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If you're traveling to New Zealand, you are almost certainly going to include time in Queenstown as part of your visit.

You have a lot of different accommodation choices for where to stay, this article explains some of them.

 
 
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Where to Stay in Queenstown

Lots of Choices for all Budgets and Styles
 

Queenstown is New Zealand's 'tourist mecca' with up to 60,000 visitors every day.

So, for sure, there are plenty of places to choose from when deciding where to stay.

Part of a series on travel to and in New Zealand - click the links in the right hand column for more articles.

 

 

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 the town.

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.

Location Issues

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 they're not.

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 is.

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 appealing area.

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 of Arrowtown.

There is nowhere else to consider staying within about 30 miles of Queenstown.

Views

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 mountains.

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 stop.

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 seated outside.

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.

Up-Market Treats

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 - Peppers Beacon, 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, Matakauri Lodge.

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 TripAdvisor.

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 motel section.

One of the best bargains in Queenstown, almost every time we do the exercise and check, is Rydges Lakeland 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 is the 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.

Motels

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 national tourism 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.
 

If so, please donate to keep the website free and fund the addition of more articles like this. Any help is most appreciated - simply click below to securely send a contribution through a credit card and Paypal.

 

Originally published 24 Jan 2014, last update 08 Jul 2017

 
 
 
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