Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand

Resort town
Queenstown from Bob's Peak
Queenstown from Bob's Peak
Queenstown is located in New Zealand
Country  New Zealand
Region  Otago
Territorial authority Queenstown-Lakes District
Named January 1863 [2]
Founded by William Gilbert Rees
 • Mayor Vanessa van Uden
 • Urban 25.55 km2 (9.86 sq mi)
 • District 8,704.97 km2 (3,361.01 sq mi)
Population (June 2015 estimate)
 • Urban 13,150
 • Urban density 510/km2 (1,300/sq mi)
 • District 32,400
 • District density 3.7/km2 (9.6/sq mi)
Time zone NZST (UTC+12:00)
 • Summer (DST) NZDT (UTC+13:00)
Postcode(s) 9300
Area code(s) 03

Queenstown (Māori: Tāhuna) is a resort town in Otago in the south-west of New Zealand's South Island.

It is built around an inlet called Queenstown Bay on Lake Wakatipu, a long thin Z-shaped lake formed by glacial processes, and has spectacular views of nearby mountains such as The Remarkables, Cecil Peak, Walter Peak and just above the town; Ben Lomond and Queenstown Hill.

Queenstown has an urban population of 13,150 (June 2015 estimate),[3] making it the 29th largest urban area in New Zealand, and the third largest urban area in Otago, behind Dunedin and Oamaru.

The Queenstown-Lakes District has a land area of 8,704.97 square kilometres (3,361.01 sq mi) not counting its inland lakes (Lake Hāwea, Lake Wakatipu, and Lake Wanaka). The region has an estimated resident population of 32,400 (June 2015 estimate).[3] Its neighbouring towns include Arrowtown, Glenorchy, Kingston, Wanaka, Alexandra, and Cromwell. The nearest cities are Dunedin and Invercargill. Queenstown is now known for its commerce-oriented tourism, especially adventure and ski tourism. It is popular with New Zealand, Australian and international travellers alike.


  • History 1
    • Māori visitors 1.1
    • European settlers 1.2
    • Naming 1.3
  • Tourism and education 2
    • See and do 2.1
    • Locations for television and film 2.2
    • Language, tourism, and community education 2.3
  • Highlights 3
    • Sports and Recreation 3.1
    • In the Area 3.2
  • Geography and climate 4
  • Transport 5
  • Suburbs and nearby areas 6
  • Sister cities 7
  • See also 8
  • Bibliography 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


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.[4] 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). There was a settlement called Te Kirikiri Pa occupied by the tribe of Kāti Mamoe which was situated in the location of the current Queenstown Gardens, but by the time Europeans arrived in the 1860s this settlement was no longer being used.[5]

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.[6] 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.


There are various apocryphal accounts of how the town of Queenstown was named however the following is the most likely:

When William Rees first arrived in the area and built the homestead the area was known as The Station although miners soon referred to it as The Camp from 1860 to 1862.

The miners and especially the Irish had taken an interest in the ceremony held for a small town called The Cove in Ireland which was renamed to Queenstown in honour of Queen Victoria in 1850.[7] They may have had their own ceremony at the intersection of Rees and Beach Streets replicating some of the elements in the renaming of the Irish town.

Subsequent to this a public meeting was held for the purpose of naming the township on the lake in January 1863 (probably the weekend of the 3rd and 4th) in which the town was officially given the name of Queenstown in reference to Ireland's Queenstown. By the 9 and 10 January 1863 the town was being reported with the name of Queenstown from several reports written by a correspondent in the Otago Witness on Monday the 5th and Tuesday the 6th.[8][9] It was during the meeting there may have been a reference by a miner of the town being "fit for a Queen" (this is one of the most popular accounts of how the town was named).

The Māori name for Queenstown of Tāhuna means shallow bay.[10]

Tourism and education

See and do

The Queenstown Mall in winter
Queenstown and the Remarkable Mountains
The Ledge Bungy

A resort town, Queenstown boasted 220 adventure tourism activities in 2012.[11] Skiing and snowboarding, jet boating, whitewater rafting, bungy jumping, mountain biking,[11] skateboarding, tramping, paragliding, sky diving and fly fishing are all popular.

