Queenstown Travel Guide

History

Māori visitors

The area was known to Māori before Europeans arrived. The first European to see Lake Wakatipu was Nathanael Chalmers who was guided by Reko, the chief of the Tuturau, over the Waimea Plains and up the Mataura River in September 1853. Evidence of stake nets, baskets for catching eels, spears and ashes indicated the Glenorchy area was visited by Māori. It is likely Ngāi Tahu Māori visited Queenstown en route to collect Pounamu (greenstone), although no evidence of permanent settlement is known.

European settlers

Explorers William Gilbert Rees and Nicholas von Tunzelmann, were the first Europeans to settle the area. Rees established a high country farm in the location of Queenstown's current town centre in 1860, but the discovery of gold in the Arrow River in 1862 encouraged Rees to convert his wool shed into a hotel named the Queen's Arms, now known as Eichardt's. There are various apocryphal accounts of how the town was named, the most popular suggesting that a local gold digger exclaimed that the town was "fit for Queen Victoria". Many Queenstown streets bear names from the gold mining era (such as Camp Street) and some historic buildings remain. William's Cottage, the Lake Lodge of Ophir, Queenstown Police Station, and St Peter's Anglican Church lie close together in a designated historic precinct.

source: Wikipedia

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