Queenstown, in the South of New Zealand is fast developing as the adventure capital of the world. Stunning scenery, mountain ranges, lakes and rivers provide perfect venues for all kinds of adventure sports including some excellent Queenstown skiing. Queenstown is in the South of New Zealand situated next to Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by mountains and beautiful scenery.
Queenstown is a “tourism” city and provides not just adventure but wine tours, sightseeing, restaurants, spas, museums, shops and more. Over a million visitors come each year which creates a real buzz to the town, with shops open late, active bars and restaurants and lots of accommodation for all budgets.
If you feel like a little luxury in town have a look at Alpen View Luxury Villa with its spectacular views of the lake and mountains. Or you can find a variety for Queenstown hotels for a great price.
Queenstown is alive with restaurants and a diversity of dining opportunities due to its many visitors. Due to the diversity of international visitors from all parts so you will find the complete range of dining opportunities. The prices varies from cheap in the food courts to expensive in the excellent fine dining restaurants.
Queenstown is a much visited tourist destination and so has a full range of shops for browsing. Locally produced fine wool means some good buys. Good also for outdoor clothing, local jewellery made from Paua. Paua is a type of abalone and comes with beautiful blue green colours. In Queenstown you will find most things and all located fairly centrally around the Queenstown Mall and side streets.
Having a car in Queenstown is important as all the attractions require transport to reach and public transport is very poor. For the ski resorts you have to drive up to them and an easy drive from Queenstown. Click the box below to compare Queenstown car rental rates between the main car hire companies. This system allows you to search and then book with payment not made until you take the car. Many visitors fly into Christchurch and rent a car at Christchurch airport and takes about 5 hours to drive to Queenstown and Christchurch car rental type Christchurch in the box.
The Skyline Gondola rises above Queenstown and provides panoramic views. A restaurant serves a full range of meals and snacks. Just above the Gondola is the popular luge which has tracks for the beginner and the advanced and accessed by a chair lift that starts at the top of the Gondola.
At the top of the Skyline Gondola is a luge with tracks for beginners and the adventurous each is 800 metres long. A luge is three wheeled cart that you steer and break.
Kiwi Haka is a Maori Cultural Experience located at the top of the Gondola and has a traditional Maori village. There is an evening performance and dinner from 7pm – 10pm where you can experience the Haka, the poi display and traditional music.
Lake Hayes is named after Donald Hay who gave it the name. A mirror like lake with stunning scenery about 15 minutes drive form Queenstown on the way to Arrowtown. Fishing is possible but only at slow speeds and trolling must be without a motor.
Gold Field Mining Centre
At the entrance to the Kawarau Gorge one of the original mining locations still operates as a tourist venture. A guided tour shows the workings and provides stories about the history and characters. You can try your hand at gold panning. It is located on the Queenstown – Cromwell highway at Kawarau gorge.
A J Hackett put Queenstown on the map with the world’s first commercial bungy jump at Kawaru Bridge, a 43 metre jump. Since then two other bungy jumps have been opened by AJ. The Ledge Bungy a 47 metre fall located just above Queenstown. For the brave the Nevis Highwire at 134 metre provides an awesome drop as you jump off a high wire suspended between two mountains.
A more recent activity is the Canyon Swing. This is a giant rope swing suspended across the Shotover River. You leap off the cliff and then wing in a giant arc reaching speeds of 150 kmph. The immediate freefall is 60 metre and the whole arc is 200 metres. The price as for bungy jumps goes down each time you swing and so you can try doing it forwards, backwards, sit in a chair and a total of 10 options is provided.
At 3750m Mount is New Zealand's highest mountain. It towers above snow-clad peaks that make up the Mount Cook National Park. On one side of Mount Cook is the mighty Tasman Glacier, a 30km giant and one of the longest Glaciers outside the Himalayas. Mt Cook is approximately 260km and a 4 hour drive from Queenstown.
Queenstown has lots of opportunities for walking and tramping, both gentle and long distance. There are walks around the lakeshore, up the mountains and along the rivers.
Quieter than Milford Sound and made up of about 100km of waterways. The trip to Doubtful Sound involves crossing Lake Manapouri and is possible as a long day trip from Queenstown. Doubtful Sound was sighted by Captain Cook in 1770 but he “doubted” whether if entered he could turn round and make it back out to sea.
Milford Sound is world famous for its scenery and steep cliffs. A day trip is possible but is a long day from Queenstown. Cruise boats depart regularly and often an abundance of wildlife is seen. The drive to Milford Sound is about 4½ hours from Queenstown. You can fly from Queenstown as a quicker but more expensive option.
Glenorchy is located at the head of Lake Wakatipu and the place to start the Routeburn Track and other tracks. It is the gateway for Mount Aspiring National Park. A good area for windsurfing, sailing and fishing. Glenorchy is a 45 minute drive along the lake. A good stopping point is Bennett’s Bluff Lookout with amazing views. Glenorchy became part of the Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings.
Kingston is at the south end of Lake Wakatipu and about an hour’s drive away. A major attraction is the Kingston Flyer Steam Train which started in 1878 and carried passengers from Gore to Kingston from where they could catch the steamer to Queenstown. The Kingston Flyer still runs today on a 14km section and some carriages date to 1898. Kingston is also the star of the Northern Southland Heritage Trail and a good place for walking trails.
Skippers Canyon is approached by the Skippers Road which twists around the steep cliffs. The road is very dangerous and so banned to all hire vehicles! Entry for the road is therefore by tour. The area now hosts a number of adventure sports such as rafting, horse riding, mountain bikes and helicopter rides.
Te Anau is the base town for both Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound and is a scenic 2 hour drive from Queenstown. Te Anau sits on the Lake Anau which is New Zealand’s second largest lake. The main attraction is the Te Anau Gloworm caves reached by boat from Te Anau and is an underground adventure involving both walking and boat to marvel at the glowworm grotto.
Wanaka is small township about 90 minutes north of Queenstown and a destination in its own right. About an hour from Queenstown is a gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park famous for its glaciers and climbing opportunities. The clear beautiful Lake Wanaka sets a very pleasant scene for the town. Wanaka has like Queenstown an active tourism industry and lots of tours and adventures are possible from here. Wanaka has four ski areas Treble Cone, Cardrona, the Snow Farm and the Snow Park and a lot of activities that can be organised.
Queenstown is 310 metres above sea level but surrounded by high mountains which means temperature vary all depending on the altitude you reach. The Summer is hot and dry and runs from December to February with an average between 19°C and 30°C. The Autumn runs from March to May and has clear but cool days with the temperature in the 10°C - 24°C° range. The Winter (June - August) is a ski season and is between 3°C - 10°C but much colder in the ski areas. The Spring is more changeable and ranges between 9°C and 21°C .
In recent years the planting that began in the 1980’s are taking fruit. Some world famous vineyards now produce the must have “Central Otago” wine. The vineyards are the most southern in the world but has a distinct similarity to the Burgundy region. The vineyards are at high altitude and subject to cold winters and hot dry summers which makes for some very skilled wine producers to cope with this variation. The main areas are just north of Arrowtown and include the Gibbston Valley and Felton Road areas. Many vineyards have wine tastings and restaurants attached. There are over 45 wineries in Central Otago. Listed below are some great tours of vineyards, just click the link to find out more details and to book.
Eguide is a digital travel publishing group that produces eGuides for 150 travel destinations. In New Zealand there are travel eGuides for Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch. Ski eGuide also has full details on New Zealand ski resorts and Hotel eGuide the best hotel deals in New Zealand.