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Adventure begins with a car rental in Queenstown
When you rent a car in Queenstown, all of the splendours of the city and the Otago region are yours to experience. This gorgeous part of New Zealand has something exhilarating to do and something spectacular to see around every curve in the road. With a GoSee car rental and time to spend in this stunning city, you are guaranteed to find out why Queenstown is called the "Adventure Capital of the World".
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All you need to know about hiring a car in Queenstown
A guide to driving in Queenstown
Picking up a Queenstown rental car is the start of a memory-making road trip. The routes you will drive range from scenic lakeside lanes to winding mountain passes, and there’s a breathtaking vista or adventure activity around every corner. To get you off to a great start, check out our tips and stay safe on those New Zealand roads:
- Stay left! For some international visitors, getting behind the wheel of a rental car in Queenstown might be their first experience with driving on the left. If that’s you, make sure you keep your mind on the task at hand. Practice on quiet streets while you acclimatise.
- The roads in and around Queenstown can be steep and windy—this is especially true of the nearby Crown Range Road which many visitors drive over to visit Cardrona and Wanaka. Drive slowly and carefully.
- In winter, some roads may close due to adverse conditions. Details can be found on the New Zealand Transport Authority website—if the weather’s iffy, it may pay to check before you head out.
- Speed limits are posted in kilometres per hour, and distances in kilometres.
What to see and do with your car hire from Queenstown
A rental car offers you the freedom to see anything your heart desires during your stay in Queenstown. If your heart needs a little guidance, take a look at these suggestions to plan your dream itinerary.
Action and adventure
You can’t miss the adventure tourism operators in Queenstown! There are plenty of options for thrill-seekers: bungy jumping, jet boating, helicopter flights, parasailing, a gondola and luge track, kayaking, white water rafting, a canyon swing, and more. Many of these activities and excursions can be booked in the city center, so visit some tourism information centres or booking agents and create your own adventure.
Want something a little more on the low-key side? Head out to the beautiful wineries of the Otago region. Amisfield is close to Queenstown and known for its high-end restaurant and tasting experiences. Gibbston Valley offers immersive wine experiences. There are plenty of vineyards large and small to explore, and chauffeured tours available so you can relax and enjoy. If spirits are more your style, visit Cardrona Distillery just over the Crown Range.
Exploring on foot is a great way to see and experience the beauty of the place. You can start with a lakeside stroll in the city, and move on to something with a little more altitude like Queenstown Hill, Lake Alta, or the Tiki Trail. For high effort but spectacular scenic rewards, head over to Wanaka to climb Roy’s Peak. With a car hire from Queenstown, there are so many incredible walking tracks available to you. Lace-up your boots and explore.
There are many ways to enjoy this gorgeous body of water. In the summer, jump in for a swim or try a short-term rental of a small pedal craft. You can also book scenic cruises on a variety of boats including the gorgeous old twin-screw steamer the TSS Earnslaw. Most cruises and many of the river jet boats begin their voyages from docks in the city centre.
Want to explore more of New Zealand with your rental car? You could get a car hire from Auckland or grab a car rental from Wellington Airport to start your North Island adventure. You can also rent a car in Christchurch and start your road trip from there. Other popular car hire locations for your NZ trip include getting a car hire in Nelson or in Dunedin.
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Absolutely! Most rental companies with depots around the country will offer one-way rentals from Queenstown, although they may incur an extra fee. You should always arrange this with the rental company when you book your vehicle rental—and the GoSee booking platform makes it easy to do so.
There are plenty of parking spots in and around Queenstown, Parking on public streets is available in the CBD and surrounds, but will usually be subject to restrictions such as time limits—and these are strictly enforced. Some street parking requires payment, and there are also paid parking buildings or lots on Man Street, Church Street, and Ballarat Street.
The minimum age for hiring a car in Queenstown is 21. However, some companies may have additional restrictions or costs for those aged under 25.
The speed limit in and around Queenstown varies depending on the type of road. 100km/h is the maximum speed for open roads. Urban roads generally have a limit of 50km/h, and you may also encounter other speed limits as you make your way around. Always pay close attention to speed limit signs and be aware of the limit where you are driving. Including a GPS with your NZ car rental from Queenstown can help you to keep track of the speed limit, as they often provide that information.
Prices will range depending on the type of car you are looking for and the time of year (Queenstown is popular year-round but has summer and winter peaks). You can expect to pay anywhere from NZD$50 per day for a more compact model to several hundred dollars a day for an SUV during a peak time.
With mountain roads and so much to see and do, many visitors booking a rental in Queenstown will opt for a larger vehicle and one with 4 wheel drive capability. However, there is a wide range of cars to hire in Queenstown, and you can choose whatever ride will suit your plans.
You can expect a drive of around eight kilometres (ten to fifteen minutes) to get from Queenstown Airport to the CBD in your car rental. There can be delays due to traffic, particularly as you approach the city—so be aware of this during peak commute times.
Many car hire operators in Queenstown and around New Zealand have policies in place to keep customers as safe as possible from COVID-19. This includes Dollar, Alamo, Europcar, and others. For extra peace of mind, you may wish to check this with the rental company with which you are thinking of booking.
The cheapest car rental providers in Queenstown include Big Value, Omega, Snap, and EZU. These are all off-airport providers, but offer free shuttle services to make it easy for those arriving by air to pick up their car and get going.
This depends on your plans! If you are planning a few leisurely drives to nearby towns and the main sights, a car in the “compact”, “economy”, or “mid-size” categories would do the job. If you’re thinking of leaving the beaten track, driving some mountain passes, and heading further afield, you may prefer to have the extra space and capabilities of an SUV.