Queenstown for Everyone
There are few places in the world that can justify lofty ambitions of being "fit for a Queen", and yet - the story goes - this is exactly what Queenstown was named for by early gold prospectors, who saw the beauty of the mountains, lakes and rivers, and declared the area "fit for a Queen."
New Zealand's most premier travel destination. Every year, travellers from all around the world come to Queenstown to experience a place like no other - part alpine resort, part lakeside-paradise, and part outdoor adventure capital of the world - Queenstown is a place that will put out the welcome-mat, no matter what your travel agenda may be.
With a population of about 28,000 permanent residents, Queenstown is one small town that swells to three times its size, as around 2 million visitors pass through the Queenstown area every year. Once an important area on the Pounamu (precious New Zealand green stone) trail for South Island Maori, Queenstown is an area that is steeped in legends and has a colourful history. One of those legends tells how Queenstown's central lake - Lake Wakatipu - was created by an evil giant who had abducted a young Mori woman. During the girl's rescue the giant was knocked over, and ever since then he lies sleeping in the depths of the lake while his beating heart makes the lake rise and fall. The discovery of gold in local rivers during the 1860s was the beginning of Europeans arriving to search for their fortunes in the Shotover and Arrow rivers - after the miners left for better prospects on the South Island's West Coast, Queenstown began its long journey to becoming one of the world's most attractive travel spots.
With its majestic mountain ranges, clear azure lake, numerous walking tracks, and fertile wine valleys, Queenstown is about as scenic as it gets. As there is something for everyone in Queenstown, taking advantage of everything that Queenstown has to offer could take a long time, so we have compiled some essential insider tips.
Extreme Adventure and the great Outdoors
The old saying 'there are a hundred ways to kill yourself in Queenstown' is true only in the sense that if it is extreme adventure you are looking for then you are spoilt for choice in Queenstown. From bungee jumping, to wild river rafting, abseiling and jet boating there is no shortage of places to get adventurous.
If you are not into survival of the fittest, but are still wanting to make the most of Queenstown's beautiful and unique natural environment, there are plenty of choices, from hiking to mountain biking - and of course, Queenstown's winter draw card - the plentiful snowfields.
Adventures for the adventurous:
Shotover Canyon Swing
If the thrill of jumping off a 109 metre high cliff-mounted platform while reaching speeds of up to 150 kph sounds like your kind of thing, then the Shotover Canyon Swing can offer you over 70 different solo and tandem jumps designed to bring out the daredevil in everyone.
35 Shotover St, Queenstown
Ph: +64 3 442 6990
Full of exciting speeds and turns through narrow canyons, the Shotover Jet is renowned for being an adrenalin - fuelled ride through the spectacular Shotover River Canyons.
Shotover Jet Beach, Gorge Rd, Arthurs Point, Queenstown
Ph: +64 3 442 8570
Serious Fun Riversurfing
Described as one of the most exciting, exhilarating and interactive water activities on the planet, Riversurfing takes you on a surfboard through the fast-flowing rapids of the historic Kawarau River, past scenic places such as shooting locations from the Lord of the Rings movie.
Ph: +64 3 442 5262
Adventures in Nature:
There are so many stunning mountain bike trails you may have trouble choosing which trek to pick. To take the hassle out of arranging which trail is best for you, try one of the leading bike operators who offer trails with guided tours, or help you get off the beaten track with Heli-biking and other adventures, which you can find at: www.ultimatequeenstown.com
Walking and Hiking
Queenstown is renowned for its many stunning walking tracks. Whether you want to take it easy or attempt the more challenging climbs, there is sure to be a track that will be just right for you.
To find out all about Queenstown walking tracks the New Zealand Department of Conservation provides a comprehensive list at: www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/otago/queenstown-wakatipu/
For guided walks and hiking tours try:
Ultimate Hikes New Zealand
The Station Building, Duke Street Entrance, Queenstown
Ph: +64 3 450-1940
Adventures in the Snow:
Queenstown is within easy reach of four major snowfields, which offer a range of snow activities from skiing, to snowboarding and tobogganing, catering for all different skill levels from complete novice to seasoned snow-adventurers.
The closest snowfield to Queesntown is only 20 minutes (16 km) drive from the town centre.
Ph: +64 3 442 4620
Set atop one of the most beautiful mountain ranges, this snowfield is only 35 minutes (23.7 km) drive from Queenstown.
Ph +64 3 450 1970
A favourite with skiers from all around the world, this snowfield is 1 hour (58 km) drive from Queenstown.
Ph: +64 3 4438880
The magnificent Treble Cone is well worth the 1.5 hour (90 km) drive from Queenstown.
Ph: +64 3 443 1406
All Shapes and Sizes - Queenstown fun for Families
If you are travelling with little ones then keeping the activity fun and interesting for their age range will be high on your agenda. Queenstown is the kind of place where children will find something fascinating to see on every corner - whether it is the snow-covered mountain tops peeking out behind the clouds, the variety of birdlife on the lake shore, or the buskers and entertainers that often line the downtown lakeside, there is plenty to make the younger travellers feel like Queenstown is their own special place. Whether summer or winter, the lakefront with its adjacent park and playground will make a perfect destination for hours of fun, and you will be spoilt for choice picking one of the many activities on offer around Queenstown.
