Travel to Queenstown and you’ve reached New Zealand’s ultimate four-season lake and alpine center.
Surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of Lake Wakapitu, Queenstown has established a reputation as a international jet set location, the adrenaline and film capital of the South Island and of course, the Otago region’s wine center.
Whatever you do, whatever your style, Queenstown will feed your imagination, fuel your passions and revitalize your spirit. From bungy jumping to wine trails, jet boating to tramping, dining out to skiing, the tricky part is extending your stay to try and fit everything in.
Born as an 1860’s gold mining camp, over 150 years later Queenstown has a compact and sophisticated downtown area tucked into a picturesque bay. Dwarfed by the surrounding mountains, it is a photographer’s delight as there are amazing views from almost any vista. There’s also a permanent buzz in the downtown area where you’ll find a lively café/bar scene and excellent shopping.
Queenstown rarely sleeps. Sophisticated wine bars, live jazz, top DJ’s, long summer nights in a garden bar or après ski, there’s more than 160 licensed bars and cafés in downtown Queenstown. Your taste buds will be treated to a plethora of international cuisines and local delicacies savored by locals and visitors alike.
The main dining precinct runs from Steamer Wharf up Beach Street, splitting into Shotover and Church Streets and includes all the malls and alleyways in between. The gondola can transport you up to a dining room at the peak with an awesome view of the Wakatipu basin. The ultimate in taste sensations, there are more than 150 eateries to choose from in Queenstown and neighboring Arrowtown, not counting the winery restaurants between Lake Hayes and Gibbston.
The region’s gallery and craft workshop trail would take days to do it justice, yet a few hours can happily be spent watching jewelry makers at work, taking an artist-hosted studio tour or eyeing up local paintings and sculptures in some fabulous galleries. Every Saturday morning a craft market at the wharf offers all sorts of artisan products from traditional greenstone carved necklaces to hand-painted ceramics.
Home to the world’s first commercial jet boating, bungy jump and river surfing, Queenstown’s reputation as an “adventure capital of the world” is well deserved. From the mild to the wild, the expansive natural physical environment offers superb air, water and land based activities – tramping, sailing, hiking, climbing, fishing, cycling, golfing, off-roading, skiing or mountain biking.
Queenstown is also a major center for snow sports in New Zealand, with people from all over the country and many parts of the world travelling to ski at the four main ski fields – Cardrona Alpine Resort, Coronet Peak, the Remarkables and Treble Cone. Cross country skiing is also available at the Waiora Snow Farm located near the village of Cardrona.
Queenstown and the surrounding area contains many locations used in the filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as the film X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Our preferred resorts while in Queenstown are the lux Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa, the Hotel St. Moritz, Browns Boutique Hotel and the Novotel Queenstown Lakeside. There is also the award-winning Millbrook Resort, Copthorne Resort Lakefront, Rydges Lakeland Queenstown, the Heritage Queenstown and the Crown Plaza Queenstown.
The lake resorts of Queenstown, Wanaka and Te Anau share an adventurous spirit and natural splendor. Queenstown and Wanaka are separated by just one hour’s drive over the Crown Range; they are much loved alpine playgrounds with subtly different atmospheres. The resort town of Te Anau, about a 2-hour drive around the lake, is an ideal base for exploring the Fiordland National.
There are various apocryphal accounts of how the town was named, the most popular suggesting that a local gold digger exclaimed that the town was “fit for Queen Victoria”. It is now known for its commerce-oriented tourism, popular with international jet-setters and New Zealand travelers alike.