Where to stay in Queenstown for first time: 5 Safe areas

Finding where to stay in Queenstown as a first-timer can be a headache. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find safe places to stay in Queenstown for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safe areas to stay in Queenstown for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and things to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Queenstown and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Queenstown is a resort town in the Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand. It’s famous for its stunning alpine scenery, adventure sports, and outdoor activities. 

Located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the Southern Alps, Queenstown  is often considered one of the most beautiful destinations in the world.

Popular activities in Queenstown include skiing and snowboarding in the winter, hiking and mountain biking in the summer, bungee jumping, skydiving, jet boating, and exploring the nearby Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound. 

The town itself has a vibrant atmosphere with a range of restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops, catering to both adventure seekers and those seeking relaxation in the stunning surroundings.

Is Queenstown safe to visit?

Yes, Queenstown is overall a safe place to visit. The city has a low violent crime rate, car break-ins are common problems, so I recommend taking care of your belongings and avoiding leaving your valuables visible in a parked car.

Severe weather and natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis can happen, so it is advised to monitor local media and prepare yourself with emergency procedures in case of an earthquake, such as Drop, Cover, and Hold On.

When enjoying outdoor adventures, such as hiking, skiing, and water sports, it’s crucial to follow safety guidelines, use appropriate gear, check forecasts, and stick to marked trails.

Where to stay in Queenstown for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Queenstown for first-timers and tourists include Downtown, Frankton, Fernhill, Queenstown Hill & Arthurs Point, and Kelvin Heights. Regardless of where you stay, always remember to take standard safety precautions to have an enjoyable trip.

Downtown Queenstown is an ideal base for those who want to be in the center of the action, close to attractions like the Skyline Gondola and Queenstown Gardens. This area is the bustling heart of Queenstown, offering a vibrant atmosphere with a wide range of restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops. 

Frankton, situated near the airport, offers convenience for travelers arriving by air. It’s a bit quieter compared to downtown but still provides easy access to amenities and activities. Frankton also has beautiful lake views and is close to the Remarkables Ski Area.

Fernhill, perched on the hillside overlooking Queenstown, offers stunning panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains. It’s a quieter area compared to downtown, making it suitable for those seeking a more relaxed atmosphere while still being within easy reach of the town center.

Queenstown Hill & Arthurs Point offer a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of downtown. You’ll have easy access to hiking trails, hot pools and the Shotover River.

Kelvin Heights, located across the lake from downtown Queenstown, is a tranquil suburb offering a more secluded experience. It’s an ideal choice for those who want to enjoy the natural beauty of Lake Wakatipu while still being within a short drive or ferry ride from the town center.

During my trip to Queenstown, I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites. It was a great mid-range hotel that had stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and Remarkables Mountain Range. It was a short walk to all shops and restaurants, as well as a short drive from popular ski destinations, golf courses, and vineyards. My room is quiet and comfy.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Queenstown for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Queenstown first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Queenstown first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Queenstown, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Queenstown have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

5 Best/ Safe areas to stay in Queenstown for first-timers and tourists:

1. Downtown Queenstown 

Downtown Queenstown is the most popular area to stay in Queenstown for first time visitors. Staying here puts you right in the heart of the action, with easy access to all the attractions, restaurants, and shops. 

You’ll be within walking distance of everything Queenstown has to offer, including the lakefront, where you can enjoy stunning views and a variety of water activities. Lake Wakatipu offers opportunities for water-based activities like sailing, kayaking, and scenic cruises.

Right in the heart of downtown, you’ll find Queenstown Gardens, a peaceful retreat with lush greenery, walking trails, and views of the lake and mountains.

The central location also means you’ll be within a short drive from the nearby famous ski destinations such as The Remarkables, Coronet Peak,  Treble Cone, and Mount Cardrona as well as Central Otago’s famous vineyards, Jacks Point Golf Course, and The Hills Golf Club.

