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Museum Guide for Queenstown

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Queenstown, being a largely outdoors and hands-on destination, has a unique lineup of museums and exhibits for visitors to enjoy. Not your typical museum guide, you will find there is more to do here than see, from workshops to gold mining, sheep shearing to wine tasting. With a heavy focus on local culture, history, and wildlife, this guide will help you get to know Queenstown's industry, culture, and narrative past, all while having a great time. (Naturally, Lord of the Rings buffs will also find something here.)

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Thrill Seeker
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nature Lover
  • Thrifty Traveller

9 Places

4 City Tips

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Map

9 Places

Lakes District Museum & Art Gallery

Art Museums

Queenstown Arts Centre

Art Galleries

Kiwi Birdlife Park

Nature & Wildlife Areas

The Winery

Wine Tours & Tastings , Wine Bars

Real Journeys - TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship Cruises

Boat Tours

Ivan Clarke Gallery

Art Galleries

Pure Glenorchy Scenic Lord of the Rings Tours

4WD, ATV & Off-Road Tours, Film & TV Tours, Private Tours, Sightseeing Tours, Photography Tours

Queenstown Underwater Observatory

Aquariums

Arrowtown Chinese Settlement

Historic Sites, Hiking Trails

Madison S's City Tips

  • Make sure to give yourself plenty of time for each attraction. Some may grab your interest in unexpected ways, and Queenstown is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace.
  • Many local activities provide free transport. However, for those that don't, Queenstown has a great public bus system.
  • Make sure to bring a sturdy pair of shoes on your travels, as a visit to Queenstown tends to involve a lot of walking and enjoying the great outdoors.
  • Many attractions tend to be within walking distance of the city center, so ask at your hotel how far your destination is. (Often, it's easiest to walk.)
  • Save
    Lakes District Museum & Art Gallery
    Art Museums
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    Madison S Says:

    Step back in time at the Lakes District Museum and Art Gallery, where the history of the area is brought to life. Located in Arrowhead, the museum boasts a small but solid collection of costumes and memorabilia, photographs and artifacts detailing early settler life, including old printing presses and stage coaches. With a wonderful World War One collection containing contributions from local families, including mementos and personal items, the museum tells the touching tale of New Zealand's contributions and losses in the war effort. It also touches upon the local mining industry and the plight of Chinese mining immigrants, with stories and videos. As a memento of your visit, stop off at the Old Fashioned Photo Studio to dress up in 19th century costumes and have a photo taken, or try your luck at mining for gold.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Though attached to the museum, the photo studio is not an official affiliate. It keeps different hours and may not be open during your visit. Call ahead for an accurate timetable.
    • To mine for gold, you must rent a gold pan, and visitors are invited to try out the trade at the nearby Arrow River. It is not unheard of to find something shiny while sifting!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 19 things to do in Arrowtown
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Good place for a pit stop 04/09/2018
    • So worth a visit 02/08/2018
    • Lakes District Museum & Art Gallery
    Address:
    49 Buckingham Street
    Arrowtown 9302
    New Zealand
    Phone:
    +64 3-442 1824
    Price range:
    US$5 - US$5
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    08:30 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Queenstown Arts Centre
    Art Galleries
    Madison S Says:

