Queenstown New Zealand.
The Activity capital of the Southern Hemisphere.
Queenstown is nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Southern Alps . So named because "it was fit for Queen Victoria". Today Queenstown is recognised as New Zealand's premier visitor destination and as one of the friendliest cities in the world. Queenstown's reputation as the Adventure Capital of the world is well earned. Earth, water and air, there is something to thrill any adventure seeker as you will find out on our "local activities" page.
Queenstown is equally well-endowed with a great variety of relaxing activities including wine trails, art trails, museums, shopping (the town centre is easily navigated by foot) and much more. Centrally located, Queenstown serves as a gateway to Fiordland and destinations such as Te Anau, Wanaka , Milford and Doubtful Sounds. Other destination spots such as Glenorchy, Arrowtown are all within an easy drive. (Most details on our site)
The activity options in and around here are almost endless, whatever the weather or time of year. You can throw yourself into the many tours and adventure trips available; enjoy shopping and the constant day and night-time entertainment provided by the restaurants, pubs and nightclubs; try any one of a dozen or more sports and activities, from tramping to bungy jumping; or simply pack a picnic lunch and find a quiet spot to take in the beautiful surroundings.
With the backdrop of the magnificent Remarkable Ranges and Lake Wakatipu, you can familiarise yourself with the Queenstown area by taking a trip on the Lady of the Lake the steamer TSS Earnslaw, or ride the Skyline Gondola, which rises 446 metres up the steep slopes of Bob's Peak to a restaurant near the summit. From here, there are magnificent views over the town and across the lake to the surrounding mountains.
An unusual feature of Lake Wakatipu is the regular rise and fall of the water level - as much as 12 centimetres every 5 minutes or so. This oscillation is caused by wind, or variations in atmospheric pressure. The Maori however, have a different explanation, based on the full name they gave the lake, Waka-tipua-wai-maori, meaning 'the freshwater trough where the giant lies'. On the wooded peninsula which forms the west side of the town is Queenstown Bay, which has a garden reserve, rimmed with fir trees, roses, lily ponds, a skating rink and tennis courts, amusement park, lawn bowls and a fitness trail.
There is a walk up Queenstown Hill to overlook the town, and many longer walks and tramps, such as the 3 hour Sawpit Gully track. It is also the base for the Queenstown, Hollyford & Routeburn Walks, which take 2 or 3 days through rich beech forests and natural wilderness. Golfers will enjoy playing a round on one of the most picturesque courses in the world, Kelvin Heights.
The way up the Shotover was difficult because of the precipitous rocks that hemmed it into a narrow gorge, the Skipper's Canyon. Undaunted, the miners constructed a spectacular, dangerous and winding bridle track for their horses, which is now the Skipper's Road. Be warned: most rental companies will not insure their vehicles for the road up Skippers Canyon. You'll enjoy the experience far more by taking a bus or 4 wheel drive excursion. Chimneys and foundations are reminders of the many buildings that once lined the road. At Pincher's Bluff, road workers were lowered down the cliff face (image above) to forge a road through with only hammers and chisels. A suspension bridge, 100 metres over the river bed, leads to an abandoned township, which in the 1860s was a thriving gold-mining settlement. Some of the buildings are being restored by the Department of Conservation, and the original schoolhouse has been renovated. The area is a museum of mining relics, and the early settlers planted more traditional English trees.
At the head of Lake Wakatipu is Glenorchy. This small town is a great base for the outdoors. The Dart and Rees Rivers both drain into the lake, offering fine lake and river fishing. Fishing gear can be hired to guided or approved fishermen, and the season is open all year. Expert guides can arrange hunting trips for deer and goats, and there is duck shooting in season. You can try horse trekking, maybe combined with a fishing or canoeing trip. From October to December, windsurfing conditions are so good that world records have been set here. There is also canoeing and water skiing, and some challenging nearby peaks for climbing.
There's one thing that most visitors to Queenstown find there's not enough of, and that's time. So, make sure you allow plenty of time to enjoy all that this unique town has to offer. If you haven't yet, check out our outdoor activities page.