Things to do in Otago

Our most recommended things to do in Otago

From Queenstown: Lake Wakatipu TSS Earnslaw Cruise

1. From Queenstown: Lake Wakatipu TSS Earnslaw Cruise

Join the TSS Earnslaw for a cruise across Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown. Admire spectacular alpine scenery and enjoy plenty of time to explore a piece of living history. Listen to engaging commentary from your experienced captain who will highlight points of interest throughout your cruise. Make your way to Steamer Wharf at Queenstown’s waterfront. Climb aboard the oldest working coal-fired passenger steamship in the southern hemisphere and feel free to explore. View the collection of historical photos in the small onboard museum and check out the skipper’s wheelhouse. Visit the engine room to feel the heat of the giant steam engines at work and see the stokers shovel coal into the glowing fireboxes. Soak in the dramatic mountain views surrounding Lake Wakatipu and relax at the cafe where you can enjoy a wine or beer and snacks are also available for purchase. 

Milford Sound: Boutique Small-Boat Cruise

2. Milford Sound: Boutique Small-Boat Cruise

Your cruise will begin at one of the most scenic points of the journey. You can take in the magnificent view of Mitre Peak (New Zealand's most photographed mountain) and the Sinbad Gully. This place is home to the Kakapo (world's heaviest flightless parrot), which was once thought to be extinct but was rediscovered in 1948. From there you will cruise past seal colonies and feel the spray of the waterfall as you travel directly under the Fairy Falls. Once the cruise reaches the Tasman Sea, you will get to see the hidden entrance to the Milford Sound (which Captain Cook missed twice on his explorations). On your return journey, you will find yourself underneath an even bigger waterfall, the Sterling Falls. If you feel like a world-famous "glacial facial", don't miss the opportunity here to do so. Throughout your tour, nature guides will entertain you with local anecdotes, as well as offer extra information on the passing flora and fauna. They are also there to help you with taking photos and assist with any requirements you may have. Around November you will have the chance to spot the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin.

TSS Earnslaw: Queenstown Cruise & Walter Peak Gourmet BBQ

3. TSS Earnslaw: Queenstown Cruise & Walter Peak Gourmet BBQ

This half-day activity begins and concludes with a 45-minute cruise across Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu onboard the historic TSS Earnslaw. Spend a few hours enjoying the culinary delights at Walter Peak High Country Station, including an entertaining farm demonstration the whole family will enjoy. Feel free to take advantage of the extensive lay-out of this incredible steamship – she is a floating museum of her own history, and you are more than welcome to enter the engine room where you can watch our hardy coal-stokers as they keep this beautiful lady of the lake gliding across the waters of Lake Wakatipu. Overlooking Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown’s incredible alpine scenery, the Colonel’s Homestead at Walter Peak is the perfect place to spend a beautiful day in Central Otago. Its colonial architecture and sweeping grounds evoke the elegance of a bygone era. Spend your time wandering the award-winning gardens, or saying hello to the animals that call the station home. The BBQ Buffet includes salads, vegetables, and succulent local meats cooked on the outdoor rotisserie or grill. There is a wide range of desserts on offer, including a vast array of fresh bread and cheese. If you have any dietary restrictions, please let the supplier know directly so we can safely accommodate your requests.

Queenstown: Milford Sound Coach & Cruise Full-Day Trip

4. Queenstown: Milford Sound Coach & Cruise Full-Day Trip

Enjoy a fun and leisurely day trip to admire the glacial features, wild flora and fauna, and picturesque backdrops of the world-famous fiord at Milford Sound. Start with pickup for the bus journey to Te Anau. Your driver will share their local knowledge as you stop along the way to see spectacular scenery. Marvel at views of waterfalls, wildlife, and the rainforest. Soak up the sights from any of the three indoor and outdoor viewing decks during your cruise and join your jovial crew at the bow as you nose under Stirling Falls for a free shower in some of the world's freshest water.  Benefit from complimentary tea service is available for the entire cruise and espresso coffee, snacks cakes. Additional drinks can be purchased from "Off The Rocks" onboard bar.

Queenstown: Scenic Lake Cruise and Walter Peak Farm Tour

5. Queenstown: Scenic Lake Cruise and Walter Peak Farm Tour

Get a taste of New Zealand's farming lifestyle in an interactive way with this combo tour in Queenstown. Enjoy a relaxing boat ride across Lake Wakatipu. Disembark at a traditional farm for a comprehensive tour of its facilities and some morning or afternoon tea. Start with a scenic cruise, crossing Lake Wakatipu toward Walter Peak High Country Farm. Explore the decks, visit the steam room, or chat with the captain in the wheelhouse. Take advantage of the onboard cafe to purchase a drink or two. Arrive at Walter Peak and join the host for a farmyard tour. Get up close to sheep, deer, and highland cattle. Help feed the animals, watch a farm demonstration, and explore the lakeside gardens. Enjoy morning or afternoon tea, including delicious scones and muffins.

