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Queenstown (New Zealand)

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For visitor information and brochures, call into the official Queenstown i-SITE office [http://www.queenstown-vacation.com] on the corner of Shotover & Camp Streets. Ph 03 442 4100  Email: [email protected]
For visitor information and brochures, call into the official Queenstown i-SITE office [http://www.queenstown-vacation.com] on the corner of Shotover & Camp Streets. Ph 03 442 4100  Email: [email protected]
[[Image:Remarkables.jpg|thumb|250px|right|View from the top]]
[[Image:Remarkables.jpg|thumb|250px|right|View from the top]]

Revision as of 13:52, 4 December 2012

The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown

Queenstown [30] 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

Local Newspapers

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.[31]


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.

Get in

By plane

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.

By bus

Daily services from Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill, Te Anau, Wanaka and the West Coast (Fox Glacier Franz Josef Greymouth) .

National bus operator InterCity Coachlines [32] and Newmans Coach Lines [33] 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 [34] 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.

There are also a number of smaller shuttle operators who connect to and from Queenstown including 'nakedbus.com' [35] and 'Atomic Shuttles' [36].

Many international tour companies carry holidaymakers into Queenstown by coach.

By car

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.

Get around

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".[37]

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.

Night Bus

A door to door night bus night bus[38] 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
This provides a economical alternative to taxis.


Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown

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 [39]. 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.

For visitor information and brochures, call into the official Queenstown i-SITE office [40] on the corner of Shotover & Camp Streets. Ph 03 442 4100 Email: [email protected]


View from the top
  • Skiing & snowboarding - Four world class ski fields
  • Touring - the scenery surrounding Queenstown makes for excellent touring, with lakes, mountains and bush around vineyards and farmland
  • Queenstown Garden Tours, [1]. operate small group garden tours to 3 private residential gardens in & around Queenstown during spring & summer.
  • Bungy Jumping
  • AJ Hackett Bungy, [2]. first commercial bungy jump established on the Kawarau Bridge
  • Jet boats. Exciting jetboat rides have been operating near Queenstown for 50 years. The jet boats carry passengers at high speeds over shallow waters performing stunts like 360 degree pirouettes in the water.
  • Shotover Jet. The original Shotover Jet is billed as "The World's Most Exciting Jetboat Ride"
  • Luge [41] is fun filled gravity ride for all ages and abilities. You control your own gravity propelled vehicle down the track. Choose from two tracks, one scenic and gentle, the other advanced and adventurous.
  • Horseback riding. There are some great tours that pick up in Queenstown and take you into the valleys, through rivers, etc. Pamphlets can be collected at any hotel or hostel to explore the dozens of horseback tours
  • Parasailing
  • Mountaineering
  • NZONE Skydive, 35 Shotover St, 0800 DROPZONE (). First commercial tandem skydive company in New Zealand, operating since 1990.
  • Parapenting - launching yourself off a hill with a parachute to ride the "thermals"
  • White water rafting
  • Riverboarding - Swimming through rapids on a bodyboard.
  • Mad Dog Riverboarding, 37 Shotover Street, +64 442-7797, [3]. The most action packed and personally challenging white water activity you can do!
  • Scenic flights - the helicopter and light aircraft flights around Queenstown and to Milford Sound and Fiordland are rated amongst the best in the world.
  • Glenorchy Air, Queenstown Airport, +64 3 442-2207, [4]. Scenic flights to Milford Sound, Mount Cook and the Glaciers
  • HeliWorks, Queenstown Airport, +64 3 441-4011, [5]. Exciting scenic flights in & around Queenstown & Milford Sound, Lord of the Rings flights with the pilots who filmed the trilogy.
  • Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters, 35 Lucas Place, Queenstown Airport, 0800 801 616 (, fax: +64 3 442-3019), [6]. Glacier Southern Lakes offer a selection of daily scenic flights over the iconic landscapes of the Wakatipu and Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Parks. Alpine or snow landings are part of all their flights or you can discover the uniqueness of a glacier landing, included in all their Milford Sound experiences.
The shotover jet boat
  • Flyfishing
  • Hiking.
  • Wine tasting. The southernmost vineyards in the world are close by. The Central Otago wine region has become famous for the production of Pinot Noir and other cool climate wine varieties of outstanding quality. Combined with spectacular scenery, a fascinating history and a true pioneering history this is a great wine region to explore for a few days.
  • Appellation Central Wine Tours, [7]. Appellation Central's team of specialists guides will host you on a memorable day out in Central Otago wine country. Small group tours depart daily from Queenstown.
  • Queenstown Wine Trail, [8]. operate daily departing guided wine tours to renowned Queenstown & Bannockburn wineries
  • Cycling

