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How to Get Great Value in Queenstown

I know what you are thinking, how can anything be as cheap as chips in New Zealand's most popular visitor destination, the playground of the rich and famous? Well, you may be surprised!

Queenstown Trails
Just one of the suspension bridges on the Queenstown
Trails, Photo by Carolyn Cossey

Firstly, the Queenstown Trails are 120 kilometres of meticulously presented walking and cycling trails, linking Queenstown, Arrowtown and the Gibbston Valley. The trails are free to use, and can provide hours or even days of exploration. Hiring a bike is going to add significant cost, but the trails can be broken down into easily walked sections, which will cost you nothing. An ideal walk to start with, is the circuit of Lake Hayes. This is an achievable eight kilometres around New Zealand's most photographed lake, taking in water and mountain views, while following a wooden boardwalk, and passing historic cottages. A handy tip: the walk is easier if you walk in an anticlockwise direction.

In historic Arrowtown, the Lakes District Museum and Art Gallery is one of New Zealand's leading small museums. It has a hands-on focus, with working displays giving authentic portrayals of pre-colonial Maori life, the pioneers, and the gold-rush days. It costs just $8 for an adult, and $2 for a child. At the end of your tour of the museum, hire a gold pan for just $3, and try your hand at panning for gold in the Arrow River. That $3 covers the use of the pan for an hour, or all day if you wish.

You can park your rental car all day for free at the riverside carpark at Arrowtown, a handy base for gold panning or picnicking.

Gibbston Valley Winer
The surreal wine cave at Gibbston Valley Winery,
Photo by Carolyn Cossey

Visiting wineries, and cellar-door tastings are perceived to be expensive pastimes. However, many of the wineries in the Gibbston Valley will only charge a nominal fee to taste a small selection of wines. By paying the tasting charge, you may feel more comfortable, and less obliged to splurge on buying bottles to take away… although the wines are so divine, you will require willpower. A great value experience, for just $15 per person is to tour the unique wine cave at Gibbston Valley wines. You will learn a lot from Gibbston's knowledgeable guides, and be able to taste three wines, straight from the barrels.

Make the most of your rental car by taking one of the world's most scenic drives, from Queenstown to Glenorchy. This 45 minute drive follows the edge of Lake Wakatipu, and will take you deep into the heart of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie locations.

You don't have to have pockets lined with gold to enjoy Queenstown after all!