The 6 Best Queenstown Boat Trips, Tours & Cruises

Queenstown boat trips, tours, and cruises

⛴ Introduction to The 6 Best Queenstown Boat Trips, Tours & Cruises

Queenstown beckons with its breathtaking landscapes and many adventures waiting to be explored.

Among the myriad ways to experience the beauty of this South Island gem, none are as captivating as the diverse selection of boat trips, tours, and cruises.

In this guide, we unveil the top six experiences that promise a journey and an unforgettable adventure through the pristine waters surrounding Queenstown.

1. Dart River Jet Boat and Wilderness Experience

Embark on an extraordinary 2-hour jet-boat journey that stands out as the pinnacle of the Dart River Wilderness Safari, departing from Glenorchy.

  • Led by a knowledgeable naturalist guide, explore Glenorchy, the gateway to the World Heritage-listed Mt Aspiring National Park.
  • Navigate the twists and turns of the glacier-fed Dart River, surrounded by majestic peaks and hidden valleys.
  • Enjoy an exhilarating jet-boat ride, immersing yourself in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Mt Aspiring National Park.
  • Participate in a guided nature walk to admire the park’s beauty and learn about its unique vegetation and wildlife.
  • Gain insights into the flora and fauna on this thrilling adventure from your expert naturalist guide.

🧑‍💻 Booking Experience

📌 What’s included?

✅ Life Jackets ✅ Transport from Queenstown ✅ Professional Guide ✅ Jet Boat Ride ❌ Food and drinks ❌ Gratuities

🔎 Additional information

  • Receive confirmation immediately upon booking.
  • The experience runs smoothly in all weather conditions; kindly dress appropriately and consider wearing a warm outer layer, especially on colder days.
  • Children must be a minimum of 3 years old to participate.
  • To secure a full refund, ensure cancellation is done at least 24 hours before the scheduled start time of the experience.

Boat Queenstown

2. Milford Sound Cruise from Queenstown or Te Anau

Cruise the Tasman Sea on the ‘Milford Mariner,’ ‘Milford Sinbad,’ or ‘Milford Wanderer, passing by the iconic Mitre Peak and gliding beside exhilarating waterfalls.

  • Wildlife spotting opportunities include New Zealand fur seals, dolphins, and Fiordland-crested penguins.
  • Benefit from expert commentary provided by an onboard nature specialist.
  • Convenient hotel pickup and drop-off options are available via luxury coach from Milford Sound, Queenstown, and Te Anau.
  • Experience an entire Milford Sound cruise with transport from Queenstown or Te Anau.
  • Traverse the whole UNESCO-listed fiord, marveling at the natural beauty.
  • Motor past Mitre Peak and witness the breathtaking cascades en route to the Tasman Sea.
  • Engage with live commentary from a knowledgeable naturalist guide throughout the journey.
  • Keep a vigilant eye out for penguins, dolphins, and fur seals during the cruise.
  • Enjoy the added convenience of hotel pickup and drop-off by luxury coach.

🧑‍💻 Booking Experience

📌 What’s included?

✅  All Fees and Taxes ✅  Air-conditioned vehicle ✅ Alcoholic drinks (available to purchase) ✅ Lunch (but available at extra cost)

🔎 Additional information

  • Confirmation is promptly received upon booking.
  • The experience operates seamlessly in all weather conditions.
  • Please dress appropriately for the outing.
  • Activity is not wheelchair accessible.
  • Infants must sit on laps during the cruise.
  • Rates for infants and children are the same for this product.
  • Children must be accompanied by an adult for this tour/activity.


3. Full-Day Milford Sound Experience from Queenstown

Explore the captivating beauty of Milford Sound, arguably New Zealand’s most scenic destination, in a small-group experience, traveling by coach from Queenstown to Fiordland National Park.