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!

  • Off the Rails, [9]. operate guided cycle tours on the world famous Otago Rail Trail from Sept to May. Departing from Queenstown. Includes bike hire, accommodation, breakfasts and transport.
  • Fishing - Lake Wakatipu is known for it's trout. You can not buy fish that originated from in NZ lakes - you have to fish for them yourself.
  • Cruising - lake cruises on Lake Wakatipu offer great views of the town, surrounding mountains, etc.
  • Gardens - Queenstown has a number of superb private gardens as well as the centrally located public Queenstown Gardens jutting out into Lake Wakatipu. The walking track on the lake edge offers excellent views of Queenstown and surrounding mountains.


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.

  • The Bathhouse Fine Restaurant, Esplanade +64 3 442 5625 (fine dining)
  • The Bunker, Cow Lane +64 3 441 8030 (fine dining)
  • Wai Waterfront Seafood Restaurant, Steamer Wharf +64 3 442 5969 (fine dining)
  • Fergburger Takeaways, Shotover Street +64 3 441 1232 (legendary, large burgers)
  • The Cow Pizza & Spaghetti House, Cow Lane +64 3 442 8588 (pizza)
  • At Thai, Church Street, +64 3 4423683 (Thai cuisine)
  • The Lone Star, (casual dining)
  • Minami Jujitsu (Japanese)
  • Memories of Hong Kong (lunch boxes and dining)
  • Hamills Restaurant (casual dining) Remarkables Park, Frankton
  • Skyline Queenstown Restaurant. Taste of New Zealand buffet offers delectable fresh seafood, salads, roast meats and delicious desserts.
  • Fishbone Queenstown, 7 Beach Street, 6434426768, [10]. 5pm. Fishbone has been the place for fresh fish in Queenstown for over 21 years. They pride themselves on Oysters shucked straight from their seawater tank. Also from the tank are South Island Lobsters and Clams. All seafood is direct from the fishermen, a great local wine list to match also.


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.

  • Guilty Bar, Ballarat Street, +64 3 409 2178, [11]. Heineken Bar
  • Fishbone Queenstown, 7 Beach Street, +64 3 4426768, [12]. From 5PM. Fishbone has been the place for fresh fish to stop in Queenstown for over 21 years. They pride themselves on Oysters shucked straight from their seawater tank. Also from the tank are South Island Lobsters and Clams. All seafood is direct from the fishermen.
  • Winnies, The Mall 7 Ballarat Street, Queenstown Town Centre, +64 3-442 8635 ‎, [13]. 12 noon till late. Gourmet Pizza Bar in the centre of Queenstown in a former school cinema and one of the towns oldest buildings. Dining, drinking and partying under the sun and stars with an opening roof.
  • Botswana Butchery, 17 Marine parade (On the waters edge), +6434426994, [14]. A great restaurant with ambience, sensational service. The menu is extensive and specialises in meat. The whole leg of lamb for 2 could feed 3! The wine list is very good. Prices are at the higher end but sensational for a special occasion. They have smaller private room dinning opportunities as well as a great bar room for pre-dinner drinks.
  • The Buffalo Club, 8 Brecon Street, +643442 4144, [15]. 4pm to Late. Home of the infamous Buff Ugly dancers, Ginger Wednesdays, Queenstown's only late night bikini competition on Topless Tuesdays and a roaring hot fire to keep you warm in winter.
  • Bar Up, Upstairs, Cnr Searle Lane & Eureka Arcade, [16]. A boutique nightlife bar, the upstairs bar has a lounge feel about it, warmed by a open fire with a private deck. It has an extensive cocktail list.
  • Winnies Gourmet Pizza bar, Upstairs 7-9 The Mall (next to the cinema), +64 3 442 8635, [17]. Easily the best pizzas in town, caters for everyone and very family friendly
  • Winnies, Upstairs 7-9 The Mall (next to the cinema), +64 3 442 8635, [18]. Easily the best pizzas in town
  • Fishbone Queenstown, 7 Beach Street, 6434426768, [19]. 5pm. Fishbone has been an essential stop for all seafood lovers for over 21 years in Queenstown. They pride themselves on serving the freshest fish, Oysters, Crayfish (Lobster)and Clams from their tank. A direct relationship with all of the seafood providers ensure they offer the best available. Great casual modern restaurant. They also buy their wines locally straight from the wine makers of Central Otago $$.


