Dog-Friendly Queenstown, NZ: Visiting with a Dog

One of the top tourist destinations in New Zealand, Queenstown is still a great destination to visit with your dog. Although adventures sports from bungee jumping to jet boating are off limits for your dog, you can still enjoy the area’s spectacular scenery, historic mining towns and award-winning wine with your pup by your side. Find out more about dog-friendly Queenstown…

Dog-Friendly Queenstown

Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in Queenstown

When visiting Queenstown, NZ with your dog, add these dog-friendly sightseeing ideas to your list of things to tick off during your visit.

#1 Stroll Around the Queenstown Gardens

One of the prettiest spots in Queenstown are the Queenstown Gardens. Located on the peninsula on the western side of the town, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a relaxed stroll on a quiet afternoon or during one of the long summer evenings.

Queenstown Gardens
The beautiful Queenstown Gardens

Dogs are welcome to join you, as long as they stay on a leash. There’s a poo bag dispenser at the start of the walkway in the gardens, just after you cross over the bridge.

Queenstown Gardens Dogs Sign
Keep your dog on a leash at the Queenstown Gardens

We followed the Short Walk through the gardens, which only took about 20 minutes as the sign claimed despite being listed as 1.7km long. Meander down through the centre of the gardens past formal garden beds, the rose gardens and even a dog statue in the pond, before returning along the shore of Lake Wakatipu.

View Across Lake from Queenstown Gardens
The view of Queenstown from the Gardens

#2 Follow the Scenic Drive to Glenorchy

Queenstown is surrounded by many spectacular untouched landscapes, much of it protected within national parks and off limits for dogs. However, there’s still plenty of scenic spots that you can visit with your dog, particularly along the shores of Lake Wakatipu.

I recommend following the 45km long scenic drive along the lake to Glenorchy, also known as the Tommy Thompson Scenic Drive after one of the road’s main advocates. Although you could drive the road non-stop in under an hour, allow longer to stop along the way.

Glenorchy Scenic Drive
The road from Queenstown to Glenorchy

One of the best lookouts we stopped at is the Bennetts Bluff Viewpoint, which has plenty of parking. The viewpoint is accessed by a short 200m long walking track and offers incredible views of the nearby mountains. Dogs are welcome to join you, just keep them on a short leash due to the dangerous mineshafts not far off the track.

Bennetts Bluff Viewpoint
The view looking west from Bennetts Bluff Viewpoint

#3 Go Tramping at Bob’s Cove

Another place to stop along the scenic drive to Glenorchy is Bob’s Cove. This delightful spot on the shore of Lake Wakatipu was certainly a popular spot on the warm sunny day that we visited, and dogs are welcome on a leash, including to paddle in the lake.

Bobs Cove
The idyllic Bob’s Cove

There’s a small carpark next to the highway signposted Bob’s Cove, from where you can follow a short walking trail criss-crossing the hill down to the cove and along its shore to an historic kiln. Just note the carpark can easily fill up on sunny afternoons.

Bobs Cove Track At Twelve Mile Delta
The longer track starting at Twelve Mile Delta Recreation Reserve

Another alternative is the longer walking track starting at the Twelve Mile Delta Recreation Reserve, where there is a large carpark and a boat ramp. From here, allow 1-2 hours to walk to Bob’s Cove, passing a filming location from Lord of the Rings along the way.

For more walkings tracks looked after by the Department of Conservation in the Queenstown area, search on this page. Just keep you dog on a leash if requested, and note that permits are required in some areas.

Note that dogs are not allowed in the Queenstown Hill Reserve, so skip this popular short walk on the hill above Queenstown.

#4 Taste Central Otago Wine

The Central Otago region is one of the most prestigious wine growing regions in New Zealand, the perfect climate for growing premium pinot noir. And you don’t need to drive far out of Queenstown to partake in a wine tasting at one of the many Gibbston Valley cellar doors.

Gibbston Valley Vineyard
Enjoy wine tasting with your dog by your side

I can’t find a central listing of what wineries allow dogs in the area. I recommend speaking directly to the wineries that you want to visit before making a booking. Just be warned dogs may only be permitted in the outdoor areas.

One dog-friendly winery in the Gibbston Valley is Kinross. Dogs are welcome to join you in the outdoor areas of their cellar door. They can even stay the night with you in one of the on-site cottages, for an additional fee.

#5 Spend an Afternoon in Arrowtown

Also just outside of Queenstown is the historic mining town of Arrowtown. It’s a great spot to visit, with many restaurants and boutiques now housed in the renovated buildings along Buckingham Street, a block over from the river where gold was first found.