Queenstown is a major centre for snow sports in New Zealand, with people from all over the country and many parts of the world travelling to ski at the four main mountain ski fields (Cardrona Alpine Resort, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Treble Cone). Cross country skiing is also available at the Waiorau Snowfarm,[12] near Cardrona village.

The 100-year-old twin screw coal fired steamer TSS Earnslaw traverses Lake Wakatipu.

Queenstown lies close to the centre of a small wine producing region, reputed to be the world's southernmost. The Two Paddocks vineyard is owned by local actor Sam Neill.[13] Neighbouring, historic Arrowtown features restaurants and bars.

Queenstown has many festivals.[14] In 2013, examples include Bike Festival (March/April),[15] Winter Festival (June),[16] and Jazz Festival (October).[17]

Locations for television and film

Jane Campion's six-part drama mystery Top of the Lake was shot during 2012 for pay TV release in 2013. The lakes of the Wakatipu appear ominous,[18] and the Southern Alps spectacular. The main location is Moke Lake[19][20] and scenes were shot on Lower Beach Street and Coronation Drive, and at a supermarket and bottle store on Shotover Street.[19] Top of the Lake's international cast includes Holly Hunter, Elisabeth Moss, Peter Mullan,[18] David Wenham,[21] and Thomas M Wright.[20]

In 2010, Cycle 14 of America's Next Top Model, was, in part filmed in Queenstown. The cycle was won by Krista White. Raina Hein was runner up.

Queenstown and the surrounding area contains many locations used in the filming of the The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Locations used include Paradise near Glenorchy, at the head of Lake Wakatipu.

Queenstown became popular in South Asia after the release of Bollywood Blockbuster Willow.

Filming of the 1981 film Race for the Yankee Zephyr took place in and around Queenstown, the first major motion picture production for the area.

The first and last episodes of the fifth season of The Mole were filmed in Queenstown. In the latter episode, the final three contestants took the final computer quiz on the Kingston Flyer.

Language, tourism, and community education

Wakatipu High School is a government co-ed school which services the community for students in years 9–13 (ages 13–18 years).[22]

Primary schools catering to students in years 1–8 (ages 5–12 years) in the Queenstown area are: KingsView, Queenstown, Remarkables, St Joseph's and Shotover.

Adult training institutions provide a variety of options in English, sustainability, tourism and community education in Queenstown.

Specialist English language providers[23][24] include Language Schools New Zealand,[25] ABC College of English,[26] and Southern Lakes English College.[27] Southern Institute of Technology (SIT)[28] offers various courses, including scholarships for English study.[29]

Queenstown Resort College actively supports events for international travel agents,[30] It offers accredited management courses in hospitality and adventure tourism,[31] and a rare Diploma of Adventure Tourism Management specialising in Snowsport.[32]

ACE Wakatipu has a community focus, and provides links to many adult training opportunities.[33]

Otago Polytechnic offers introductory courses in sustainability.[34] And its Centre for Sustainable Practice offers certificate and graduate diploma level courses in sustainable practice.[34][35]


Sports and Recreation

In the Area

Panorama of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu from the top of the gondola
The Remarkables mountain range, autumn 2015

Geography and climate

Queenstown is situated on the shore line of Lake Wakatipu, the third largest lake by surface area in New Zealand. It is at a relatively low altitude, for a ski and snowboarding centre, just 310 metres above sea level, on the shores of the lake, but nestled among mountains, and there are close-by gorges and some plains suitable for agriculture.

Because of its relatively moderate altitude ( 310 metres) but with high mountain surroundings, it has an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb).[56] Summer has long warm days with temperatures that can reach 30 °C while winters are cold with temperatures often in single digits with frequent snowfall, although there is no permanent snow cover during the year. As with the rest of Central Otago, Queenstown lies within the rain shadow of the Southern Alps, but being closer to the west coast the town is more susceptible to rain-bearing fronts compared to nearby Cromwell, Wanaka and Alexandra. The hottest recorded temperature in Queenstown is 34.1 °C (93 °F), while the coldest is −8.4 °C (17 °F).[57]

Climate data for Queenstown (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 21.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 15.8
Average low °C (°F) 9.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 64.7
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 7.2 6.2 7.4 7.4 9.0 9.2 6.9 9.1 8.5 8.8 7.6 9.6 96.9
Average relative humidity (%) 70.2 74.3 75.8 78.4 81.1 83.8 83.3 80.5 73.1 70.9 67.5 69.4 75.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 230.3 207.3 187.0 145.4 87.8 71.8 88.3 120.0 153.6 197.7 216.6 223.5 1,929.2
Source: NIWA Climate Data[58]


Queenstown is accessible by road and air but not by rail (similar to Kaitaia, Taupo and Nelson).

