A town with a crown
New Zealand’s finest resort city is so beautiful and so much fun that people venture here from around the world to enjoy its unrivalled splendour, whether in summer or winter. Nestled on the shore of Lake Wakatipu at the foot of the mountains, it’s a playground for thrillseekers, offering jet boating, bungy jumping, mountain climbing and paragliding. Come winter, it’s also the perfect base for fans of quality snow sports, with The Remarkables and Coronet Peak offering world-class facilities less than 30 minutes away. Add the close proximity of former gold rush towns like Clyde and Arrowtown, Lake Wanaka and its nearby ski resorts Treble Cone and Cardona, amazing mountain biking tracks, trout and salmon fishing, hiking and even a 150km scenic cycling rail trail, and you’ve got a town with just about everything a tourist could want. And that’s even before you start exploring the plethora of bars, pubs, cafés, restaurants, shops and hotels in the heart of the CBD.
Things to do
Food for thought
Stroll around the city centre and check out the tantalising deals on offer at the countless bars and restaurants competing to welcome you. Pizza, Thai, Mexican, craft beer, domestic wine and just about everything else you can think of is on offer, including the world-famous in New Zealand burger joint, Fergburger opens in new window.
Good as gold
Serving prospectors during the gold rush of the 19th century, the quaint village of Arrowtown opens in new window is just a 20-minute drive from Queenstown and is home to arts and crafts, bars and restaurants, outdoor adventure companies and a cinema.
The best way to see all of Queenstown is to take the Skyline Gondola opens in new window to the top of Bob’s Peak for breathtaking views across Lake Wakatipu to the surrounding mountains and the city below.
The 90-minute cruise across Lake Wakatipu on century-old steamship the TSS Earnslaw opens in new window is a relaxing and educational way to spend your time. Optional add-ons include a guided farm tour, horse trek, barbecue lunch or evening dinner.
The fast track
Once you reach the top of the Skyline Gondola, it’s up to you how you get back down again. Zip down on the luge track opens in new window – and once you’re down there, go back up and do it all again. Take the world’s most scenic bungy jump opens in new window. Or fly over Queenstown on a tandem paraglide opens in new window.
Travel time 15 minutes
Taxi Approx NZ$35
SuperShuttle from NZ$20
Connectabus Every 15 minutes. One-way: NZ$8 (adult), NZ$5 (child). Journey takes 25 minutes.Back to top
When to go
Summer days from December to March are long and warm, with temperatures sometimes hitting 30°C though the average is in the low 20s. Winter from June to August sees the mercury dip into the single digits, or if you’re lucky, below freezing. The humidity is moderate and rainfall is manageable.
The ski season kicks off with the annual Winter Festival in late June, with the festivities happening throughout the township and at ski resorts for 10 days. Its huge popularity means early bookings are a must. If you’re in Queenstown at the start of summer, the annual Summer Daze festival, which starts on 31 December and spans all of January, includes the Lake Hayes A&P Show celebrating Queenstown’s agricultural heritage and the Pinot Noir Celebration for those with a nose for fine wine.Back to top
Getting around the CBD is an easy stroll, while Connectabus is a cheap and handy way to explore the wider area. The bus operates from the early morning until late at night and serves all major hotels and motels every 20 minutes. Or you can hire a bike and cycle to some of the sights around the lake and inland.Back to top