Queenstown is nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, which means “growing bay” or “bay of spirits” in Māori. The third largest lake in New Zealand was created by a glacier more than 15,000 years ago. Its surface rises and falls by 10 to 20cm every half hour. Some call it magic, the indigenous Māori say it’s the heartbeat of a monster named Matau, others say it’s a combination of wind and atmospheric pressure. You can cross the lake in the vintage steamship T.S.S. Earnslaw and enjoy some magnificent vistas.
Queenstown is best admired from above, and the Skyline Gondola offers the perfect opportunity for some stunning panoramic views, indulgence and adventure combined. Enjoy a thrilling ride down the luge, hop on a mountain bike for some downhill racing or grab a delicious meal at the Stratosfare restaurant. Stay up until after dark and admire the stars above for a special experience.
The majestic mountain ranges towering over Queenstown make for an impressive sight. They also attract thousands of visitors each winter who frolic on the slopes of The Remarkables ski field. The season usually lasts from June to October with an average snowfall of just over 3.5 metres per year.
The most prominent of the sounds in Fiordland National Park is a natural wonder in itself. Lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls and the iconic Mitre Peak make for some unforgettable photographs. Milford Sound is also home to fur seal colonies, penguins and dolphins which can be frequently seen from the many cruise boats touring the waters. Another option to explore the sound is via the Milford Track, a four-day hike considered to be one of the best in the world.
The charming town about half an hour away from Queenstown has a rich history in the most literal of senses. Arrowtown was one of the most popular gold rush villages in the 1860s, and the tiny little miners’ cottages still have lots of stories to tell about the past. In addition, you can enjoy browsing the streets full of quirky cafes and shops as well as traditional pubs and restaurants.
Only a 45-minute scenic drive from Queenstown along the shoreline of Lake Wakatipu, the rustic town of Glenorchy has gained international fame. It was featured in both, the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy as well as the “Narnia” movies. The area is popular for hiking and horse trekking.
Located on the outskirts of the Southern Alps and close to Mt. Aspiring National Park, Lake Wanaka is a hub for outdoor activities. Pristine waterfalls, native forests and majestic mountains are best explored on foot or via mountain bike. New Zealand’s fourth largest lake is also popular for water sports from kayaking and sailing to paddle-boarding and jet boating.
Also known as the “valley of the vines”, Gibbston Valley produces some of the finest wines in the world. Above all, the pinot noir has gained worldwide recognition and international awards. There are 12 wineries with about half of the open to the public for tasting. The region is also knowns for its delicious cheeses, so take a seat, relax and enjoy.