anau to Milford Sound. So many places to stop and enjoy the views, as well as some world-class day walks.



READ MORE: 13 of the Best Walks in Fiordland National Park

Queenstown to Central Otago

Central Otago is the perfect day trip destination from Queenstown. There are several historic towns to explore (Clyde, St Bathans and Cromwell are some of the best) as well as goldrush era ruins (Bendigo) and lots of easy walks.

READ MORE: 20 of the Best Things to Do in Central Otago

It’s best to spend a few days in the region of course, but it’s not far from Queenstown (Queenstown to Cromwell is only an hour) which makes it a far easier day trip than Milford Sound.

Other Scenic Drives in Queenstown

The Skippers Canyon Road is apparently really nice, but you need a tour to go there (or a 4WD). The road to Macetown from Arrowtown is the same. Aside from that, there aren’t too many other roads heading out from Queenstown — the ones I’ve mentioned should keep you busy for a while though!

Where to Stay in Queenstown

There are many great accommodation options in Queenstown. We highly recommend choosing a hotel with a view of the Remarkables and/or Lake Wakatipu. Some good choices include: Ramada Queenstown Central Novotel Queenstown LakesideHotel St Moritz Queenstown – MGallery by Sofitel | Crowne Plaza Queenstown | Kamana Lakehouse | Copthorne Hotel & Apartments Queenstown Lakeview Pencarrow Lodge Queenstown | Rydges Lakeland Resort Queenstown

If you are looking for a hostel or motel, here are some good options within walking distance or near the lakefront JUCY Snooze QueenstownAbsoloot Hostel QueenstownAdventure Queenstown HostelLomond Lodge Motel & Apartments |Lakeside Motel.



Are you planning a trip to New Zealand? Check out our South Island travel guide!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.