Surrounded by the dramatic scenery of the Remarkables and edged by the crystal clear, blue depths of Lake Wakatipu, no one has visited Queenstown and said they're bored.
Known around the world for being the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown also offers a softer side, with its emerging restaurant scene, internationally renowned golf coursesOpens external site in a new window and vibrant new wineries. The younger crowd head there to throw themselves out of planes or bungee jump off bridges, but if you're looking for a relaxing weekend getaway you won't be disappointed either. Find a spot at the edge of the lake and drink in the views or head into the hills further up the lake at Glenorchy for some stunning wilderness. A popular year round destination, there's a reason Queenstown has such an exciting reputation.
Queenstown is a natural playground with plenty on offer including family fun, adrenaline fuelled adventure, skiing or relaxation.
- Indulge in the ultimate bungy jumpOpens external site in a new window - dropping 134 metres in roughly 8.5 seconds
- Take in Queenstown's incredible views at the Queenstown Stratosphere Restaurant & BarOpens external site in a new window
- Go sunset kayakingOpens external site in a new window on Lake Wakatipu
- Grab a burger at Ferg BurgerOpens external site in a new window. It's big, it's messy and it's delicious.
New Zealand's South Island is possibly the world's most scenically diverse and spectacular island. Go forth from Queenstown and explore the best of what's on offer.
Skiing near Queenstown
Queenstown and the surrounding mountains are a winter playground for snowboarders and skiiers looking for some adventure.
Located between Queenstown and Wanaka, CardronaOpens external site in a new window is a family-orientated resort with skiing and snowboarding for all abilities. Lessons are readily available for beginners, and for the young feeling more adventurous there are a series of parks and pipes they can enjoy and practice their freestyle skiing and boarding.
Head to the South Island's largest ski area and stretch your legs for a serious winter workout at Treble ConeOpens external site in a new window. Covering four basins (about 1360 acres), the resort has a huge variety of terrain for the beginner or the most advanced and adventurous skiier. Home to the longest ski and snowboard runs in the Queenstown and Wanaka lakes area, the longest is a thigh burning four kilometres downhill stretch with a vertical drop of about 700 metres.
With stunning views of the Queenstown valley, it's no wonder Coronet PeakOpens external site in a new window is one of the most popular resorts in the region. With its spectacular roller coaster terrain, the slopes are perfect for skiiers and boarders of every ability. With two terrain parks and 690 acres plus a tubing park, the area is a great choice for all the family.
Located in the heart of the Southern Lakes region, Queenstown is the epicentre of local tourism. The size of a large town, it has the energy of a large city thanks to a plentiful and ever changing tourist population. Don't be surprised to be outnumbered by European or American accents depending on the season - it can feel like a very continental town.
There are a number of places to stay in Queenstown depending on your bank balance, from the budget Haka Lodge, to Lakeside at the Novotel to the uber luxury of the Dairy Private Luxury Hotel or Eichardt's Private HotelOpens external site in a new window, commanding possibly the best view in town.
After a hard day of adventure you won't be in short supply of top quality restaurants and places to eat in Queenstown. Located around the town centre the majority will all come with fantastic reviews and hungry people waiting to get in. Some highlights include fast and easy mexican tacosOpens external site in a new window, a meat feast at Botswana ButcheryOpens external site in a new window and the cosy and intimate wine bar The BunkerOpens external site in a new window.
For some action and adventure in and around the town check out the Skyline Gondola and Luge, fun for all the family with its twisting turns and high speed hairpins. Or take a trip on the 1901 paddle steamer for a gentle cruise and scenic tour.
Lake Wanaka and Central Otago
In winter you'll find the town bustling with skiiers making the most of the famous peaks that are all within an easy (and stunning) drive. The town is more than just a winter destination, however, with fishing, hiking, canyoning, climbing and skydiving all on offer. The nearby towns of Queenstown, Cromwell and Alexandra all offer an interesting insight into the local history of the area. Or for those looking to truly relax, do nothing more than sit back and soak up the incredible peaks and soothing waters of the lake.
Made famous in the 1860s when gold was discovered, you can still pan for it amongst the miners' old trails, cottages and machinery. Today the area is best known for being one of the country's top wine regions where that fickle grape variety, Pinot Noir, seems to excel in these southernmost vineyards.
Take a motorhome, a mountain bike or a rental car and explore at your own pace. Tour the cellar doors or cruise the highways and byways and explore the region's more remote areas.
45 kilometres long and covering 193 square kilometres, Lake Wanaka's crystal clear waters make a stunning backdrop to your holiday.
Milford Sound and Fiordland
Situated on the west coast of the South Island, Milford Sound is possibly one of the most spectacular, and recognisable, stretches of water in the world. The subject of countless photographs and artworks, it was described by author Rudyard Kipling as the eighth wonder of the world. Carved by glaciers during the ice age, the dramatic cliffs rise vertically out of the water with waterfalls spilling over their tops, some cascading as far as 1,000 metres.
Take a boat cruise and experience the Sound, or for the more adventurous you can kayak, dive or flightsee your way around. If you go diving, head for the underwater observatory at Harrison Cove and look out for the black coral, 11 legged sea stars and delicate anemones.
Taking in Milford Sound and stretching south, Fiordland is surely one of the most dramatic and breathtaking parts of New Zealand. Waterfalls spills over cliffs and rocky outcrops, ancient forests cling to steep cliffs and shimmering peaks and sparkling waters look as they have for thousands of years, untouched and unchanged by man.
If you're heading here pack your walking boots, it's world class and has some of the most stunning scenery in the region. Highly recommended is a scenic flight which gives a proper impression of just why the area is so renowned for its natural beauty.
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The region is famous for having four distinct seasons. In summer the long, warm days leave plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors while in autumn you can enjoy the sight of red and gold blanketing the hills. If you visit in winter you’ll experience the stunning snowcapped mountains and green valleys and Spring transforms the area with bright colours.
From the airport
You'll find the airport on the eastern edge of Queenstown. Look out the windown when you land or take off and enjoy the incredible views. You can get in to town by bus or by hiring a car or taxi, all readily available at the airport.
In and around the town
Queenstown is small enough that you'll be able to walk around the town and between it's more central locations and highlights. There are buses to get to the other parts of town and many hotels have shuttle buses that will ferry you at regular intervals. Hiring a car is highly recommended so you can enjoy the wider region at your own pace.
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