Difference between revisions of "Queenstown (New Zealand)"
Revision as of 13:52, 4 December 2012
Queenstown  is a scenic town in the South Island of New Zealand. It is one of the most beautiful regions and offers year round attractions. The town sits on the edge of Lake Wakatipu and is surrounded by the Southern Alps. The most remarkable sight is the Remarkables, which is a saw-toothed range of mountains on the opposite side of the lake from the town.
Queenstown lies at the outlet to Lake Wakatipu, one of Otago and New Zealand's most scenic lakes. It caters for tourists on a wide range of budgets, from backpackers to luxury tourists. In many respects Queenstown can be a tourist trap. However, reasonable prices and bargains can be found for those prepared to look for them.
Queenstown is a party town during high seasons. if you plan on getting a good nights sleep, then you might consider staying slightly out of town. It is common to see people on the street up to 5AM, coming back from the disco or pub. If you are looking for a relaxing scenic holiday, Wanaka (an hour drive) is smaller and more tranquil (with less of a party atmosphere).
First time visitors to Queenstown frequently struggle with the where to stay question. Queenstown has several neighbourhoods, each with their own advantages in terms of access & attractions
Visitors attracted by Queenstown’s nightlife may prefer a downtown location with easy access to Queenstown’s 50 + bars
Queenstown is however widely regarded as an activity-based town. Those less interested in the bright lights will prefer one of the neighbourhoods surrounding downtown. These neighbourhoods promise the best of both worlds – easy access to downtown from a more peaceful base
The Glenorchy Road area offers luxury lodges, bed & breakfasts & vacation rentals with lake views & a sense of wilderness
The Kingston Road area has luxury lodges with mountain views & vacation rentals with lake views
The Gibbston Valley has a range of accommodations set amongst vineyards
Those attracted by history & culture tend to gravitate to Queenstown’s historic precinct – Arrowtown
Globally, the historic precincts of cities have that 'x' factor. Why? Well, while cities heave & grow to the horizon becoming homogeneous in the process, the historic precincts become more distinctive & desirable for their character, charm....oh & peace!
Most travellers are 'romantics at heart' & love to rekindle memories of simpler times. Authentic, relaxing & peaceful describe the ambiance of Arrowtown. A refreshing contrast to downtown locales
Arrowtown has an excellent range of luxury accommodation. Less than 5-minutes walk leads to more than 20 restaurants, cafes, bars & brew-pubs
Just a few of the other attractions of the historic precinct are:
- The Queenstown Trail – A looping 100 km + [60 mile] cycling & hiking trail around alpine lakes & riverside to vineyard restaurants - 3 golf courses - 2 luxury spa’s - 7-minute drive to entrance to Coronet Peak Ski Resort - 7-minute drive to Japanese baths - 7-minute drive to Shotover Jet - 7-minute drive to whitewater rafting - 10 minute drive to Gibbston Valley vineyards - 10 minute drive horse riding
The Mirror. The first of two free community newspapers to hit the streets (on Wednesday morning), The Mirror is a great source for catching up on all things that are happening in the entire Central Otago area. In addition to the news articles, there is a weekly restaurant review and profile of a band or DJ that will be headlining a one of Queenstown's many nightspots that week.
Lakes Weekly Bulletin is an additional source of second hand items for sale, community noticeboard, employment vacancies, film/gig guide, flatmates and rentals.
The town and surrounding area was originally settled by Europeans and a substanial Chinese population for gold mining and farming in 1860s. After the decline of goldmining, Queenstown became a sleepy rural town, popular as a summer getaway.
In 1947, New Zealand's first commercial skifield, Coronet Peak, opened and since then the town has grown into a world class tourist resort. There are now 4 commercial skifields within easy driving of Queenstown.
Queenstown has an international airport which is served by Qantas, Air New Zealand, Pacific Blue and Jetstar. There are connecting flights from all New Zealand's major centres and, during the ski season, direct flights daily from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in Australia, in summer this reduces to three times a week from Sydney.
Queenstown airport is known for its spectacular approach, the snow-covered mountains of New Zealand's Southern Alps surround it on four sides and there is a complicated path to the runway. Low cloud and cold weather can close the runway, especially in winter, resulting in cancelled flights, however new precision approach equipment has considerably reduced this.
Queenstown airport also provides for private jets and other aircraft, and there is a huge number of helicopter take-offs and landings each day. Scenic flights and heli-skiing are a popular attraction for the region.
From the airport, the cheapest way into town is on the Connectabus service 11/12, which runs every 20 minutes (check that it's going straight into town and not via Arrowtown) and costs $6 one way - pay the driver when boarding. Taxis into town cost about $20-25 while shared shuttle vans work out almost as cheap as the bus if you can get a big enough group together and will take you straight to your accommodation.
National bus operator InterCity Coachlines  and Newmans Coach Lines  provide daily services in and out of Queenstown with connections throughout the South Island. Fares start from just $1 and can be purchased online or via numerous local ticketing agents including the i-SITE information network. Services arrive and depart from the Athol Street car park located in the main retail shopping area.
National sightseeing tour operator GreatSights New Zealand  has daily tour options to Queenstown from Christchurch via Mt Cook and operates daily services to the West Coast including (Fox Glacier Franz Josef and Greymouth.
Many international tour companies carry holidaymakers into Queenstown by coach.