Accommodation ranges from backpacker camps and inns to luxury lodges, bed and breakfasts, apartments, and hotels.

  • Aspen Queenstown, Fernhill Road, [20]. The highest-situated hotel in town, overlooking Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables.
  • Crowne Plaza Queenstown, 93 Beach St, +64 3 4502674 (), [21]. Central, lakeside location featuring lakeview rooms with full views of the Remarkables mountain range and Lake Wakatipu
  • Heritage Queenstown, 91 Fernhill Road, +64 3 442 4988, [22]. 4 star plus hotel with suites and 3 bedroom villas available. Free shuttle to town.
  • Larch Hill B&B, 16 Panners Way, +64 3 442 4811 (), [23]. As featured in 'National Geographic Traveler', spectacular lake and mountain views from all rooms and sundecks. Warm, comfortable, quiet bed and breakfast, only a 3 minute drive from the centre of Queenstown. Free WiFi.
  • Nomads Queenstown Backpackers Hostel, 5-11 Church Street, +64 3 441 3922, freecall 0508-666237 (), [24]. checkin: 1pm; checkout: 10am. Voted the Best Hostel in New Zealand by backpackers at the Golden Backpack Awards in 2010, 2011 and at the HOSCARS in Feb 2011. Open fire in lounge area, a sauna and ski storage available. SkyTV cinema, TV lounge, modern kitchen, wheelchair friendly, travel services, girls only dorms, high speed wifi. Free inclusions are tea and coffee, light breakfast, nightly meal (World Bar).
  • The Rees Hotel, 370 Frankton Road (4km from Airport, 1.8km from town), +64 3 450 1100, [25]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 10AM. Established nearly 150 years ago, the hotel has king-size beds, NZ wool carpet and heated floors in the bathroom. $325-$425. (-45.028114,168.687822)
  • Spaview Villa, 69 Hensman Rd, +64 7 8274537, [26]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 10AM. Large outdoor spa pool with mountain and lake views. Five bedrooms can sleep ten people. Three bathrooms, free wifi. $850-925.
  • Willowby Downs, 792 Malaghans Rd (Willowby Downs is .5 km off Malaghans Rd, Arrowtown down a driveway and approximately 5 km from Arrowtown passing Millbrook Resort on the way), + 64 3 442 1714, [27].
  • Evergreen Lodge, 28 Evergreen Pl, + 64 3 442 6636, [28]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11AM. Overlooking Lake Wakatipu. Bed and breakfast accommodation.
  • The Spire Hotel (Spire Hotel), 3-5 Church Lane 3-5 Church Lane, 03 441 0004, [29]. The Spire Queenstown is a personal and inviting boutique hotel delivering guests a superior level of service.

Stay safe

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.

Get out

Queenstown can be used as a base to see the surrounding country, including Arrowtown, Glenorchy, Kingston, the Kawarau Gorge, Cromwell and Wanaka.

More distant tourist destinations such as Te Anau and Milford Sound are a day trip away, with many tour operators providing bus tours and flights.

Visit the Fox Glacier the biggest and less crowded west coast glacier. Located approximately 4.5 hours drive north of Queenstown.

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