The Best Road Trip Itineraries from Queenstown

Road trips from Queenstown guide bannner

Queenstown is one of the most visited tourist destinations in New Zealand because there is no shortage of activities and places to see in this region. Oftentimes people rent a car when they visit this beautiful South Island town so they can easily explore the area. If you are having a difficult time planning a self-drive tour, check out VroomVroomVroom's list of the best road trip itineraries in Queenstown below.


Autumn leaves at reflection Lake Hayes, NZ

This lovely town is just a short drive away from Queenstown and attracts tourists every autumn season because of its colourful fall foilage and annual Akarua Arrowtown Autumn Festival.

Travel Time: 21 minutes

Directions: The quickest route to Arrowtown from Queenstown is via Malanghas Road. You can also take the State Highway 6A, State Highway 6 and Arrowtown-Lake Hayes Road route.


  • Lake District Museum & Gallery: Learn more about the history and culture of Arrowntown in this small museum. There are also artworks and authentic pictures of early Maori life exhibited in this museum.  
  • Lake Hayes: Park your car and head to Lake Hayes Walkway where you can appreciate the beauty of the mountain views. The easy loop walk takes around 2-3 hours.
  • Coronet Peak: Experience the roller coaster terrain at this massive ski area. You can also try their night skiing every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights.  


Scenic road to Glenorchy, NZ

Known as the gateway to the Middle-earth magic, Glenorchy is one of the most popular road trip destinations in Queenstown. It continues to attract hikers and movie buffs because of its amazing landscapes that were featured in The Lord of the Rings and Narnia.

Travel Time: 48 minutes

Directions: Drive from Ballarat Street towards State Highway 6A then turn right going to Beach Street. From there, continue onto Lake Esplanade then take the first exit at the roundabout onto Glenorchy-Queenstown Road.


  • Routeburn Track: Feed your soul and take a walk with a guided half day or full day walk from Glenorchy Journeys. Witness some of the most stunning landscapes during your tour.
  • Dart River: If you are not fond of long walks, you can go horseback riding instead. Dart Stables offers more than 60 breeds of horses to choose from and a knowledgeable team of guides.
  • Skydive Southern Alps: Thrill-seekers shouldn't miss the opportunity to go tandem skydiving amidst a majestic mountain backdrop.


Pink flowers blooming in Lake Wanaka

For the ultimate outdoor adventure, visit Wanaka which is considered by many as nature's playground because of the endless things one can do here. This place is perfect for budget-conscious travellers because the rates of the activities here are cheaper than those in Queenstown.

Travel Time: 1 hour and 7 minutes

Directions: The fastest route to Wanaka from Queenstown is via Crown Range Road and Cardrona Valley. You can also a reroute to Malaghans Road and McDonnell Road before turning left onto State Highway 6 and Crown Range Road.


  • Lake Wanaka: The perfect place to enjoy water sports such as jet-skiing, kayaking, paddle boarding and boating
  • Mt. Aspiring National Park: Located on the Southern Alps of the South Island, this park is known as a walker's paradise. It is an ideal base to go hiking and mountain biking.
  • Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds: Experience fun winter activities such as ice driving, husky sled dog rides and snowshoeing in this unique location.

Milford Sound

Man kayaking in Milford Sound

Once named as the “8th Wonder of the World”, Milford Sound is a must-see when travelling to South Island. It takes almost three hours to reach this famous fiord but its lush rainforests and spectacular waterfalls are worth the long drive.

Travel Time: 3 hours and 45 minutes

Directions: Head northeast on Ballarat Street towards State Highway 6A. Follow State Highway 6 to New Zealand State Highway 94 in Milford Sound.


  • Milford Sound Kayaking: Be amazed by the beautiful sights that you will encounter while kayaking including the Mitre Peak and Pembroke Glacier.
  • Milford Sound Walks: Enjoy the numerous walking and tramping tracks in the area, including the Key Summit Track which takes around 3 hours to reach the summit.
  • Milford Sound Discovery Centre and Underwater Observatory: Get up close with different underwater species and learn about the history of Milford Sound in this centre.

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