Queenstown Travel Guide


What was once a small, remote, South Island town has transitioned, first to a busy ski destination, and now to a year round tourist mecca and centre for adventure tourism. It is a world famous destination attracting around 1.9 million visitors every year, undoubtedly the tourism capital of the South Island if not New Zealand, and a must-see stop for most visitors to New Zealand.

Situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, one of Otago and New Zealand's most scenic lakes, surrounded by mountains, it's not hard to see why its stunning scenery draws people here year round. Queenstown happily caters for all visitors with a full range of attractions, activities, accommodation and eating options for any budget, from backpackers to five star luxury. This popularity is not without its problems though - in many respects Queenstown can be a tourist trap. However, reasonable prices and a few bargains can be found for those prepared to look for them.

Queenstown is a bustling town throughout the year, peaking over summer and during the ski-season. There is a vibrant night life with the town's small central area packed with bars and restaurants. If you plan on getting a good nights sleep, then you might consider staying slightly out of town. It's common to see people on the streets up to 05:00 returning from disco or pub. If you're looking for a relaxing scenic holiday, Wanaka (just over an hours' drive away) is smaller and more tranquil with less of a manic teenage party atmosphere.


Queenstown and the surrounding area was originally settled by Europeans and a substantial Chinese population for gold mining and farming in the 1860s. After the decline of gold mining, Queenstown became a sleepy rural town, popular as a summer getaway.

In 1947 New Zealand's first commercial ski field, Coronet Peak, opened. The skiing industry slowly expanded in the town driving its early growth as a tourist resort. Leveraging Queenstown's popularity as a ski destination, various other tourist industries grew up including the world's first permanent commercial bungee site, the Kawarau Bridge Bungy. Other attractions followed, along with a huge number of hotels to cater for the visitors. The last 10 years have seen the addition of international 5 star hotel chains such as the Hilton and Sofitel. Queenstown is still growing at a fantastic rate, with some of New Zealand's most expensive property prices (the median house price in December 2013 was $646,000, second only to Auckland) and new hotels still open regularly, although this has slowed somewhat recently. Time will tell if it can hold on to its character and protect its natural beauty from the effects of its own popularity.

Local newspapers

The Mirror. The first of two free community newspapers to hit the streets (on Wednesday morning), The Mirror is a great source for catching up on all things that are happening in the entire Queenstown-Lakes area. In addition to the news articles, there is a weekly restaurant review and profile of a band or DJ that will be headlining at one of Queenstown's many nightspots that week.

Lakes Weekly Bulletin is an additional source of second hand items for sale, community noticeboard, employment vacancies, film/gig guide, flatmates and rentals.

Visitor information

source: Wikivoyage

Things To Do in Queenstown See All Things To Do in Queenstown

  • Vesta Design Store

    Vesta Design Store

    Williams Cottage

    Attractions,Arts and Culture
  • Fear Factory

    Fear Factory

    54 Shotover Street

    Fear Factory Queenstown is New Zealand's Scariest Haunted House. Walk the dark hallways and discover...

    Attractions,Landmarks and Points Of Interest
  • Ivan Clarke Gallery

    Ivan Clarke Gallery

    35 Camp St

    Attractions,Arts and Culture
  • Wilson Gallery

    Wilson Gallery

    Beach Road

    Attractions,Arts and Culture

Hotels in Queenstown (102 Hotels) See All Queenstown Hotels

  • Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa

    Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa is one of the ideal, premium places to lodge in Queenstown. Beautifully placed close to Nzski, Harris Mountains Heli-Ski and Off Road Adven...

  • Amity Lodge Motel

    Amity Lodge Motel is among the best, finest places to remain in Queenstown. Nicely situated around Darkride NZ, Arrow River and Spring Foot Spa, Amity Lodge Motel is real...

  • The Waterfront

    The Waterfront is among the top, premium places to stay in Queenstown. Beautifully found in close proximity to Wake Tours, TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship Cruises and Walt...

  • The Remarkables Mountain Lodge

    Located within Kawarau Falls, The Remarkables Mountain Lodge is opportunely located near Queenstown Paintball, Queenstown Gardens and The Remarkables Ski Area. Other crow...

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