I was somewhat confused about the “no dog” symbol on some of the signs around the street. However, this just refers to dogs not being allowed off-leash – of course keep your dog leashed!

Arrowtown Restaurant and Historic Houses
Explore Arrowtown or just dine at one of the many restaurants

Two of the dog-friendly restaurants that you may like to visit include The Fork and Tap (I spotted some dog water bowls) and the New Orleans Hotel (who have a sign in their window). Or just grab a take-away ice-cream from Patagonia and enjoy it down next to the water.

Arrow River Bridges Trail
Follow a trail along the banks of the Arrow River

There’s a number of dog-friendly walking trails along the banks of the Arrow River. Walk along the 4.2km long Arrowtown Anniversary Walk or part of the longer Queenstown Trail, an off-road cycling trail that is one of NZ’s Great Rides. It’s also worthwhile walking around the Arrowtown Chinese Settlement, with your dog on a leash of course.

Arrowtown Chinese Settlement
The Arrowtown Chinese Settlement

#6 Walk Around Lake Hayes

Next to the turn-off to Arrowtown is Lake Hayes, which is another great spot for a long peaceful on-leash walk with your pup.

The 8km-long Lake Hayes Walkway follows the shoreline of the lake, a flat and easy walking trail of smooth gravel. There’s multiple access points to the track, including at the Lake Hayes Pavilion. Allow about two to three hours to complete the full circuit.

Lake Hayes Walkway
The Lake Hayes Walkway

It’s recommended to check the water quality alerts online, before enjoying a paddle in the lake – either yourself or your dog.

#7 Drive to Cardrona

Another excellent scenic drive to enjoy with your dog around Queenstown is the drive to Cardrona, passing over the Crown Ranges. Only sealed less than 25 years ago, these days it’s also the scenic (and shorter) option to drive to Wanaka.

As soon as you turn-off onto the Crown Range Road, the road begins to steeply climb, zig-zagging up the mountain. At the top of the initial climb, don’t miss stopping at the lookout, which provides beautiful views of the valley below.

Crown Range Viewpoint
The view from the Crown Range Viewpoint

Further on, there’s another great viewpoint when you get to the top of the Crown Ranges, also a freedom camping spot. There’s plenty of room to enjoy a snack or just take in the view.

Top of Crown Range
On top of the Crown Ranges

Keep on driving until you reach the historic Cardrona Hotel, one of the most photographed buildings in all of New Zealand. It’s the perfect spot for a selfie with your pup. Their spacious beer garden out the back is also dog-friendly – it’s probably best to take the path around the side of the building. There’s even a fireplace and glass houses for the colder months.

Cardrona Hotel
The iconic facade of the Cardrona Hotel
Beergarden at Cardrona Hotel
The beer garden at the Cardrona Hotel

During the winter months, head a little further down the road to the dog-friendly Snow Farm. Your dog is welcome to join you while your cross-country ski or snowshoe. Dogs are allowed off-leash on some trails, but only on-leash on others. Buy a dog day pass or season pass.

#8 Explore the Cromwell Heritage Precinct

Another interesting historic spot near Queenstown is the Cromwell Heritage Precinct. When the historic town centre of Cromwell was flooded to create Lake Dunstan, many of its old buildings and stores were relocated, to the present site of the Heritage Precinct on the lake shores.

Cromwell Heritage Precinct
Explore the Cromwell Heritage Precinct on foot (and paw)

The Cromwell Heritage Precinct is much quieter than Arrowtown, partially as it’s nearly an hour’s drive from Queenstown. It’s also pedestrianised, so it’s an easier spot to wander around with your dog, visiting the stores and checking out the historic displays about the early days of this gold rush town.

There’s dog-friendly outdoor tables on the terrace out the front of some of the cafes, including Grain & Seed Cafe and Pinot Junction, a wine bar. A weekly farmers market is also held in the precinct every Sunday morning, between Labour Weekend and ANZAC Weekend.

Are Dogs Allowed on Public Transport in Queenstown?

It can be difficult to get a park in the centre of Queenstown, so it sometimes makes sense to take public transport.

The most dog-friendly transport option around Queenstown are the ferries operated by Queenstown Ferries between Queenstown Bay and Frankton. Dogs are welcome to join you for free on the ferry. They only need to be leashed, not in a carrier. The journey takes 20 minutes in each direction.

(Note that dogs are not allowed on the cruises operated on the historic TSS Earnslaw, so this is the closest you’ll get to a cruise on Lake Wakatipu with your pup without your own boat!)

