Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand and part of Otago but the town and surrounding area needs a more detail. The early Maori came to the region in search of food, flax and especially greenstone. The coldness of winter so far south prevented them from setting up permanent settlements. It wasn't until the end of the 1850's that Europeans lived in the area. The first settlers, William Rees and Paul Tunzelmann von Alderflug, divided the lake between them and settled in for a peaceful life of farming. Their lives changed by the discovery of gold. Thousands scrambled to New Zealand's richest gold rush. The remains of that time can still be seen in Arrowtown, near Queenstown, where the primitive conditions of a mining shantytown have been preserved.
Queenstown itself, so named because it was "fit for a Queen", is nestled into the edge of Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand's third largest lake. The lake's steep slopes are dark with native forest, and the snowy tops of the Remarkables reflect in its still surface. One of the best ways to see Lake Wakatipu is cruising on the TSS Earnslaw, a lovingly maintained steamship from the beginning of last century.
Visitors can disembark for a taste of the high country farm life at the Walter Peak Homestead Restaurant. Walter Peak is one of several local farms that are delighted to share their wonderful lifestyle and hospitality with visitors, offering farm tours, demonstrations and horse trekking.
Queenstown must be seen from above. Skyline Gondolas carry
you to the top of Bob's Peak, 450m above the town, for magnificent
views of the lake and mountains. A function centre and a
number of adventure activities at the summit makes a creative
site for any event, and is only one of Queenstown's many
superb conference centres.
From a relaxing stroll to the summit of Queenstown Hill, or a stroll along the lakefront or through the Queenstown Gardens, to a weeklong alpine tramp, Lake Wakatipu is a walker's paradise. A popular energetic day trip is the Ben Lomand walkway, through subalpine and alpine vegetation to panoramic mountain views. The adventure climbers can leave at midnight on a clear summer's night and enjoy a champagne breakfast on the summit.
World-class golf courses, hunting and fishing, rifle ranges, mountain biking, parapenting, skiing and snowboarding, all draw thousands of people to Queenstown. The ski fields in the surrounding mountains are among the best in the world, and are not only well set up for beginners, but also has virgin snow a great runs to challenge the most experienced.
The most popular tramps begin at Glenorchy, at the head of the Lake Wakatipu, a 44km drive through some great New Zealand scenery. The Rees-Dart, Greenstone and Caples valleys, with their dramatic mountain backdrops, take several days to explore, and the Routeburn track is so famous that visitors walking it now have to book well in advance.
If you are travelling to Queenstown for Adventure, white water rafting and jet boating on several wild rivers will be your thing. The Shotover River cuts through Skippers Canyon, accessible only along a frighteningly narrow nerve racking ride by 4wd in. While in Queenstown you must jump off something with an oversized rubber band attached to you, Skipper's Canyon is one of A. J. Hackett Bungy's three spectacular bungy sites in Queenstown. This is one of the original bungy jump creators and the man who jumped off the Eiffel Tower to start bungy jumping.
In the area you can relax and look at a wide range of native birds in the Kiwi and Birdlife Park, set in native bush in downtown Queenstown. The park's top attractions are its kiwi and black stilt populations. Kiwis are big flightless birds that are New Zealand's icon, are severely prone to predators in the natural bush. The black stilt is the rarest wading bird in the world, with less than 200 birds left. Only breeding programmes such as that of the Kiwi and Bird life Park give these birds any chance of survival.
This is Queenstown
Queenstown's many cafes, bars, restaurants and casino make
it a lively place to be when the outdoor adventure ends
and the evening starts. The town is transformed into one
big party on New Year's Eve and during winter festival week
(around the beginning of July), when tens of thousands flock
Queenstown is a fascinating destination for every season and a must be seen location.
Helicopter Flight over Queenstown
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The Queenstown areas climate:
Average Summer temperature; 21c
Warmest months; December to March
Average Winter temperature; 9c
Average Hours of sunshine per year; Milford Sound 1800hrs, Alexandra 2025hrs
Average annual rainfall; Milford Sound 6500mm, Alexandra 360mm
Popular Queenstown area activities
Visit St Bathans, a tiny historic gold mining town with a
Skiing at, Cardrona, Treble Cone, Coronet Peak or The Remarkables
Bungy Jumping, Jet Boating, Rafting or any other adventure activity
Horse trek around the Arrowtown hills
Ride the Kingston flyer, a vintage steam train
Cruise Milford sound
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