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The Cost of Living in Queenstown

Queenstown is one of New Zealand’s most exciting places to live.
By · January 28 2022
The Cost of Living in Queenstown

Queenstown is one of New Zealand’s most exciting places to live, but the small south-island town comes with a hefty price tag. Queenstown is an expensive place to live, and house prices are regularly in the millions.

Reasons to move to Queenstown

Queenstown is a popular tourist destination due to the mountains, many tourist activities and beautiful scenery. It’s a popular destination for travellers looking to complete a ski season at one of the many local ski peaks.

Queenstown’s population has more than doubled in just 25 years. In 2021, the size of this once small town was 48,300.

Salaries in Queenstown

In Queenstown, the average income in 2020 was $56,351, per annum, slightly below the average salary of $64,237 for all New Zealand.

What’s different about Queenstown?

Queenstown is located on the shore of Lake Wakatipu and is framed by the Southern Alps. It’s known as the Adventure Capital of New Zealand due to adrenaline-fuelled activities like bungee jumping and jet boating that originated here. Many people also move to Queenstown to enjoy the ski season. There are three major ski areas: The Remarkables, Treble Cone and Coronet Peak to enjoy.

While Queenstown is expensive, many people live further away in towns such as Frankton, Arrowtown and Lake Hayes as the houses in these areas are slightly cheaper, and the sections are a little bigger.

Queenstown is a top-rated tourist destination, and finding work in the town isn’t always easy. It’s a good idea to secure a job before moving. In some jobs, such as retail, workers are paid much higher than the minimum wage to keep up with the high cost of living. Working in Queenstown for a summer or winter can be a good way to earn and save money if you can find cheap accommodation.

Cost of living in Queenstown

Queenstown has always suffered from a shortage of accommodation due to the transient nature of many industries, like tourism. It’s not unusual for people to share a flat or rental with five or six others. It is a good idea to look for housing before moving to Queenstown.

For Renters

There are 24 suburbs and towns to rent houses in the Queenstown-Lakes area, some further away like Glenorchy, Arrowtown, Kingston and Gibbston.

The 2021 Trade Me Rental Price Index showed Otago had a median weekly rent of $500 per week, in line with what you should expect to pay in Queenstown.

One-bedroom houses rent for around $385-$450 a week, while 3-4 bedroom homes rent for an average of $600-750 a week.

Popular suburbs for renting in Queenstown-Lakes District include:

  • Arthur’s Point
  • Goldfield Heights
  • Jack’s Point
  • Arrowtown
  • Frankton
  • Lower Shotover
  • Fernhill
  • The Town Centre (
  • Lake Hayes

Buying in Queenstown

Buying a house in Queenstown is very competitive. The area has been experiencing a construction boom; however, the price of housing is still relatively high compared with the rest of the country. In November 2021, data showed that asking prices in the Queenstown-Lakes area had risen by 41.9% to an average of $1.4 million.

This is well above the national average of $993,135.

The price increases are mainly due to a lack of new supply and very few titled sections that allow new houses to be built.

Queenstown neighbourhoods of interest

Queenstown is a small town, so in some respects, it doesn’t matter too much where you choose to stay — you’ll never be more than half an hour’s drive from most places.

Fernhill

Fernhill is located on the slopes of Ben Lomond, in the west of Queenstown. Close to several walking tracks and within walking distance of the centre of town, Fernhill is a great place to stay for people who like to keep active. Two hiking trails, the Fernhill Loop Track in the Ben Lomond Reserve and the Arawata Terrace Track, are close by. This area has a lot of hotels in it and is a popular place for tourists to stay outside of the very centre of Queenstown.

There are large houses and smaller homes available for rent in this area. A 4 bedroom home rents around $850 per week, while a one-bedroom costs $420 per week.

Shotover Country

Shotover Country is a relatively new suburb that was first established in 2012. The area was rezoned from rural to residential to form a new suburb between the Shotover and Kawarau Rivers.

Although Shotover Country is a suburb of Queenstown, it is a little further away than some inner suburbs, and it could pay to have access to a car here. Even so, the location is excellent. Shotover Country is close to Frankton and Queenstown airport and has well-established schools, parks and amenities that mean you won’t have to go into central Queenstown to shop.

The average price for a 3-bedroom rental in Shotover Country is $780 per week. The average price of a one-bedroom home is $450 per week.

Queenstown Hill

Queenstown Hill is a very central suburb of Queenstown. It has a lot of hotels and access to the Queenstown Hill Walking Track, a three-hour loop track that can be accessed via Belfast Terrace. This suburb is only a twenty-minute walk from the town centre, although the terrain is quite hilly.

Queenstown Hill has many beautiful lookout spots that give you a great view over Lake Wakatipu. This is an expensive suburb to rent in, although many houses have great views of the lakes and mountains to the south.

The average price of a 3-bedroom home in Queenstown Hill is $950 per week.

Kelvin Heights

The suburb of Kelvin Heights is located to the south of Queenstown and is known for being one of the most exclusive and expensive neighbourhoods in the area. Kelvin Heights is separated from Queenstown by the suburb of Frankton, and it is necessary to have a car to get to and from this suburb. There is a ferry that goes from Kelvin Heights to the town centre of Queenstown in just 15 minutes.

Kelvin Heights is part of the Queenstown Trail, one of the best cycling trails in the area. The Kelvin Peninsula is more well known for having luxury rental accommodation. The average price of a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment is $1,000 per week.