Skyline is one of the many attractions that will rate highly for the whole family - the excitement of the gondola ride up the hill to "Bob's Peak" is just the beginning. If something educational is what you are after, then an exploration of the galaxy at Skyline Stargazing might be in order. If it's a bit of culture and history you are wanting then come and watch a Maori Kapa Haka show, or for those who are more adventurous, enjoy a thrilling ride in a three-wheeled luge car that takes you down the hill.
Brecon St, Queenstown
Ph: +64 3 4410085
Minus 5 Ice Bar
Come to Minus 5 Ice Bar for a truly frozen adventure, where you will dress like an Eskimo to explore everything made out of ice - furniture, sculptures, and even ice cold drinks that will please old and young alike.
Steamer Wharf, Beach Street, Queenstown
Ph: +64 3 4426050
Queenstown Ice Arena
Queenstown Ice arena provides fun on the ice for both novices and seasoned skaters. Or else, grab a hot drink and wait out the fun at the alpine inspired lounge, overlooking the skating rink.
Ph: +64 3 4418000
A perfect introduction to skiing is offered at Snowfarm, where it's all about fun in the snow. Here you can try cross-country skiing, tubing and sledding, and even get skiing lessons at their ski-school.
Ph: + 64 3 4437542
Queenstown for the Soul
If rest and relaxation are on your agenda during your stay at Muna Moke, then you have come to the right place, as Queenstown - with its magical landscape and scenic beauty - naturally lends itself for your holiday to be an exercise in relaxation.
A small hive for health and wellbeing, Yoga Nadi is the place you come to when you want to nurture your body and soul. Offering a variety of Yoga classes suitable from beginner to advanced, as well as massage and other holistic treatments, Yoga Nadi will give you the space to rediscover a piece of serenity.
Level 2/50 Stanley St, Queenstown
Ph: + 64 3 409 0318
Onsen Hot Pools
Located on a cliff-side at the bottom of Coronet Peak Ski Field this hot pool complex offers private cedar-enclosed pool rooms overlooking breath-taking panoramic views, and special pamper packages tailor made to your requirements.
160 Arthurs Point Road, Arthurs Point, Queenstown
Ph: +64 3 442 5707
Queenstown Wine Tours
A trip into the beautiful wine valley of Queenstown - where some of New Zealand's finest wines are produced - will go a long way towards relaxing your senses. These tours offers an insight into the wine making history and practices of the region and will give you the chance to sample some of the best wine and food that Queenstown has to offer.
Queenstown Wine Trail
Ph: + 64 3 441 3990
Eat, Drink and be Merry
If you are looking for a place that truly understands good food and drink, then Queenstown is the place for you. With a dizzying array of choices, the question of where to eat is easily answered - a short stroll through the town centre, or along the lake front should do plenty to whet your appetite, as you will find that there is something for everyone, and every occasion. Here are just a few of Queenstown's finest:
Blue Kanu - Offering a unique mixture of Pacific and Asian cuisine amidst a funky, beautiful backdrop complete with a hula-hut style bar, Blue Kanu is perfect for lunch, dinner or drinks with Tapas style small dishes.
16 Church Street, Queenstown
Ph: +64 3 442 6060
Great Pub Food
Pog Mahone's - A Queenstown institution, Pog Mahone's offers authentic Irish cuisine complimented by contemporary New Zealand dishes and the famous Stonegrill dining experience amidst a rustic Irish Pub atmosphere.
14 Rees St, Queenstown
Ph: +64 3 4425382
Intimate Fine Dining
The Bunker - Intimate fine dining, a beautiful atmosphere and late-night cocktails make this place one of Queenstown's most ambient dining spots.
Cow Lane, Queenstown Central
Ph: +64 3 4418030
Family Dining with a Twist
Skyline Restaurant - Take the gondola up to this legendary restaurant, perched at the top of "Bob's Peak" and you will enjoy not just spectacular views over all of Queenstown, but also a delicious six course buffet for the whole family.
Gondola base is at Brecon St, Queenstown
Ph: +64 3 4410085
Breakfast, Lunch and Snacks the Queenstown Way
The Bathhouse - Situated right on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, the Bathhouse is a historical Queenstown landmark, that now offers Tapas and home-cooked baking in very special surroundings.
Marine Parade, Queenstown
Ph: + 64 3 4425625
Sky Bar - If you're looking for good drinks and good times, head to Queenstown's renowned Sky Bar, where a solid crew of DJs will keep you dancing until the small hours of the night.
Camp Street, Queenstown
Ph: +64 3 4424283
Muna Moke Queenstown
House in Queenstown
High up in the clouds, eye level with the majestic mountain ranges surrounding Queenstown's Lake Wakatipu, you will find the Hermit's Secret - or as it is known in Maori - Muna Moke. This three bedroom house, perched among pine forest and native bush takes its name from being in one of Queenstown's premium locations - just off the scenic road from Queenstown to Glenorchy, and only ten minutes from the main town centre, Muna Moke is a secret that is worth keeping.