    View the local artists on display and get hands-on down at the Queenstown Arts Centre. Exhibiting local New Zealand artists, the volunteer-run center contains live studios as well as a gallery of art, textiles, and crafts for sale, making it a charming spot to stop and visit, as you are able to actually interact with some of the artists and watch them create. Additionally, Queenstown Arts Centre puts on a number of painting and handicraft workshops for children and adults alike, so you can jump in and participate in making something memorable.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Hidden Gems
    Tips
    • The center is open from 10am to 4pm, but may close briefly around midday for a staff lunch break.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #97 of 136 things to do in Queenstown
    • Arts 20/04/2018
    • The best of local artists 30/01/2018
    • Queenstown Arts Centre
    Address:
    49 Stanley Street
    Queenstown 9300
    New Zealand
    Phone:
    +64 3-442 7782
    Other:
  • Save
    Kiwi Birdlife Park
    Nature & Wildlife Areas
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    At the Kiwi Birdlife Park, over five acres are dedicated to local flora and fauna. The stars of the show, the Kiwi birds, live in a nocturnal enclosure in the park so that visitors can see them at their most lively and active. In addition to the Kiwi, the park has a number of other aviary animals and offers a live Kiwi feeding and conservation show. With an audio tour that expertly guides you through the park's plant and animal life, and with a portion of proceeds going to conservation (the park releases its Kiwis to the wild after bringing them up), this is not to be missed for nature lovers.

    Good for
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The park is a bit pricey. A family pass (up to 2 adults, 3 kids) may be a better option for some.
    • As Kiwis are nocturnal, no photography is allowed in their enclosure.
    • Kiwi feedings take place daily at the following times: 10am, 12pm, 1:30pm, and 4.30pm.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #25 of 136 things to do in Queenstown
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Fascinating array of birds 17/09/2018
    • Get your Kiwi fix! 13/09/2018
    • Kiwi Birdlife Park
    Address:
    Brecon St
    Queenstown
    New Zealand
    Phone:
    +64 3-442 8059
    Price range:
    US$21 - US$21
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Save
    The Winery
    Wine Tours & Tastings , Wine Bars
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    Though not strictly a museum, The Winery is not your typical wine stop, functioning as an exhibition of the area's finest drinks. Queenstown and the South Island regions are known for their wonderful local wineries and area blends, and while you may not be able to visit every vineyard, here you can take your palette on an exploratory adventure, where over 80 varieties are on tap. Arranged from dry to sweet, and with a self-service system of inexpensive one-ounce glasses that allow you to sample and experience as you please, you can learn while you drink at The Winery.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    Tips
    • Some tasters are a bit more expensive, some less.
    • You can book tours to some of the local wineries from here. Ask on your visit if you are particularly taken with one of the regional bottles.
    • The staff are knowledgeable and happy to tell you about the local estates and the flavor components of each wine.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 15 Nightlife in Queenstown
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Lovely 18/08/2018
    • Great little Queenstown secret 13/07/2018
    • The Winery
    Address:
    14 Beach Street
    Queenstown 9300
    New Zealand
    Phone:
    +64 3-409 2226
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:30 - 22:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Real Journeys - TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship Cruises
    Boat Tours
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    The Walter Peak High Country Farm combines an informative farmhouse experience with a petting zoo, making it fascinating for visitors of all ages. You reach the farm via a ride on an old 1912 steamer ship, the TSS Earnslaw, where you can explore the workings of a classical engine and sift through traditional folk singalong songs by the onboard piano. After arriving at Walter Peak, there's an immediate opportunity to feed, touch, and interact with sheep, cattle, and deer; but the highlight of a trip here is learning all about the local sheep trade — from how to shear in a live demonstration, to training sheep dogs to herd flocks. Informative, different, and hands-on.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Two dining options are available for guests, an afternoon tea with scones and cake for smaller groups, or a BBQ buffet for larger ones. Either is purely optional.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #16 of 47 Boat Tours & Water Sports in Queenstown
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Amazing visit 18/09/2018
    • Awesome 16/09/2018
    • Real Journeys - TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship Cruises
    Address:
    88 Beach Street
    Real Journeys Visitor Centre, Steamer Wharf
    Queenstown 9300
    New Zealand
    Phone:
    +64 3-442 7500
    Other:
  • Save
    Ivan Clarke Gallery
    Art Galleries
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    The Ivan Clarke Gallery exhibits paintings and sculptures by the prominent artist for which it is named. With vibrant landscapes tracing out the forests and mountains of New Zealand, his dramatic and rustic pieces sit alongside his more whimsical and adorable works — mainly featuring dogs at play. Known worldwide for his depictions of animals dealing at poker tables and jamming on the guitar in the 'Lonely Dogs' series of work, there is an undeniable charm and fun to his pieces that make this tiny gallery more than worth a stop.