Allow a full day from Christchurch (about 6 hours driving). The drive is spectacular, through the diverse countryside of New Zealand's South Island, with vast plains, rolling hills, multicoloured lakes and mountain passes. Major international and all national rental car and campervan companies have offices in Queenstown.
The Queenstown town centre itself is small enough to walk around. Parking is at a premium and can be hard to find during the day. For further distance a bus or car is necessary.
There are a number of tour operators to be found in downtown Queenstown. Transport from downtown Queenstown to adventure activities is often part of the tour package. Some operators may pick up from your tourist accommodation.
A number of boat tours depart from the Queenstown Wharf at the bottom of the Mall - including the historic steamship TSS Earnslaw, affectionately known as the "Lady of the Lake".
There is now a water taxis service.
Queenstown also has a small local bus service operated by Connectabus. There are three routes - the most useful for tourists being services 10/11 which run every 30 minutes to the airport and the Remarkables Park shopping centre and alternate services continue to Arrowtown. Fares are expensive e.g. $6 single/$10 return from the airport to Queenstown, or $13 for a network day pass. All buses stop on Camp Street outside the O'Connell shopping mall.
A door to door night bus night bus now operates in the weekends from in front of O'Connell shopping mall to Frankton, Arrowtown and Kelvin Heights. The service runs every hour on the hour between the hours of 12 midnight to 5AM
The spectacular mountain scenery and Lake Wakatipu dominate the view from many parts of town. Most attractions in Queenstown make the most of the view. It is enough reason to spend time in Queenstown if you choose not to do anything else.
One of the best views is from the top of Bob's Peak reached by the Skyline Gondola . Breathtaking views of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables mountain range and across Lake Wakatipu to Cecil and Walter Peaks. It's truly magnificent and awe-inspiring!
The drive to Glenorchy, 50 minutes north up Lake Wakatipu, is rated as one of the top scenic drives in the world. The Gibbston Valley wine area is 20 minutes drive from Queenstown by the ancient Kawarau Gorge.
Arrowtown, just 15-minutes from Queenstown is at centre of the Queenstown Trail. More than 100 km (60 mi) of trails await cyclists & walkers. Here are some ideas for a visit. Day 1, bike/walk to Gibbston Valley vineyards. Day 2, circumnavigate Lake Hayes, stopping at art galleries & cafes en route. Day 3, a spectacular route following Lake Wakatipu to Jacks Point. Enjoy lunch at The Clubhouse basking in the sun beneath the Remarkables Mountains
Those looking for more technical challenges want to consider visiting Macetown, A ghost-town from the goldrush era. One of New Zealand’s classic mountain bike rides. More than a dozen river crossings keeps riders focused!
The town centre contains many tourist and souvenir stores, and bargains can be hard to come by.
Top quality knitwear, Sheepskin and Possum Fur products, Greenstone (Jade) and bone carvings, and fine New Zealand wine is available for a price.
Outdoor suppliers are plentiful, with equipment for trampers (hikers), mountain bikers, skiiers and snowboarders, and many others who use Queenstown as the launching-pad for expeditions into the nearby National Parks.
There are a handful of convenience food stores in the town centre, most open until midnight and beyond. Two large supermakets are on the outskirts of town.
Most of the stores in Queenstown are open until 8PM or 9PM, 7 days a week.
There are a huge variety of numerous eating establishments to be found in Queenstown, from all-hours takeaways to fine dining. Reservations for dinner are important at the best places most times of the year, and most nights of the week.
Fine restaurants serve world-class seafood (local mussels, oysters and deep sea fish such as blue cod), game, red meat (farmed venison, lamb and beef).
The wineries of the Gibbston Valley (20 minutes drive) are open for lunch.
Nightlife in Queentown is largely about drinking, and there are over a hundred licenced premises in Queenstown, with most in the downtown area. Most bars have licenses to close at 4AM and it is lively most nights.
There are cheap bars popular with backpackers and young locals, and sophisticated and expensive wine, cocktail and imported beer bars. Many bars and pubs have sunny outdoor courtyards in the summer months, and roaring open fires in the winter. Major sports events are normally to be found on screen somewhere in Queenstown.
There are two small casinos for adult entertainment.
Many bars do offer food.
Accommodation ranges from backpacker camps and inns to luxury lodges, bed and breakfasts, apartments, and hotels.
Queenstown is a relatively safe town. However, visitors should still take care to ensure their own personal safety. Many of the other people in town are also visitors.
The most common offense committed against tourists in the Queenstown are car break-ins. Remember to always lock your doors and do not leave valuables in your vehicle or unattended.
Although limited in number, the police in the Queenstown area are intolerant of disorderly behaviour and are prepared to arrest for quite minor offences. As with anywhere in New Zealand, they have no tolerance for possession of drugs.
Other emergency services in the area operate on a volunteer basis.
Rental car companies have restrictions in their rental agreements to prevent their vehicles being operated on some high country roads. New Zealand's ski-field roads also take many visitors by surprise, but driving to suit the conditions will considerably reduce any risk.
There are several internet cafes to be found in Queenstown with cheap rates. Some hotels charge plenty for internet, others offer it free. most of the town is covered by WiFi. Pick up a prepaid card at reasonable rates.
Visit the Fox Glacier the biggest and less crowded west coast glacier. Located approximately 4.5 hours drive north of Queenstown.