Things to do in
Central Otago

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Our most recommended things to do in Central Otago

Shotover River: Extreme Jet Boat Experience

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.

Queenstown: Lake Whakatipu Boat Trip

Queenstown: Lake Whakatipu Boat Trip

Aboard the Queenstown Lake Cruise, you will discover mountains, forests, and hidden coves as our skipper shares tales of the lake's history. Admire Bob's Cove, Mt Earnslaw and the Southern Alps during our 1 hour and 30-minute cruise. Whether with family, friends, or a special someone, join us to uncover Queenstown's natural beauty. Relax onboard with our café and licenced bar, serving hot and cold beverages. We're proud to showcase Lake Whakatipu's secrets and leave you with cherished memories of Queenstown's landscapes.

From Christchurch: Mt Cook Day Tour via Lake Tekapo w/ Lunch

From Christchurch: Mt Cook Day Tour via Lake Tekapo w/ Lunch

Itinerary Christchurch - We start by leaving Garden City/Christchurch and heading south towards our destination, while our knowledgeable driver points out some of the Garden City’s highlights. Canterbury Plains - Wrapped around Christchurch are the Canterbury Plains filled with farmland as far as the eye can see. Most types of farming you can think of will be found on the plains such as crops, vineyards, dairy and livestock production. Fairlie Bakehouse (10mins) - A Classic New Zealand farming town hidden away in Mackenzie. Fairlie goes through some stunning colour changes especially come Autum, this is truly one of the best locations to sit and relax with one of their world-famous meat Pies from the Bakehouse. And this stop is also where we will pick up your lunch to keep you full of energy for the rest of the day. Lake Tekapo/ Church of the Good Shepherd (15mins) – An alpine lake region like no other in the heart of Mackenzie. At the right time of year, you will find clusters of wild lupins along the lake edge. Once we arrive in Tekapo we head towards the most popular photo spots in the country The Church of The Good Shepard for those social media worthy pictures. Lake Pukaki (10mins) - This glacier fed lake is unique compared to its alpine partners. The colours can change from ice blue to a dark deep blue depending on the weather conditions. On a clear day enjoy undisturbed views right up to Mt Cook which appears to extend out of the head of the lake. Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park (2.5hrs) – AND HERE WE ARE! Named after the famous explorer James Cook, Aoraki/Mt Cook is New Zealand’s highest peak. Once here you will have the choice to embark on either The Hooker Valley or The Tasman Glacier walk. If a flight overlooking the mountains is more your thing, we are happy to arrange Helicopter rides for you and the family to enjoy instead. • Hooker Valley (2.5-3hrs) The Hooker valley track is one of the highest rated day walks in New Zealand. It’s not hard to see why as you walk alongside an ice-covered cliff face (Listen carefully you may hear it moving) all the way to an ice filled lake with Mt Cook at its end. • Tasman Glacier (2.5 – 3hrs) This track leads through the glacier’s old terminal moraines, and there you will find amazing views of the glacier, river, and lake. • Mt Cook Information Centre (DOC) – You are more than welcome to take it all in by spending the day in the information centre with a coffee. Learn the history of the national park, ask questions and just be in moment. At 2:30 our driver will collect you from your chosen destinations for the day to head back home. Lake Tekapo (10mins) -We stop briefly in Lake Tekapo for one last time to take those last minute late evening photos of the Church and the Lake. Christchurch – After what has been a simply beautiful day, we will head back to the Garden City. Its bittersweet as you’ll be exhausted but filled with new memories.

From Queenstown: Mount Cook and Hooker Valley Day Trip

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.

Queenstown: Half-Day 4WD Lord Of the Rings Discovery Tour

Queenstown: Half-Day 4WD Lord Of the Rings Discovery Tour

Embark on an adventure safari packed with breathtaking scenery, thrilling 4WD action, and LOTR filming locations. Visit the filming locations of Minas Tirith, Misty Mountains, the Pillars of the Kings (Argonath), Gladden Fields, the Ford of Bruinen, and more.  After pick-up from your hotel, journey around the Wakatipu Basin to see The Remarkables, which were used as various mountains throughout the three movies. Travel part way up Queenstown Hill for a bird's-eye view onto Deer Park Heights, which was used for the refugees of Rohan and the Battle of the Wargs scenes. From the viewpoint, head to Kawarau Gorge where the filming took place for the Argonath - 'Pillars of the Kings'. After Kawarau Gorge, travel to Arrowtown where the loss of The One Ring scene at Gladden Fields was shot. Near Arrowtown, you will experience a true off-road adventure. Following a historic gold mining road up the Arrow River, cross the river many times to get to the Ford of Bruinen. Here you can indulge in a refreshing afternoon tea and try your hand at a spot of gold panning. From Arrowtown, travel to the entrance of Skippers Canyon for spectacular panoramic views of the Wakatipu Basin and into the Canyon. Please read Disclosure of Risks and Weather Cancellation Policy here https://www.nomadsafaris.co.nz/faqs/