Lake Wakatipu Queenstown
Dogs are permitted on the ferries at Queenstown

The rules for pets are much more restrictive on the buses around Queenstown. Only small pets in a suitable carrier are permitted onboard, sitting on your lap, during off-peak hours (weekends and 9am to 3pm or after 6:30pm on weekdays). Pets ride for free, but need to not be disruptive.

Dog-Friendly Parks in Queenstown

While dogs are generally permitted on-leash in most parks around Queenstown, there are also some off-leash areas you can visit with your dog to burn off some energy.

The most central off-leash dog park in Queenstown is the Queenstown Recreational Reserve, just off Man Street. Double check the signs about the rules when organised events are being held.

Queenstown Recreeation Reserve
Dogs are allowed off-leash at the Queenstown Recreational Reserve

Alternatively, head to the southern side of town and St Omer Park. A long park stretching along the shore of Lake Wakatipu, it’s a great spot for an off-leash walk with your dog.

St Omer Park
Or head to St Omer Park with your dog

For a full map of what are the rules for dogs throughout the Queenstown Lakes District Control area, head to this page. Open up the Dog Control Map, which shows were dogs are allowed off-leash, on-leash or are prohibited. There’s separate shading for public conservation areas – check with DOC for the rules in those areas.

Dog-Friendly Cafes in Queenstown

No visit to Queenstown is complete without a visit to the iconic Fergburger on Shotover Street. It’s easiest to deal with the queue and order inside if there’s at least two of you. While there’s some outdoor seating, I recommend taking your burgers and fries down to the shore of the lake to enjoy.

Fergburger next to Lake
Don’t miss a Fergburger or two

For more scenic dining next to the lake, head to The Bathhouse, an historic building next to the beach. It’s best to head here on sunny days – dogs are welcome to join you on the outside deck, but there’s no shelter from the elements. We arrived just in time for the Rose and Mimosa happy hour, but it’s also open for meals and drinks throughout the day.

The Bathhouse Queenstown
Enjoy a drink or meal lakeside at the Bathhouse

Another great dog-friendly cafe is Yonder. It’s probably best to head here for brunch or lunch with your pup – not late at night when it stays open serving up cocktails. There’s an excellent courtyard out the front, that catches the sun all day, with water bowls provided for pups. The French Toast is particularly popular, and there’s plenty of options for dietary restrictions.

Yonder Queenstown
The courtyard at Yonder

Dog-Friendly Pubs in Queenstown

Both Yonder and the Bathhouse can serve you a drink, ranging from wine to beers to cocktails. Alternatively, another spot to enjoy a drink with your pup by your side is the Altitude Brewing Taproom.

Located a little way out of the centre of town, closer to Frankton, dogs are welcome to join you as long as they are kept on a leash. Choose from their rotating range of beers, including the Sled Dog Session Hazy. The brewery is open from Wednesday to Sunday, with regular visits from food trucks.

Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Queenstown

There’s a wide range of pet-friendly accommodation to choose from in Queenstown, whether you’re after a luxury stay or are camping in a campervan.

One of the most pet-friendly options is the Abba Court Motel, inspired by the owners’ travels with their own dog. Selected rooms are pet-friendly, which need to be directly booked. Pets must be house trained and generally only two are permitted per room. Best of all, the motel is just a 10 minute walk from the centre of town.

For a touch of luxury, make a booking with the QT Queenstown, a five-star hotel with lake views on the southern side of Queenstown. As part of their Pup Yeah! package, up to one dog is permitted per room, as long as they’re under 20kg. Included in the package is a bed for your pup, their own mini bar and an in-room pet dining menu. An additional cleaning fee of $150 applies.

Lakeside at St Omer Park
Lakeside off-leash walks at St Omer Park

Another dog-friendly option are the Vineyard Cottages at Kinross Winery, in the heart of the Gibbston Valley. Book a package to stay in one of their 14 cottages nestled amongst the vineyard, with a hosted wine tasting session and breakfast included, plus soaking in their outdoor hot tubs. An additional fee of $25 per night applies for pets.

One of the caravan parks right in town that allows dogs is Hampshire Holiday Parks – Queenstown Lakeview. Pet dogs are allowed in the campsite area only, not in any of the cabins or motel rooms. There are both powered and unpowered sites, including larger sites for caravans. The park is just a few minutes walk from the centre of town – perfect so you don’t need to find a park elsewhere.

Alternatively, head out of town to the Twelve Mile Delta Conservation Campsite, one of the closest DOC campsites to Queenstown. With 100 unpowered sites, advance bookings are not required and leashed dogs are welcome. Right next to Lake Wakatipu, it’s well-placed for the walking track to Bob’s Cove (see above).

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About the Author

Photo of Shandos & Schnitzel

Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.

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