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Corner Stanley Beetham Streets, Queenstown
1,2,3 4 bedroom apartments plus penthouses, located just 300 metres from the town centre. Elegantly appointed accommodation in a great central location.
Visit Arrowtown to learn of the gold mining past and see the Chinese miners village, half day
Shotover jet boat ride, 2 hours
Bungy jump at one of 5 different sites, 1 hour
Ride the TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station for a hearty farm cooked dinner, 3 hours
or just make the scenic return trip.
Paraglide off Bob s Peak, 2 hours
Ride the gondola and race down by luge, 2 hours
Visit Milford or Doubtful Sound, full day
Ski at Coronet Peak or the Remarkables snow fields, full day
Go canyon swinging, 2 hours
Take a jet boat ride through Paradise, half day
Go four wheel driving in Skippers Canyon, half day
Christchurch Queenstown, 6 hours
Dunedin Queenstown, 4.5 hours
Lake Tekapo Queenstown, 3.5 hours
Queenstown Population: 10,000
Often referred to as the Adventure Capital of the World, this alpine resort town, set along the edges of mysterious Lake Wakatipu has grown at a remarkable rate over the past 20 years. The adventure activities here seem endless but can distract from just how beautiful the surroundings are. The view across the lake to the Remarkables mountain range is one of the most photographed in the Southern Lakes region. There is always a buzz about the town, whatever the season. Snow worshippers come in winter and adrenaline junkies in the summer. They throw themselves off bridges, pit themselves against raging rivers, leap off mountains and hurl themselves down snowy slopes. Most these things can be found elsewhere, but they all come to Queenstown to do it. There just isn t anywhere else quite like it. Of course Queenstown has a more leisurely side. There are numerous walks in the area, cruising on the TSS Earnslaw , a vintage steamship still plying the lake on a daily basis and the sedate ride to the top of Bob s Peak by gondola affording panoramic views of the town, lake and mountains to name a few. Caf and restaurant culture is varied and of excellent quality and the shopping of a calibre expected in an international resort. Most people fall in love with Queenstown and vow to return someday.
History and Culture
According to Maori legend, Matau, a fearsome giant, stole the beautiful princess Manata away from her tribe. Her father, the chief, offered her hand in marriage to the man who freed her. Only the warrior Matakauri was brave enough. He found the giant sleeping in a valley with Manata tied up nearby. With all his might he could not break the rope with his pounamu axe. In desperation, Manata begged him to flee before the giant woke. Her tears broke the magical bonds and he swept her to safety. The warrior returned and built a fire around Matau which burned fiercely and etched his outline into the ground, which is now the 80 kilometre (50 mile) long Lake Wakatipu, with the feet at Kingston, knees at Queenstown and head at Glenorchy.
The mysterious twist in the tale is that the lake actually rises and falls around 12-20 centimetres (5-8 inches) every few minutes, which is said to be the giant’s heart still beating. A more prosaic scientific explanation is that the movement is to do with wind and wave motion over the extremely deep lake.
Maori foraging parties first came to this area via the valley systems of Southland and Otago in search of food, fibre and stone resources. They hunted the large, flightless moa and they discovered sources of pounamu (greenstone) at the head of Lake Wakatipu. Expeditions into the area continued up until the middle of the 19th century, but permanent settlement was generally limited to seasonal occupation. A few groups stayed two or three years before returning to the coast.
The Gardens Peninsula was the site of a Maori Pa occupied by the people of the Katimamoe tribe. Maori tradition tells of the first woman to swim across Lake Wakatipu — a distance of some 3km. Hakitekura, daughter of Tuwiriroa, a Katimamoe chief, asked for a kaueti (firestick) and a dry bunch of raupo. She bound them tightly in flax to keep them dry. Early the next morning, determined to out-swim all the girls in the village, she set out across the Lake. Hakitekura navigated by keeping an eye on Cecil and Walter Peaks whose tops, touched by dawn’s first light, “twinkled and winked” at her; hence their name Kakamu-a-Hakitekura (the twinklings seen by Hakitekura). She landed on Refuge Point (Te Ahi-a-Hakitekura) and lit a fire, which is why, so the tradition goes, the rocks there are black to this day.
In 1860 Welshman and godfather of famous cricketer W.G. Grace, William Gilbert Rees along with Nicholas Von Tunzelman came to the area to develop its pastoral potential. They burned much of the beech forest and shrub land to open up grazing land. Later, trees such as Douglas fir, larch, sycamore, willow and poplar were planted to “enhance” the “barren” landscape. Fir has been favoured by local conditions and is now rapidly invading the alpine tussock lands. Today wild tree control is necessary to protect the natural landscape.
Thomas Low and John MacGregor discovered gold in the Arrow River, which led to other discoveries in the Shotover River in 1862. The gold rush peaked in 1863 with the pastoral lease of W.G. Rees being cancelled and a goldfield declared for which he received 10,000 compensation. Rees accepted the inevitable and turned his hand to supplying miners with food on his boat the Undine . His boat was also used to carry out the precious gold until this function was taken over by police launch. By 1865, the Westland gold rush had begun and this saw an exodus of miners, which left two-thirds of the buildings in Queenstown vacant.
Advancements in mining methods led to quartz crushing and by the 1870 s gold was being mined from the quartz reefs of Macetown, Mt Aurum and the Shotover River. Up to this point, mining had been of the alluvial deposits. The 1930 s saw another revival of gold mining as a result of hardships of the Depression.
Nowadays the jewel in Queenstown s crown is tourism. New Zealand s first commercial ski field opened at Coronet Peak fifty years ago. Since then thrill seeking locals have devised some unbelievable pursuits which now form some of the best adrenaline adventures available in the world. This is after all the spiritual home of commercial bungy and 5 jump sites are currently operational. The Shotover River canyons provide a hair raising thrill for Shotover Jet Boat rides taken by many thousands of visitors each year. The adventure spirit is evident wherever you look. Whilst relaxing over a coffee in Queenstown you can even watch people paragliding off mountains high above the village. In Queenstown s compact centre, adventure is never far away.