    Good for
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The gallery opens at 10am daily.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #45 of 136 things to do in Queenstown
    • Shut up and take my money!! 05/09/2018
    • Ivan Clarke, you're the man !! 21/05/2018
    • Ivan Clarke Gallery
    Address:
    35 Camp St
    Queenstown
    New Zealand
    Phone:
    +64 3-442 5232
    Other:
  • Save
    Pure Glenorchy Scenic Lord of the Rings Tours
    4WD, ATV & Off-Road Tours, Film & TV Tours, Private Tours, Sightseeing Tours, Photography Tours
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    Like a living museum, rather than looking at artifacts under glass, go and see the real life locations that were used in the filming of Lord of the Rings on a Pure Glenorchy Scenic Tour. Including what became the lands of Orthanc, Lothlorian, the Dead Marshes and more in the major motion pictures, Glenorchy guides use photos and detailed explanations to put you in the frames of the film and bring the landscape to life before your eyes. The stories included on the journey make it informative and enlightening, and even the hardcore Lord of the Rings fan is sure to learn something new. An interactive journey!

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Suitable for non-Lord of the Rings fans too, who just want to enjoy a nature hike and tour, and are less interested in the information and set stories.
    • The tour takes four hours in total.
    • A small lunchtime snack of sandwiches and cookies is provided by the team halfway through the tour.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #21 of 158 Outdoor Activities in Queenstown
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Best of fun 15/09/2018
    • Great LOTR tour! 09/09/2018
    • Pure Glenorchy Scenic Lord of the Rings Tours
    Address:
    8b Kiely Lane
    Mt Creighton
    Queenstown 9300
    New Zealand
    Phone:
    +64 3-441 1079
    Price range:
    US$74 - US$74
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    07:30 - 20:30
    Other:
  • Save
    Queenstown Underwater Observatory
    Aquariums
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    Though rather small, the Underwater World Aquarium is always a big hit with the kids, who enjoy feeding the ducks, fish, and eels at this venue. The four large viewing windows allow for relaxed observation of the many fish, and give a bird's eye view of the ducks as they make impressive deep dives for food.

    Good for
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Buy food on site to feed the fish and ducks.
    • Entry is free with a Jetboat ticket and some local cruises. Be aware that the aquarium is small, and single entry expensive, so a combination ticket may be the best value.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #99 of 136 things to do in Queenstown
    • Felt scammed waste of money and time 10/09/2018
    • Best 10 Bucks! 05/09/2018
    • Queenstown Underwater Observatory
    Address:
    Rees St
    Marine Parade
    Queenstown 9348
    New Zealand
    Phone:
    +64 3-442 8538
    Price range:
    US$5 - US$5
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    08:30 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Save
    Arrowtown Chinese Settlement
    Historic Sites, Hiking Trails
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    At the Arrowtown Chinese Settlement, learn about the strenuous history of Chinese gold miners in nearby Arrowtown. Visit the small hut homes that miners lived in, each containing information on the individuals who once resided there, and the close-knit, supportive community these families created. On the whole, the huts tell the history of these brave settlers, why they came to New Zealand, what life was like for them, the many difficulties they faced, and the effects that opium had on the small community. A significant piece of the Queenstown area's history.

    Good for
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • It is free to visit the Arrowtown Chinese Settlement.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 19 things to do in Arrowtown
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Insight into early Chinese settlers 27/08/2018
    • Historic miner's settlement based in scenic surroundings 18/08/2018
    • Arrowtown Chinese Settlement
    Address:
    Buckingham Street
    Arrowtown
    New Zealand
    Phone:
    +64 3-442 7935
    Other:
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