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Home : Holidays : Oceania : New Zealand : Queenstown-New Zealand's Top 5

Queenstown-New Zealand's Top 5

From a gold-mining camp in the 1860s, Queenstown has transformed into New Zealand??s premier alpine resort.  If you??re seeking action adventure sports, Queenstown offers bungy jumping, jetboating, tramping, mountain biking, snow sports ¨C even a simulated rocket launch.  For more leisurely pursuits there are wine trails, golf, cruises, fishing, fine dining - or simply people watching along the banks of the picturesque Lake Wakatipu.  The town??s compact central hub, with over 140 bars and restaurants, keeps the nightlife humming.


The first people to discover Queenstown's rare beauty were Maori pounamu (jade) hunters. Then came the gold miners, in search of another kind of treasure. Today Queenstown is treasured for its magnificent scenery, adventure opportunities and luxury lifestyle.

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, New Zealand

Long summer days blonde the tussocks, throwing the hills open to mountain bikers and hikers. The brilliant reds and golds of autumn colour the trees, inspiring photographers and golfers alike. In winter, snow transforms the region into a remarkable alpine playground for skiers and snowboarders. Spring brings the spark of fresh green to the landscape ¨C a time to celebrate life with a cruise on the lake or an invigorating bungy jump.

In any season, you can count on stylish accommodation, designer shopping and marvellous cuisine experiences. Queenstown's compact downtown area is a cosmopolitan hub that's relaxed during the day and huge fun at night.

Where is it?

Queenstown is located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in the magnificent alpine landscape of the Southern Lakes region.

How do I get there?

Travel with Great Sights from Christchurch or fly direct from New Zealand's main regions.  If you prefer to self drive, hire a Maui rental car from Christchurch.  The drive takes approx 5 hours.

When is the best time to go?

Queenstown is the Southern Hemisphere??s premier four season mountain and lake resort; however winter is when the area really comes alive!  This is a magical season of snow-capped mountains and blue skies, when visitors and locals alike relish an enviable lifestyle and a stunning environment.

Renowned as the premier winter destination of the Southern Hemisphere, winter activity in the Southern Lakes region centres on the alpine playgrounds of Queenstown and Lake Wanaka.  There are six international standard snow areas and an apr¨?s ski culture to match.  The ski fields cater for all levels of skill, and size of group.

You're right in the middle of Middle-earth

If you've see the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you're already familiar with some of Queenstown's most picturesque places. Rugged mountains, lush beech forests, golden hill country and crystal clear waterways made Queenstown, Glenorchy and Arrowtown perfect for many Middle-earth locations. Fans will recognise the Ford of Bruinen, Dimrill Dale, Ithilien, Isengard, Lothlorien, Amon Hen and the Pillars of the Kings.

Several operators conduct specialised tours of Lord of the Rings filming sites. These tours are increasingly popular with LOTR fans; they're also great for those who just want to see the magnificent back country.

Take a walk through history in Arrowtown

Less than half an hour from Queenstown, Arrowtown is home to the superb Lakes District Museum, often described as one of New Zealand's best small museums. Much of Arrowtown's history is very much alive and in daily use. Wander the banks of the Arrow River and discover life as it was for the Chinese gold miners - their humble village can still be seen tucked into the riverbank. The main street, Buckingham Street, is testament to the town's determination to preserve its illustrious past. Historic buildings house a stylish shopping and dining precinct. Pick up a directory of historic buildings from the museum and spend an afternoon exploring Arrowtown's unique history. In April and May, the town's trees are a magnificent sight - one of the best autumn displays in the country.

Glenorchy - the gateway to paradise

Bordered by a World Heritage area, the frontier village of Glenorchy at the northern tip of Lake Wakatipu is completely surrounded by mountains, glacier fed rivers and beech forest. The road to Glenorchy promises breathtaking views of Lake Wakatipu and glacial geological formations, including sheer mountain sides and hanging valleys. 20 kilometres further on is Paradise, a tiny farming settlement where the road evolves into a 4WD track and, eventually, a walking path. Many of New Zealand's great walks start or finish just beyond Glenorchy. You can walk across the great divide via the Routeburn, Greenstone or Caples tracks or across the Mt Aspiring National Park on the Dart/ Rees Track.

Skippers Canyon - the road to high adventure

From the 1860s until quite recently, Skippers Canyon was the centre of gold mining activity in the Queenstown region. Historic sites still exist today, so it's easy to imagine the harsh life of a gold digger. A number of original gold mining workings are being progressively restored.

Hand carved out of solid rock, the Skippers Road is an adventure in itself. Pause to take in the stunning views - looking down is likely to make your toes tingle. There are several adventure operators making good use of the road and the canyon. Depending on your appetite for thrills, you can take a ride on the flying fox, go white water rafting or get a vertical view of the canyon attached to a bungy. Less terrifying options include blasting along the Shotover River in a jet boat, walking across a historic pipeline or a visit to Winky's Museum.

Flightseeing ¨C a birds eye view of filming locations.