Downtown boasts a wide range of restaurants, cafes, and cool bars catering to various tastes. You can also find boutique shops, art galleries, and souvenir stores along the streets.

Best places to stay in Downtown Queenstown for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): The Spire Hotel, great 5-star boutique hotel in central downtown Queenstown, easy walk to the shores of Lake Wakatipu. It is also close to the Skyline Gondola and Queenstown Gardens. It features a fitness center, wonderful breakfast, parking, and paid airport shuttle services.

Luxury ($$$): QT Queenstown, popular 5-star lakeside resort conveniently located on Brunswick Street, 10 mins walk from the city center, shopping center, restaurants, and the harbor bridge.  It has views of Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps. It has an outdoor pool, fabulous breakfast, and family rooms. 

Mid-range ($$): Lomond Lodge Motel & Apartments, 4-star accommodation centrally located on Man Street, an easy stroll from the lakefront and gondola. It features studios and self-contained apartments with either a kitchenette or fully equipped kitchen. Just be mindful that there are a fair number of steps to get to a room, so it can be challenge for people with limited mobility or those with heavy luggages.

Budget ($): mi-pad Queenstown, great accommodation in central Queenstown, featuring comfortable air-conditioning rooms and laundry facilities. Short walk to cafes, shops, and eateries. There is a lovely rooftop area that has incredible views.

Hostel ($): Absoloot Hostel Queenstown, lakefront backpacker hostel in the city center of Queenstown, short distance from trnapost to ski resorts, and the gondola. It has private rooms, dormitories, a tour desk, a communal kitchen, and laundry facilities. It offers ski and bike storage in winter and summer.


2. Frankton

Frankton is a great base in Queenstown for easy access to the airport and The Remarkables Ski Area. It’s also home to the Queenstown Airport, making it convenient for travelers arriving by air. Compared to the bustling atmosphere of downtown Queenstown, Frankton tends to be quieter and more relaxed.

Frankton is located on the eastern shore of Lake Wakatipu, about 6 kilometers from the Queenstown town center. This area is home to The Remarkables Park Town Centre, offering a wide range of shopping and dining options. 

Frankton provides easy access to outdoor activities such as walking, cycling, and water sports. The Queenstown Trail, a scenic walking and cycling trail, passes through Frankton and offers opportunities for exploration and exercise.

Best places to stay in Queenstown in Frankton:

Mid-range ($$): Sudima Queenstown Five Mile, popular 4-star hotel in Frankton,  great location by airport and shopping, away from central Queenstown. The hotel has free parking which is a bonus for travelers with a car. They have clean and clean and well-equipped facilities.

Mid-range ($$): Holiday Inn Queenstown Remarkables Park, 4-star hotel in Frankton, very close to the airport, and at the foot of Remarkables Ski Field. It features a fitness center, free private parking, and a 24-hour front desk. Easy get to Queenstown by bus, or you can walk to the ferry jetty at the Hilton to take the ferry to the center of Queenstown.

Mid-range ($$): Driftaway Queenstown, great accommodation located on Lake Avenue, featuring a garden, free parking, family rooms with lake views, and a children’s playground. It is in a quiet area, quick access to the airport.


3. Fernhill

Fernhill is an excellent choice for tourists looking for a peaceful retreat with easy access to Queenstown’s attractions and activities. It is a charming suburb located on the hillside overlooking Queenstown, offering a unique and scenic setting for tourists.

Fernhill is close to numerous hiking and biking trails, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts. You can explore the beautiful natural surroundings on foot or bike, with options ranging from leisurely strolls to challenging hikes.

Best places to stay in Queenstown in Fernhill:

Mid-range ($$): Heritage Queenstown, 4-star hotel located in Fern Hill, 5 mins drive from Queenstown city center, 10 mins drive from Shotover River. It has beautiful views of the Remarkables mountain range, Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown.  It features an outdoor pool, and an onsite restaurant. The two-bedroom suites can accommodate up to 5 people.

