On a hot day, cooling off with a dip in a lake, river, sea, or pool is one of the greatest pleasures in life. Queenstown is far from the sea but offers plenty of opportunities for swimming in and around the town. Swimming in Queenstown is mostly a summer activity but public and private pools open all year around. Plunging into the lake in mid-winter is also quite popular. Yes, there’s something for everyone here. Here are some of the places you can swim, plunge, get wet, dive, snorkel, and bathe in Queenstown throughout the year.
The Southern Lakes and rivers are cold. There’s not a huge difference in water temperature between winter and summer. Many people use wetsuits when they swim in the lake to prevent hypothermia.
A few years ago the swim part of the Iron Man (the international one) was planned for Lake Wakatipu but moved to Lake Wanaka because of the former’s cooler temperatures. If hardy Ironman athletes can’t handle it don’t expect to flap around in the water for too long without getting a chill
Alpine Aqualand Swimming Pool
spot and a great place for adults and kids alike to burn off the excess energy if the ski fields are closed or the weather is bad.
Alpine Aqualand at $8 per adult and $4 per child. Multiple-visit passes and season passes are available too.
Further afield there’s a pool in Arrowtown and one at Wanaka also. Both pools are managed by the Queenstown Lakes District council. Both of these pools are within an hour’s drive of Queenstown so if, for some reason, the pools and swimming spots close by don’t suit, you can try these also.
Little Thailand Rock Jump
This little spot is found on Lake Wakatipu, on the road out towards Glenorchy. It’s pretty tricky to find so use a GPS, Google Maps, or a local guide to locate the right spot. Once you’ve found it though, you’ll have 5 to 15m cliffs to jump from into cool, clear green water.
As it’s not a tourist friendly spot the chances are you’ll have the place to yourself. Enjoy a little piece of Thailand in Queenstown, without the humidity.
Don’t go alone as accidents do happen.
Onsen Hot Pools
Nobody would go as far as saying that lounging around in hot pools is swimming, but it is definitely a form of bathing. Despite the fact that one doesn’t dunk one’s head underwater, bathing in hot pools is therapeutic and it positively affects wellbeing.
The setting at Onsen Hot Pools is pretty spectacular. With uninterrupted views of the Shotover River, natural surroundings, sitting in a hot tub feels very close to nature. In contrast to many activities in Queenstown, apart from maybe the Spas, Onsen’s Hot Pools are all about relaxing. Put on the brakes, forget the adrenaline rush, and relax in hot steamy water while thinking about all the strenuous activity you did that day. This is the perfect spot to unwind after the intensity of skiing, bungee jumping or bar hopping.
Onsen is open every day from 10:00 to 23:00hs. Note that you really need to reserve in advance as this place is popular.
Getting there is easy. When booking request the free shuttle which picks you up from the centre of town 30 minutes before your scheduled session. Wait at the bus stop on the corner of Camp St and Shotover St.
You can also drive and it takes just 10 minutes.
Swimming Lake Wakatipu
ot only dangerous but it affects the work of local businesspeople. The lake is huge (it’s actually New Zealand’s longest lake) and there are plenty of places to jump in.
Along the road to Glenorchy you can find hundreds of shallow spots (which will have warmer water), inlets, and bays.
Back in 2012, Ben Campbell-MacDonald swam the lake from tip to tip, completing the task in 18 and a half hours. The swimmer used a thick wetsuit to combat the cold.