to Stay in Queenstown
Lots of Choices for all Budgets and
Queenstown is New
Zealand's 'tourist mecca' with up to 60,000 visitors every
So, for sure, there are
plenty of places to choose from when deciding where to stay.
of a series on travel to and in New Zealand -
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Because there's way more to see
and do in Queenstown than you could possibly do in a day (or two
or three) you'll almost certainly be spending several nights in
Fortunately it is a small town,
and with reasonably priced accommodation. You can enjoy
comfortable convenient stays at amazingly moderate prices, while
still being within walking distance of the central downtown area.
The town of Queenstown has moderately clear borders/boundaries,
but some accommodation operators get a bit imaginative when
describing themselves as being in Queenstown when in truth
These days, with the pervasive nature of many different
brilliantly simple to use mapping programs, you should check
every property's location against a map to see exactly where it
In the case of Queenstown, you should have no problems finding
good accommodation within half a mile of the city center - in
other words, within about a 15 minute walk.
But note that Queenstown is nestled on the foothills around the
shores of Lake Wakatipu, so if you're wanting to avoid some
uphill walking, it would be helpful to open up Google Maps and
then zoom in to the Queenstown area and trace around the streets
with the cursor and keep an eye on the reported elevation
changes as you do so. Remember that, as a rule of thumb,
each extra 10 ft of height is the same as another floor in a
building, or about 15 steps.
The city center can be considered as perhaps the Queenstown Mall
(sometimes called either Mall St or Ballarat St on maps).
Downtown parking can sometimes be problematic which is why we
like to be able to walk downtown, but there is certainly no
reason not to consider staying a bit further out and driving in
and out of the downtown area whenever you might wish to do so.
Some of the day touring activities also include pickup/dropoff
at many major hotels locations, sparing you the need to even
drive downtown (and/or the need to have a rental car at all).
If you're not staying in Queenstown itself, you might be running
the 'risk' of staying in the Frankton area, close to the
airport, which we don't recommend, even though there's a
perfectly nice Hilton there. It just isn't a very
Further afield are some specialty accommodation choices more or
less otherwise in the countryside, some farm stays and country
B&Bs, and some boutique accommodation in the lovely little town
There is nowhere else to consider staying within about 30 miles
There are two things that you'd ideally want to be able to see
out the windows of wherever you're staying. The lake and
The lake is a lovely sight, of course, enlivened by the old
vintage steamer sedately plying to and fro on her several daily
cruises, the fast catamaran rushing in and out, and the jetboats
roaring around in a huge flurry of showy spray and foam.
The mountains are gorgeous beyond compare, and outside of the
summer months, they have a dusting of snow coming down a varying
amount to that magic point where it suddenly seems to sharply
Queenstown is all about its amazingly beautiful setting, so we'd
certainly not criticize if you decided to spend a bit more money
to get a 'room with a view'. A room with a view and a
verandah (balcony) would be even better, so you could relax and
enjoy the fresh air and beauty surrounding you while comfortably
Note that most places offering lake views will also have views
over to the mountains, so you're sort of getting two views for
the price of one.
If you want to treat yourself to something memorably better than
a generic franchise boxy hotel, there are certainly
opportunities to do this, although they tend to be located out
of downtown Queenstown.
There is one notable exception to this -
very close to downtown.
If you are willing to travel a way out of town, then the
Blanket Bay Lodge is
perhaps the ne plus ultra of your choices. It is
near the northern end of the lake, and about 45 minutes of
narrow winding road away from Queenstown.
We're told that some guests choose to fly or helicopter to and
from the lodge. Actually, it is a beautiful drive, once,
but becomes tiresome if commuting regularly. However, if
you go to Blanket Bay, you'll probably stay there and not leave
(other than perhaps to do a Dart River outing, or some other
touring up there in the Glenorchy area) so the road isn't as
much an issue as you might think.
Much closer in is another lovely property,
Note that this list of three examples is indicative rather than
exhaustive. Many other places also exist, although - as
always - beware of TripAdvisor. We've seen some 'trailer
park' type accommodation described as luxury resorts on
Good Value Good Location Hotels
Much as we'd like to be staying at the three featured properties
in the previous section, we're usually staying in more
moderately priced places such as mentioned here, or below in the
One of the best bargains in Queenstown, almost every time we do
the exercise and check, is
Resort. It is very close to downtown, just on the
other side of the road from the lake, has plenty of hotel
services and amenities, and most rooms have wonderful lake and
mountain views and balconies.
