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Queenstown is a scenic town in the South Island of New Zealand. It's 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.
The town and surrounding area was originally settled by Europeans and a substantial 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 International Airport is well served by domestic and international flights by major airlines while major New Zealand Highways connect Queenstown to surrounding South Island regions.
If you’re planning to travel by road, you can hop on a bus or join a tour. On your drive to Queenstown you’ll come across incredible natural landscapes and many attractions making it an ideal trip if you have time to explore.
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 direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in Australia. If you're flying in from another New Zealand city, you can easily book your direct flights online.
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.
Daily services from Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill, Te Anau, Wanaka and the West Coast (Fox Glacier Franz Josef Greymouth).
National bus operator InterCity and Newmans Coach Lines provide daily services in and out of Queenstown with connections throughout the South Island. Services arrive and depart from the Athol Street car park located in the main retail shopping area.
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 Queenstown's centre. Transport to adventure activities is often part of the tour package. Some operators may pick up from your accommodation.
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. All buses stop on Camp Street outside the O'Connell shopping mall. Connectabus also run return trips twice a day to Wanaka.
A door to door 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 23:59-05:00 and provides an economical alternative to taxis.
While spending time in the city centre would not require a car, if you wish to explore beyond the city and go sightseeing or try out the thrilling experiences such as skydiving or zip lining than car hire may be a good option to consider. With so many attractions spread through the region, Queenstown has a variety of local car hire such as Queenstown Rental Cars for those that want the flexibility and personal space to enjoy their trip.
What to see
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.
AJ Hackett Bungy. First commercial bungy jump established on the Kawarau Bridge
Cruising - lake cruises on Lake Wakatipu offer great views of the town, surrounding mountains, etc.
Million Dollar Cruise, Queenstown Bay (come to the kiosk). 90 minute cruise around Lake Wakatipu and the Queenstown Gardens, Kelvin Heights, Queenstown Golf Course, the Kawarau Falls and Frankton Arm with views of native birds, salmon and trout. A Maori Culture experience is also available, offering insights into the history of Maori settlement of the Wakatipu.
Arrowtown, just 15-minutes from Queenstown is at centre of the Queenstown Trail. More than 100km (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
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.