From Queenstown: Milford Sound Full-Day Trip by Plane & Boat

6. From Queenstown: Milford Sound Full-Day Trip by Plane & Boat

Combine a flight and a cruise on Milford Sound on this excursion from Queenstown. Take in the area's outstanding natural beauty as you savor the sights from both air and water. Enjoy a pickup and transfer to the air hanger in Queenstown. Listen to informative commentary in English and marvel at the stunning views of lakes, mountains, and waterfalls on the 40-minute flight. Upon landing, transfer to the Milford Sound Boat Terminal. Board in Milford Sound and experience 2 hours onboard an intimate vessel with English commentary by your skipper, and complimentary tea and coffee. Cruise to the mouth of the Tasman Sea, while enjoying views of waterfalls and marine life like fur seals, dolphins, and penguins. Next, board your scenic flight back to Queenstown. Take a different flight path from your outbound flight as you admire the spectacular views of Fiordland National Park. After the 40-minute journey back to Queenstown, enjoy complimentary transfer back to your accommodation.

From Queenstown: Milford Sound Full-Day Trip by Bus & Boat

7. From Queenstown: Milford Sound Full-Day Trip by Bus & Boat

Take the hassle out of driving to Milford Sound and join a guided coach tour from Queenstown. Sit back, relax and enjoy magnificent scenery and informative commentary. Your experienced local coach driver will show you the best views along the Milford Road and connect you seamlessly with a 2-hour nature cruise. Travel in a spacious coach with USB charging ports. Marvel at the native rainforest, spectacular waterfalls and glacial lakes. Pause briefly in Te Anau before continuing along the spectacular alpine Milford Road. Admire incredible views at Eglinton Valley, Mirror Lakes, Knobbs Flat or Monkey Creek and pose for photos. Be wowed by the glaciar-carved Milford Sound as you approach the visitor terminal. Seize your cruise and lunch passes from the driver who’ll help you find your cruise departure gate.  Climb aboard a purpose-built catamaran for a nature cruise along the fiord’s deep blue waters. Savor a freshly prepared picnic lunch. Marvel at the impressive natural landscape and keep a lookout for native wildlife like dolphins, seals and penguins. Be fascinated by live commentary from your skipper in the open wheelhouse. Get within touching distance of impressive glaciar-carved rock walls and feel the full force of the powerful 15,000-year-old Stirling Falls on your face. Awed and satisfied, rejoin your driver for the scenic return journey to Queenstown. 

Cardrona: Mountain Carting at Cardrona Alpine Resort

8. Cardrona: Mountain Carting at Cardrona Alpine Resort

Experience the brand-new adventure sport, mountain carting, aka New Zealand’s most accessible gravity-fuelled activity. The only one of their kind in New Zealand, these 3-wheeled gravity carts are all you need to take on the trails with no previous experience necessary. Take a leisurely roll or race your mates around sweeping bends before taking the chairlift back up to get another lap in. Get your heart racing in this fun-filled, downhill adrenaline activity for all ages and abilities. Sessions last for 2 hours with access to all 3 mountain cart tracks. Once you have worked up an appetite, why not head to the onsite bar to take your pick from the selection of craft beers and local wines as well as a bunch of hot and cold menu options including delicious wood-fired pizzas.

Milford Sound: Coach and Cruise Day Trip From Queenstown

9. Milford Sound: Coach and Cruise Day Trip From Queenstown

Travel to Milford Sound for an extended nature cruise on a day trip from Queenstown. Experience one of the most beautiful drives in the world in the comfort of a state-of-the-art coach. After meeting at a central location in Queenstown, you'll board the luxury coach and journey along the shores of Lake Wakatipu into rolling countryside through to Te Anau. Take a short break, then continue along the spectacular alpine route of the Milford Road. Enjoy photo stops and short walks along the way. Relax on an extended nature cruise of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea and admire the fiord’s wildlife, waterfalls and mountains along the way. A specialist nature guide will provide live informative commentary. You can also bring your own lunch or purchase snacks and drinks (cash only) on-board. Following the cruise, board the coach for your return journey to Queenstown that allows for bathroom breaks. Be dropped off back in Queenstown at around 7:45 PM.

Queenstown: Spirit of Queenstown Lake Wakatipu Scenic Cruise

10. 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.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Otago

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What people are saying about Otago

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 4,203 reviews

This experience exceeded all of my expectations. The cruise across the lake was enjoyable - I loved that we could explore the TSS Earnslaw. The lunch and farm experience were amazing - delicious food, friendly service and a beautiful location. I have already recommended it to family and friends.

Lovely boat trip and scenery was sensational. The homestead was just beautiful and we are still talking about the delicious food. Highly recommend

A wonderful experience and although it was raining the scenery was breathtaking with all the many waterfalls that were formed.

Loved this tour! Great full day tour packed with scenic stops and sights.

One of the best things we've ever done in Queenstown!