Best of all, it is usually available at a very attractive rate.
The other property that usually features highly in our searches
Novotel Queenstown Lakeside. This is even closer in to
the center of the town, and probably of a slightly higher
standard, but not all rooms have as good a view as at the Rydges,
and the prices are higher.
We really like staying in New Zealand motels. A motel in
NZ is very different to what people think of as a motel in the
US. In NZ, it means a spacious suite/studio or possibly 1
or more bedroom apartment, with some kitchen/cooking
capabilities as well as comfortable seating, dining table and
chairs, and sleeping/bathroom facilities.
Motels are usually small businesses and with only 5 - 15 units,
and often family owned and operated, with free parking in front
of each unit. They might also have laundry and playground
and other amenities on the site. Prices are reasonable,
and we love the ability to spread out a bit, and to do some of
our own cooking.
Motels in New Zealand participate in a 'Qualmark' rating
program, and while there's not a direct correlation between the
number of stars a motel gets (typically 3½, 4, 4½
or 5 stars) it is generally fair to say that the more stars, the
better the experience will be.
However, we've been happy in 3½ star motels (and
sometimes unhappy in 4½ motels!) so don't get obsessed by
the star rating of a motel. Simply choose one that is in a
convenient location, which looks nice, and with good rates.
There are about 100 motels in the Queenstown area. Lots to
choose from. We don't single out any for special mention
because they're all very similar to each other.
See also our comment below about inclusions and extras.
Inclusions and Extras
The advertised price for a hotel or motel should be the actual
price you pay, without any hidden extras subsequently appearing.
New Zealand does have a Goods and Services tax (GST) but it is
customary for this to e included in the advertised price of
accommodation (and almost everything else). If you find
yourself considering anything where there's small print advising
that GST is extra, we urge you to refuse to have anything more
to do with the product and its provider; they're trying to
'cheat' the system.
It is very rare for parking to be an extra charge other than in
big city hotels, and we've not yet seen a hotel in NZ that
charges an odious 'resort fee'.
Like everywhere in the world, sometimes you can find a rate that
includes breakfast or other things. Rates that include
breakfast are often a good deal, rates which include other
things are seldom a good deal.
One point on which there is no standard approach is internet.
To be fair to NZ hoteliers, internet service is more expensive
in NZ than it is in the US, and it is normal for internet
service to have a limit on how much data can be downloaded - if
you go over the limit, you start to pay appreciably more.
Assuming that you'll want internet access while traveling, you
need to carefully check to see what each property's policy is on
internet. Some will be free and allow unlimited access,
others will charge a fee which may be with a limit on how much
data you use, too.
Where and How to Book Queenstown Accommodation
All the major hotels and many of the smaller hotels and motels
can be booked through the usual major OTA websites such as
Expedia, and because increasingly hotels have a 'minimum
advertised price' policy there's little or no difference in
price between the various different websites.
Other places to possibly find NZ motels would be the
Queenstown tourism website, the
NZ Automobile Association website, and the
website. None have a fully definitive list,
unfortunately, because, as we understand it, all charge money to
motels to be listed.
Wotif.com has an interesting
display of sometimes discounted rates, but it is also
amusing/puzzling to see properties showing nightly rates
sometimes well over their stated maximum full rates.
What's up with that?
If I am booking a multi-night stay, I'll typically telephone
directly to the motel and ask if they can offer a special deal
or discount, or at least include internet for free, or whatever
else might be on offer. Perhaps half the time, that
results in some sort of discount being offered.
One thing to be careful about. Be sure to understand if
the price you are being quoted is in New Zealand dollars or your
local currency (perhaps US dollars). Don't assume.
Even some NZ based websites will detect where you are visiting
their website from and will automatically convert the rate into
your local currency.
For more information
Click the links in the top
right of this page for additional helpful information about
travel to and in New Zealand.
In particular, please note our
pages on what to do in Queenstown and
about jet boating in Queenstown.
Related Articles, etc
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24 Jan 2014, last update
21 Jul 2020