Arthurs Point

Located north of Queenstown, this suburb is separated from Queenstown by a drive up Gorge Road on the Shotover River. Arthurs Point is a popular spot for adrenaline activities. The Shotover Jet, Queenstown’s iconic bridge, and the Onsen Hot Pools are all close by tourist attractions. Arthur’s Point is close to Morning Star Reserve, the Moonlight Track Trailhead, and the Historic Tunnel Walk.

There are two-bedroom and three-bedroom homes for rent between $675 and $750 per week.

Frankton

Once considered a separate town to Queenstown, Frankton is now a centrally-located suburb in the Queenstown area. It’s now a busy shopping centre for Queenstown residents, and within this suburb, you’ll also find Queenstown airport, the historic Kawarau Falls Bridge, and Queenstown Events Centre. In summer, the Remarkables Market attracts many locals from all over the town.

Frankton has quite a few options when it comes to rentals. You’ll find one-bedroom apartments and three-bedroom houses not far from one another.

A one-bedroom apartment starts at $385 per week, while a two-bedroom home costs around $595 per week.

Things to do in Queenstown

There are plenty of things to do in Queenstown to keep you busy.

Get Your Adrenaline Fix

Queenstown is known as a haven for adrenaline junkies. Check out some of these favourite activities to get your blood pumping.

  • Hit the slopes. Coronet Peak and The Remarkables offer early bird 3-peak passes (including Mt Hutt in Canterbury) from $999. Day passes for Coronet Peak, and The Remarkables cost $139.
  • Bungee Jump. Leap headfirst into the Shotover River at the home of bungee jumping. Prices for jumps start from around $170.00.
  • Take a ride on the Shotover Jet. Experience the Shotover river like never before with a high-octane ride on the Shotover Jet. Tickets cost $129.

Get Your Chill On

Queenstown might be the adrenaline capital of New Zealand, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take it easy while you are there.

  • Visit the markets. There are several craft and farmers markets in the Queenstown District to check out each weekend. The Remarkables market in Frankton is a popular farmers market held on Saturdays. The Creative Queenstown Arts and Crafts Market are on Beach Street every Saturday. Entry is free, and the price of goods varies.
  • Visit the Onsen Hot Pools. With panoramic views of the Shotover River, every person should visit the Onsens at least once. And if you’re living in Queenstown, you might want to take your friends here for a trip when they visit. A dip in the onsen starts from $107 per person.

Queenstown regular events

The Great Kiwi Beer Festival - January

Explore New Zealand’s best craft breweries in Hagley Park. With 40 craft breweries and more than 35 food options, there’s something for every beer lover to enjoy. Tickets start at $49.90.

Gibbston Valley Winery Summer Concert - January

Set on the Gibbston winery, the Gibbston Valley Summer concert has an atmosphere like no other. Tickets cost around $125.00.

NZ Golf Open - February - March

The NZ Gold Open is known as an iconic sporting event. Spectator entry to the New Zealand Open at Millbrook Resort is free. In 2022, the event has been postponed until March due to Covid regulations.

Arrowtown Autumn Festival - April

Just a twenty-minute car ride from Queenstown sits Arrowtown. Celebrate the beautiful autumn colours, try local foods, and watch the parade over this four-day festival.

LUMA Southern Light Project - June

The LUMA Southern Light Project is held over a long weekend and brings together light sculpture, performance art and illuminated arts in the Queenstown Gardens. Tickets start from $10.

Winter Games NZ - August

See New Zealand’s best snow sports athletes at The Remarkables and Cardrona over 14 days of competition.

The cost of food in Queenstown

When figuring out the cost of living in Queenstown, don’t forget to factor in eating out.

The cost of eating

According to the comparison website Glimp, a single household shop per week in Christchurch comes out to $105. This is cheaper than an average shop in Auckland, which costs around $135.

The cost of dining out

Queenstown has a wide range of eateries that cater to many budgets. Here’s what you can expect to pay per person for a meal and drinks at some of the most popular restaurants.

  • Brunch: Bespoke Kitchen, Frank’s Eatery, Botswana Butchery = $16-$22
  • Cheap and cheerful: Fergburger, Margo’s Mexican,Tanoshi = $16-$30
  • Fine dining: Amisfield, The Grille, Flame = $60-$75

The cost of drinking

Queenstown has a vibrant bar and brewery scene. Here’s what you can expect to pay per person for a drink at some of the most popular bars in town.

  • Cocktails and spirits: The Gin Garden, Nest Bar and Kitchen = $14-$18/drink
  • Craft beer on tap: Ballarat Trading Company, Rhino’s Ski Shack = $10-$13/drink
  • Wine bars: The Winery, Attiqa / Sundeck, 1789 Wine & Jazz Lounge = $12-$70/glass

Getting around Queenstown

Queenstown can be a walkable place to live, but you might want to invest in transport since there are many things to do outside the confines of the town. Queenstown has five bus routes:

  • Sunshine Bay to Remarkables Shops return
  • Arthurs Point to Arrowtown return
  • Kelvin Heights to Frankton Flats return
  • Frankton Hub to Jacks Point return
  • Queenstown to Lake Hayes Estate return

Fares to get anywhere on the Orbus Queenstown network are $4 or $2 with a Bee card.

Parking in town

Queenstown can be a busy little town, and finding a place to park in the peak seasons can be challenging. Parking is available in town at the Boundary or Church Street carparks. Main Street and Ballarat St also have parking options. For a full rundown on places to park and their prices, visit the Experience Queenstown parking site.

The cost of living in Queenstown is just one factor you should consider before moving to this picturesque town.

Now that you know more about the cost of living in Queenstown, you can start planning your Move. At Wise Move , we can help you search for reputable moving companies in Queenstown and all over NZ. Wise Move has an extensive network of moving companies that can get you from your current home to Queenstown in no time.

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