  • Immerse yourself in the lush wilderness with a boat cruise on Milford Sound.
  • Witness the dramatic landscape featuring jagged, snow-capped mountains and shimmering fjords.
  • Admire towering waterfalls and vibrant emerald greenery that characterize this stunning location.
  • Marvel at The Remarkables mountain range, Lake Wakatipu, and Lake Te Anau during the journey.
  • Engage in a full-day tour with a Milford Sound cruise and a BBQ lunch.
  • Capture stunning photos of the scenic landscapes and local wildlife along the way.
  • Take optional walks during scenic stops, enhancing your connection with the natural surroundings.
  • Benefit from the personalized experience ensured by a small group setting.

🧑‍💻 Booking Experience

📌 What’s included?

✅ 2-hour Cruise on Milford Sound ✅ Multiple convenient pick-ups and drop-offs around Queenstown ✅ Professional driver and guider ✅  Wi-Fi ✅ Scenic photo stops en route ✅  Coffee and tea ❌ Bottled water ❌ Snacks

🔎 Additional information

  • Confirmation received upon booking.
  • Not wheelchair accessible.
  • Suitable for most travelers.
  • Milford Sound is a 5-hour drive from Queenstown (one-way, with sightseeing stops).
  • Full-day excursion with approximately 13 hours door-to-door, including a 2-hour fjord cruise.
  • Option to include a packed picnic lunch; the default choice is chicken (vegetarian option available by request until 5 pm the day prior).
  • Recommended bringing a reusable water bottle; multiple refill locations are available during the day.

Cruise experience

4. Jet Boat ride on Lake Whakatipu and Kawarau River

Experience an exhilarating alternative to leisurely sightseeing cruises with a high-speed jet boat ride on Lake Wakatipu. At the same time, you feel the thrill of twists, turns, and riding over rapids for an adrenaline-pumping adventure.

  • Access scenic views of cliffs and natural wonders as you speed along the Kawarau River.
  • Ideal for nature lovers and thrillseekers, explore the outdoor wonders of Queenstown at a fast pace.
  • During the thrilling ride, witness the majestic peaks of The Remarkables and the scenic Kelvin Peninsula.
  • Enjoy informative commentary along the way, providing insights into the region’s natural beauty.
  • There’s no need to bring life jackets—they’re included for convenience.

🧑‍💻 Booking Experience

📌 What’s included?

✅  Jet boat ride across Lake Wakatipu and down the Kawarau River ✅  Life jackets ✅  Famous 360-degree spins ✅  Driver commentary

🔎 Additional information

  • Confirmation is sent within 48 hours of booking, subject to availability.
  • Not wheelchair accessible.
  • Infants must sit on laps; infant seats are available.
  • It is not recommended for travelers with back problems or pregnant travelers.
  • Participants should have no heart issues or other severe medical conditions.
  • Suitable for most travelers; however, children 2 and younger are not allowed.
  • Minimum weight requirement: You must weigh at least 33 pounds (15 kg).
  • Check-in is 15 minutes before the booked tour start time.
  • This tour/activity accommodates a maximum of 28 travelers.

Jet boat in Queenstown

5. Million Dollar Cruise in Queenstown

Explore Lake Wakatipu on a 1.5-hour boat cruise from Queenstown while admiring stunning lakeside homes, diverse birdlife, Kawarau Dam, and the magnificent surrounding scenery.

  • Enjoy unobstructed views from the sundeck, or stay warm in the heated cabin.
  • Option to purchase drinks from the onboard bar during the cruise.
  • Take part in an affordable boat tour with excellent photo opportunities.
  • Discover more of Queenstown’s picturesque surroundings.
  • Suitable for all ages, providing a delightful experience for everyone.

🧑‍💻 Booking Experience

📌 What’s included?

✅ 90-minute Queenstown Lake Cruise ✅  Restroom on board ✅ Bottled water ❌ Transportation to the attraction

🔎 Additional information

  • Confirmation received at the time of booking.
  • Not wheelchair accessible.
  • An honesty cash bar is available onboard.
  • Stroller accessible for added convenience.
  • Located near public transportation for easy accessibility.
  • Suitable for most travelers, ensuring widespread participation.
  • This tour/activity accommodates a maximum of 61 travelers.