From Queenstown: Mount Cook Small Group Adventure

From Queenstown: Mount Cook Small Group Adventure

At 3724m, Aoraki/Mt Cook is by no means among the world’s tallest but with the nearby Mt Cook village just 750m above sea-level, the mountain can be viewed without any acclimatization whatsoever, and so this tour is perfect for people of all levels of fitness. The guided tour begins with pickups in Queenstown and Frankton, before you then travel through the stunning Kawarau gorge to Cromwell. After making a comfort stop in the quaint township of Omarama (where you have the option to taste one of the best creamy chicken pies in New Zealand), you climb your way through Lindis Pass, one of only 3 alpine roads through the otherwise impassable Southern Alps. As you exit the Pass, you may catch glimpses of the mighty mountain itself; but before arriving there is much more to see, including what many consider one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Lake Pukaki is one of the bluest lakes you will ever see, and is framed by the backdrop of Aoraki and its brothers in the Southern Alps. The location of several scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Lake Pukaki is a destination in and of itself. You soon pass the delta where the mountain’s various rivers, creeks and streams converge to form the lake, and the mountain continues to grow steadily in stature and grandeur until the shear scale of the view makes you feel powerless. Arriving at the alpine village of Mt Cook and the Hermitage - home of the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre - you now have the freedom to explore in whatever way suits your energy levels and budget. Please select the activity you would like to include during the booking process, which are at an additional charge.

From Queenstown: Lord Of The Rings Tour to Glenorchy

From Queenstown: Lord Of The Rings Tour to Glenorchy

Enjoy a small-group tour of the most iconic Lord of the Rings filming locations in New Zealand, specially designed for fans of the films. Within minutes of leaving Queenstown, reach the Glenorchy Road, which follows the edges of the Great Lake Wakatipu, and has been voted  one of the top 10 drives in the world. Admire snowcapped mountains that arise around every corner of the journey. Your first stop will be the 12 Mile Delta. Here, enjoy a short nature walk over the 12 Mile canyon footbridge and spot trout and salmon in the crystal-clear water below. Learn about the local flora and fauna and visit the locations, where scenes from the films were shot. Continuing on towards Glenorchy, stopping briefly for views to Bennetts bluff, then the Historic wharf & famous red shed. Adventure further into the World Heritage Mt. Aspiring National Park, home of Lothlorien Forest, where you will have the opportunity to snap some photographs dressed as your favourite Lord of the Rings character with replica swords from the trilogy. Next, head up the Dart Valley through "Paradise" to Isengard for some time to enjoy this amazing location in this spectacular glacier-carved valley. Stories and behind-the-scenes secrets will be shared by your passionate local guides on the way back to Queenstown. Included is a light morning or afternoon tea, with hot tea & coffee, cakes and biscuits.

From Queenstown: 3 Winery Tour with Gourmet Wine & Lunch

From Queenstown: 3 Winery Tour with Gourmet Wine & 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 a main meal perfectly matched with a glass of estate wine. Indulge in hosted wine tastings and presentations at 3 wineries. The wineries we choose to visit provide you with a great perspective of the types of wine we make in the region. Our knowledgeable guides will provide you with an insight into our Central Otago wine industry as well as entertain you with great commentary and a bit of fun too!

Queenstown: Mount Cook Premium Guided Day Tour

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 on the famous Hooker Valley Track, or experience the incredible activities on offer at Mount Cook including Tasman Glacier Heli Hikes, scenic flights, or the Glacier Explorer boat tour. Included in this tour is complimentary access to the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre. That afternoon rejoin your guide and van to commence the return journey to Queenstown. Sit back, relax, and take in the views. This day tour spans approximately 12 hours, and our smaller vehicles and attentive guide ensure your comfort and entertainment throughout the journey.

From Christchurch: Guided Day Trip to Queenstown Via Mt Cook

From Christchurch: Guided Day Trip to Queenstown Via Mt Cook

Embark on a road trip from Christchurch and Queenstown, driving past blue lakes, rolling countryside, and pretty towns, all with the majestic Southern Alps in the background. Stop in Mt Cook, the perfect base to explore the natural wonders of Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. Leave Christchurch and head south towards your destination, as your driver points out some of the Garden City’s highlights. Make your first stop of the day in Fairlie. Grab a coffee and try one of the best pies in New Zealand. After refueling for the next part of our journey, leave Fairle and head toward Lake Tekapo. Visit the Church of the Good Shepherd on the stunning lakefront to take photos. Then, turn west and enter the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, with Lake Pukaki revealing all its beauty before your eyes. At the National Park, enjoy 2.5 hours of free time to indulge in local activities. Go on a hike or book optional extras such as a scenic flight. After leaving Mt Cook, stop at High Country Salmon – a local salmon farm where you can feed the fish and taste some of the freshest salmon in New Zealand. Finally, be driven to your final destination of Queenstown.

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What people are saying about Central Otago

Overall rating

4.8
(714 reviews)

The trip was amazing throughout, drive was long but the driver (I think his name was Will) had some awesome facts to tell us was very informative and the way he approached it also showed his genuine interest and enthusiasm about the geographical and historical context, although a cloudy day he made sure to get us a nice view and even changed up the stops for the better so we could get better photos and see more. The food was really good glad it was fresh and from a local bakery, the amount of stops was great toilet and food breaks spaced out well. We travelled through to Queenstown this means we had to get on another bus with the driver as cam, he was just as great energy and enthusiasm was high, he made the trip more enjoyable due to his passion for the outdoors and travel, we got back in a timely fashion and driving was safe and fantastic. The only thing I can critique about the trip was due to the lack of time we didn't get to see much on the way to Queenstown, however most people o

This was a first for me. I was dreading this activity and in the end everything went very well. The reception staff and pilot were professional and friendly.

We had a very friendly and great tour guide Reyne, it was overall an enjoyable trip. Highly recommended to visit Mt Cook.

Joe our driver was excellent and the adventure was well worth doing

Excellent drive & guid Thanks for giving me perfect experience 😍😍