As a resort centre, there are many bus services that operate into Queenstown, with most being for package tours, but daily services for the local or itinerant are available to and from Invercargill, Dunedin and Christchurch, which are the main cities closest to Queenstown.

Queenstown has an international airport with flights from Australia by Air New Zealand, Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar and in particular, to Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, and Sydney (the frequency is much increased over the ski season and during summer). Domestic flights operate to Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Nelson and Wellington. Due to sustained growth, expansion of the airport terminal was undertaken in 2005 through 2010.

Queenstown Airport is New Zealand's busiest helicopter base, also the fourth busiest airport by passenger traffic, and is also heavily used for tourist 'flightseeing', especially to Milford Sound and Mount Cook, using both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.

The primary road access to the Queenstown area is via Kingston before crossing the provincial boundary and emerging on the plains of Southland, terminating in the city of Invercargill. A difficult road over the Crown Range leads to Cardrona skifield and Wanaka, and is New Zealand's highest paved public road.

Queenstown is the departure point for a large number of day trips to the similarly famous Milford Sound, which entails a return trip of approximately 12 hours. There are scenic flights available to Milford Sound. A return flight, including a two-hour cruise, is approximately four hours.

Suburbs and nearby areas

Central Queenstown contains many businesses, apartments and homes but is near many suburbs or large areas of housing which are: Fernhill, Sunshine Bay, Queenstown Hill, Goldfield Heights, Marina Heights, Kelvin Heights, Arthurs Point and Frankton. Just outside of Queenstown are the areas of: Arrowtown, Dalefield, Closeburn, Gibbston, Jack's Point, Lake Hayes Estate and Quail Rise.

Sister cities

Panorama of the view from the Remarkables towards Queenstown Airport, with Queenstown beyond

See also


  • Reed, A. W. (2002). The Reed Dictionary of New Zealand Place Names. Auckland, New Zealand: Reed Books.  


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  2. ^ Jardine, D.G. (1978). Shadows on the Hill. A.H. & A.W. Reed Ltd. p. 187.  
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  4. ^ Miller., F.W.G., (1949), Golden Days of Lake County. Whitcombe and Tombs. p 3-11.
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  16. ^ "Dates set for 2013 Queenstown Winter Festival". Queenstown Winter Festival. 
  17. ^ "Queenstown Jazzfest 2014 - 24-26 October - 3 days of Fantastic Music over Labour Day Weekend". 
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  19. ^ a b "'"Campion shoot is now 'Top of town. Mountain Scene. Queenstown, New Zealand: Scene. 20 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  20. ^ a b Pulver, Andrew (9 February 2013). "Top of the Lake – first look review". Guardian. Guardian News. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  21. ^ "Entertainment: Top of the Lake". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
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  36. ^ Queenstown Skyline Gondola
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  44. ^ "Queenstown Golf Club". 
  45. ^ "Queenstown Disc Golf". 
  46. ^ "Disc Golf in Queenstown, New Zealand.". 
  47. ^ "Queenstown Tennis Club". 
  48. ^ "Queenstown Cricket Club". 
  49. ^ "Home - Wakatipu Netball, Queenstown New Zealand". 
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  55. ^ "The Routeburn Track". 
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  57. ^ [2] (from the NIWA website)
  58. ^ "Climate Data and Activities". NIWA. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  59. ^ Sister Cities
  60. ^ "新西兰皇后镇与杭州"互粉" 杭州"朋友圈"新增3个友好城市 - 杭网原创 - 杭州网". 

External links

  • Queenstown Lakes District Council
  • Queenstown Lakes District Council Community Groups database
  • Queenstown Tourism official site
  • Queenstown Official Visitor GuideQueenstown Tourism's pdf
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Queenstown Airport official site
  • 360queenstown-wanana - information site with 360 degree panorams and virtual tours
  • Otago Daily Times - Queenstown Lakes News
  • NZ Ski The Remarkables
  • Queenstown at DMOZ