Queenstown cruise

6. Half-Day Milford Sound Nature Cruise and Flight from Queenstown

Experience the sheer cliffs of Milford Sound from both air and water on a half-day tour from Queenstown.

At the same time, you will travel by a sightseeing plane and catamaran, offering a unique perspective of this UNESCO-listed Fjordland National Park.

  • Touch down at Milford Sound for a cruise featuring drinks and lunch (available for midday departure) served onboard.
  • It is the perfect tour for photography enthusiasts and wildlife watchers, showcasing the pristine environment and native wildlife.
  • Multiple departure times to choose from for added flexibility.
  • Enjoy lunch (midday departure only) and drinks served onboard during the cruise.
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off from Queenstown hotels are included for a seamless experience.

🧑‍💻 Booking Experience

📌 What’s included?

✅ Pilot commentary ✅ Hotel pick-up and drop-off Coffee and tea  Lunch 

🔎 Additional information

  • Confirmation is received within 48 hours of booking, subject to availability.
  • The tour is subject to favorable weather conditions; in case of poor weather, the option of an alternative date or a full refund will be provided.
  • Remember to bring a jacket and your camera for a comfortable and memorable experience.
  • Not wheelchair accessible, but stroller accessible for added convenience.
  • Please advise any specific dietary requirements at the time of booking.
  • Infant rates apply for 0 – 1 years of age, when the infant is sat on a parent’s lap with an infant lap belt.
  • An adult must accompany children; infants must sit on laps.
  • Suitable for most travelers, ensuring widespread participation.
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 50 travelers.

Queenstown flight

⭐ Practical Tips and Recommendations for Booking a Boat Trip, Tour or Cruise around Queenstown

  • Plan in Advance: Queenstown is a popular tourist destination, especially for boat trips and cruises. Plan and book your activity in advance to secure your preferred date and time.
  • Check Weather Conditions: Queenstown’s weather can be unpredictable. Check the weather forecast before booking, and be prepared for changes. Some activities may be weather-dependent.
  • Read Reviews: Check online reviews from other travelers to ensure the tour or cruise operator has a good reputation for safety, service, and customer satisfaction.
  • Choose the Right Type of Cruise: Queenstown offers a variety of cruises, from scenic nature cruises to adrenaline-pumping jet boat rides. Choose the type of cruise that matches your interests and preferences.
  • Consider Package Deals: Some operators offer package deals that combine multiple activities or include meals. Explore these options to get the best value for your money.
  • Verify Inclusions: Confirm what is included in the tour or cruise. Some offer complimentary snacks, meals, or drinks, while others require additional purchases.
  • Check for Discounts: Look for discounts or special offers, especially if you’re booking multiple activities or with a group. Many operators provide discounts for online bookings.
  • Ask About Cancellation Policies: Understand the cancellation policies of the tour operator. Check for any fees or restrictions for canceling or rescheduling due to unforeseen circumstances.
  • Dress Accordingly: Depending on the type of cruise, weather, and activities involved, dress appropriately. Bring layers, a waterproof jacket, comfortable shoes, and any other necessary items.
  • Arrive Early: Arrive at the departure point early to ensure a smooth check-in process. Some tours may have limited seating, and arriving early ensures you get your preferred spot.
  • Bring Essentials: Bring essentials like sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and a camera to capture the stunning landscapes and memorable moments.
  • Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask questions before booking or during the tour. Clarify any doubts about safety measures, itinerary details, or any specific requirements you may have.


In the heart of New Zealand’s South Island, Queenstown’s boat trips, tours, and cruises offer a glimpse and a profound immersion into nature’s grandeur. 

From the serenity of Lake Wakatipu to the majestic allure of Milford Sound, each experience unravels a new chapter in this tale of scenic splendor.

Choose your vessel, set sail, and let Queenstown’s waters weave a story of beauty, adventure, and everlasting memories! 

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