Mid-range ($$): Distinctive Alpine Meadows, 4-star townhouse offering one and two bedroom villas with a fully equipped kitchen, a washing machine, and free parking. Great bases for families, couples, and groups of friends. Take note that there are stairs in the apartment.

Mid-range ($$): Platinum Queenstown, 4-star accommodation located only 20 minutes walk to downtown, mostly downhill and along the edge of the lake. There are bus stops outside if you don’t feel like walking. It can be a bit of a hill to climb on the way back, so you can opt for bus and taxis.


4. Queenstown Hill & Arthurs Point

Queenstown Hill and Arthurs Point are excellent locations for nature lovers and those seeking a more secluded getaway. These areas offer stunning natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities.

Queenstown Hill, also known as Te Tapu-nui, rises prominently behind the town of Queenstown. It’s a popular hiking spot, offering panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables mountain range, and the surrounding countryside. 

The hike to the summit takes about 1.5 to 2 hours one way, depending on your pace and fitness level. The reward at the top is breathtaking views, making it a must-do activity for visitors to Queenstown.

Arthur’s Point is known for its scenic beauty and proximity to the Shotover River. The area offers various outdoor activities, including jet boating, bungee jumping, and white-water rafting. 

Arthur’s Point is also home to the historic Shotover Bridge, which is worth a visit for its architectural significance and scenic views of the river gorge below.

Best places to stay in Queenstown Hill & Arthurs Point:

Mid-range ($$): The Canyons B&B, good value for money accommodation on Watties Track, 5 mins drive from Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. It has beautiful views of the Shotover River and Coronet Peak. They B&B can help arrange activities like skydiving, paragliding, wine tours, skiing and helicopter flights. There is free parking, excellent breakfast, and a beautiful garden.

Mid-range ($$): Trelawn Riverside Cottages, 4-star accommodation in a unique riverside location in Arthurs Point. It features stone houses and self-contained cottages with English style furnishings. Beautiful, quiet and relaxing place to stay but just a short drive to shopping and restaurants.

Budget ($): Queenstown Top 10 Holiday Park, 4-star hotel in Arthurs Point Road, 5 mins walk from the Shotover River. It has free onsite parking, a barbecue area, a children’s playground, a shared kitchen, and a tour desk. Short drive to Onsen Hot Pools, Lake Wakatipu, and  Coronet Peak Snow Fields.


5. Kelvin Heights

Kelvin Heights is a picturesque suburb situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, offering stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Kelvin Heights is known for its tranquil atmosphere and outdoor recreational opportunities, including hiking, mountain biking, and golfing. 

The Queenstown Golf Club, one of the most scenic golf courses in the country, is located in Kelvin Heights. This area is also close to the popular Remarkables ski area and Queenstown Trail.

Accommodation here is mostly villas, guest houses, cottages, and apartments. They are concentrated along the lakefront, offering views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.

Best places to stay in Queenstown in Kelvin Heights:

Mid-range ($$): Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa, popular 4-star hotel in Kawarau Village, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, featuring indoor pool and suites with a gas fireplace. 5 mins drive from Queenstown Airport for a trip to Milford Sound and a 15 mins water taxi from Queenstown downtown.

Mid-range ($$): Queenstown Village Apartments, 4-star accommodation on the banks of Lake Wakatipu, great base for big families and groups as it has Six-Bedroom Apartment that can accommodate up to 12 people. It has restaurants, bars and ski shops. Apartments come with a full kitchen.

Budget ($): East Rock, 3-star accommodation located on Cedar Drive Kelvin Heights, featuring a tennis court, free onsite parking, laundry, and Ski storage spaces. You can enjoy skiing nearby.


In conclusion, Downtown, Frankton, Fernhill, Queenstown Hill & Arthurs Point, and Kelvin Heights are the best places to stay in Queenstown for first-timers and tourists. These areas are generally safe, offering a variety of accommodation and easy access to attractions and amenities.

You can continue reading about other destinations in New Zealand in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safe neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Queenstown. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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