Queenstown really prides itself as being the outdoor activity capital of the world. This is, after all, the place where bungee-jumping was invented. Yet the town of Queenstown itself is a relatively small place, with a population of around 30,000 people. The airport in Queenstown is right on the edge of the centre, so it’s easy enough to pick up a hire car here, but buses and taxis are also widely available, and nowhere within the town itself is particularly out of reach by any means.
If you are coming here for outdoor activities, then you might well be taking part in the sort of sports where transport is provided. This will always be the case if this involves vans or towing trailers with kayaks, mountain bikes and other specialist equipment. That too should be reasonably straightforward enough. If that was the only focus then the advice would lean heavily against getting a hire car.
Yet the reason why Queenstown is so popular for outdoor activities also explains why it attracts so many visitors seeking a much more genteel sort of holiday. This is of course because Queenstown sits right in the middle of so much outstanding scenery.
In particular, this is the gateway to New Zealand’s fjord land, the most famous part of which is the spectacular Milford Sound. Driving from Queenstown to Milford Sound without stopping might take 2 to 3 hours. Some visitors also choose to take scenic flights, either from Queenstown or from the small airport that is in Milford Sound itself. In some cases these flights are simply provided on a one-way basis between the two points.
There are buses shuffling up and down around this area and you can take organised tours which will show the scenic areas around Queenstown at their pace rather than yours.
These organised tours can also include a specialist itinerary focusing on places used in the Lord of the Rings trilogy or in the Hobbit.
So there’s certainly no need to look for Queenstown car hire deals if you’ll be happy enough relying on local public transport and organised trips. This is easy enough to do here, but it’s far from ideal.
Compared to many great European outdoor destinations, for example such as Interlaken in Switzerland, public transport around Queenstown really is not that good at all. This is hardly surprising given that no railways were built here to start with.
Therefore, on balance, our Queenstown car hire advice has to swing towards saying that unless your focus really is just on outdoor activities where transport is provided, getting a rental car here is going to be a lot easier than not having one.
Should you rent a car in Queenstown? Ultimately, you should rent a car in Queenstown if you want to see or do anything on your own terms. For any kind of organised activity, including sight seeing flights or bus tours of film locations, then there’s really little need.