- Cityscape Snowcapped alpine lakeside
- City life Extreme sports paradise
Set on the banks of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is a picture-perfect town with a rich menu of restaurants and bars, amid a searingly beautiful mountain range setting.
While other South Island destinations exude a sleepy Kiwi charm, alpine Queenstown operates at turbo speed with more adventure activities on offer than you could shake a snowboard or bungy cord at. Indeed, there are endless opportunities to scare yourself silly as this hub buzzes with an infectious adrenalin-fuelled energy. Welcome to New Zealand’s year-round high-octane holiday hub – and buckle up – it’s going to be quite a ride.
Do go/Don’t go
Winter (June to September) is peak time for ski buffs, with blue skies, white slopes and crisply cool temperatures. The rest of the year, the city and its spectacular natural surrounds warm up for walking, watersports and more extreme thrills and spills.
- Planes Catch a direct flight to Queenstown Airport (www.queenstownairport.co.nz), eight kilometres east of town, from Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch with Air New Zealand (www.airnewzealand.co.nz), or from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, Australia. Qantas (www.qantas.com.au) also flies to Queenstown from Kiwi cities Auckland, Christchurch and Rotorua and major Oz cities; and Jetstar routes in from Auckland and Christchurch (www.jetstar.com). Mainland Air (www.mainlandair.com) offers charter flights across the South Island. From the airport, a taxi into town costs around NZ$25.
- Boats Cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the evocative, steam-powered TSS Earnslaw (www.zqn.co.nz/earnslaw), with the option of a barbecue and farmyard tour at Walter Peak High Country Farm.
- Trains NZ’s limited, geographically challenged rail service doesn’t extend to Queenstown, but you can hop aboard the Kingston Flyer (www.kingstonflyer.co.nz) for a 14-kilometre heritage steam train ride between Kingston and Fairlight, on the southern edge of Lake Wakatipu.
- Automobiles If you’re based in Queenstown you won’t need a car, as it’s small and pleasantly walkable. However, to explore the surrounding area a car is invaluable. All the major car hire firms have offices at the airport or you can try one of the local companies. Around town the Connectabus (www.connectabus.com) has three colour-coded routes.
- Taxis There is a taxi rank on Camp Street; local firms include Alpine Taxis (03 442 6666) and Queenstown Taxis (03 442 7788).