Queenstown (Māori: Tāhuna)[2] is a resort town in Otago in the south-west of New Zealand's South Island. It has an urban population of 15,850 (June 2018),[3] making it the 27th-largest urban area in New Zealand. In 2016, Queenstown overtook Oamaru to become the second-largest urban area in Otago, behind Dunedin.


Tāhuna  (Māori)
Queenstown from Bob's Peak
Queenstown from Bob's Peak
Queenstown is located in New Zealand
Coordinates: 45°01′52″S 168°39′45″E / 45.03111°S 168.66250°E / -45.03111; 168.66250Coordinates: 45°01′52″S 168°39′45″E / 45.03111°S 168.66250°E / -45.03111; 168.66250
Country New Zealand
Region Otago
Territorial authorityQueenstown-Lakes District
NamedJanuary 1863 [1]
Founded byWilliam Gilbert Rees
 • MayorJim Boult
 • Urban
25.55 km2 (9.86 sq mi)
 (June 2018)
 • Urban
 • Urban density620/km2 (1,600/sq mi)
 • District
Time zoneUTC+12:00 (NZST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+13:00 (NZDT)
Area code(s)03
Local iwiNgāi Tahu

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

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 39,100 (June 2018).[3] Neighbouring towns include Arrowtown, Glenorchy, Kingston, Wanaka, Alexandra, and Cromwell. The nearest cities are Dunedin and Invercargill. Queenstown is known for its commerce-oriented tourism, especially adventure and ski tourism.



Māori settlement and presenceEdit

The area was discovered and first settled by Māori before non-Māori arrived. The first non-Māori to see Lake Wakatipu was European 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). A settlement called Te Kirikiri Pa was occupied by the tribe of Kāti Māmoe which was situated where the Queenstown Gardens are today, but by the time European migrants arrived in the 1860s this settlement was no longer being used.[5]

Subsequent European settlersEdit

European explorers William Gilbert Rees and Nicholas von Tunzelmann were the first non-Maoris 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 Queenstown was named, however the following is the most likely:

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

The miners, and especially the Irish, had taken an interest in the ceremony held for a town called Cobh in Ireland (then part of the United Kingdom) which was renamed 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.

There was then a public meeting to name 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 9 and 10 January 1863 the town was being reported with the name of Queenstown in several reports written by a correspondent in the Otago Witness on 5 and 6 January.[8][9] During the meeting there may have been a reference by a miner to the town being "fit for a Queen" (this is one of the most popular accounts of how the town was named).

Tāhuna, the Māori-language name for Queenstown, means "shallow bay".[5]


Queenstown is situated on the shore of Lake Wakatipu, the third largest lake by surface area in New Zealand. The town is located close to the lake's northeastern bend, at which point a small arm, the Frankton Arm, joins the lake with its principal outflow, the Kawarau River. The centre of the town is on the north shore at the point where the Frankton Arm links with the main body of the lake, but also extends to the major suburb of Frankton at the eastern end of the arm, and across to Kelvin Heights on the Kelvin Peninsula, which forms the Frankton Arm's southern shore.

The town is at a relatively low altitude for a ski and snowboarding centre, at 310 metres (1,020 ft) above sea level at the lake shore, but is nestled among mountains, most notably the scenic attraction of The Remarkables, to the town's southeast. Below the lake lies the deep Kawarau Gorge, and there are nearby plains suitable for agriculture[citation needed] and viticulture. Queenstown lies close to the heart of the Central Otago wine region.


Central Queenstown contains many businesses, apartments and homes but is near many suburbs or large areas of housing: Fernhill, Sunshine Bay, Queenstown Hill, Goldfield Heights, Marina Heights, Kelvin Heights, Arthurs Point and Frankton.

Just outside Queenstown are the areas of: Arrowtown, Closeburn, Dalefield, Gibbston, Jack's Point, Hayes Creek, Lake Hayes Estate, Shotover Country and Quail Rise.

Housing in Queenstown (top) and Kelvin Heights (bottom)


Because of its relatively moderate altitude (310 metres) and high mountain surroundings, Queenstown has an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb).[10] 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 than 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).[11]

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[12]


Growth and affordabilityEdit

Residential housing in the Queenstown area is quite expensive due to factors such as the town being a tourist destination, its lack of land and its desirability to foreigners and investors. Queenstown is rated the least affordable place in New Zealand to buy a property, overtaking Auckland at the start of 2017.[13][14] In December 2016 the average house price in the Queenstown area rose to $1 million NZD.[15]


The area’s growth rate is one of the fastest in the country with the population growing 7.1% from 2015 to 2016 in a 12-month period. Most jobs in Queenstown are tourism- or accommodation-related. Employment growth was also the highest of any area in New Zealand at 10.3% in the March 2016 year.[16]


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

A resort town, Queenstown boasted 220 adventure tourism activities in 2012.[17] Skiing and snowboarding, jet boating, whitewater rafting, bungy jumping, mountain biking,[17] 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,[18] 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.[19][20] The Two Paddocks vineyard is owned by internationally known local actor Sam Neill.[21] Neighbouring, historic Arrowtown features restaurants and bars.

Other tourist activities include:



Queenstown has many festivals.[25] Examples include the Bike Festival (March/April),[26] Winter Festival (June),[27], Jazz Festival (October),[28] and Winter Pride (September) which is the largest winter pride event in the Southern Hemisphere.

Locations for television and filmEdit

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,[29] and the Southern Alps spectacular. The main location is Moke Lake[30][31] and scenes were shot on Lower Beach Street and Coronation Drive, and at a supermarket and bottle store on Shotover Street.[30]

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

Queenstown and the surrounding area contain many locations used in the filming of 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 Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai, which was partially shot there. Starring sensational debuts by Hrithik Roshan & Amisha Patel it was this film that opened the doors for both tourists and filmmakers from India to New Zealand with Queenstown being the most sought-after destination. Queenstown featured for 17 minutes in I Hate Luv Storys, a 2010 Bollywood romantic comedy. Queenstown and the surrounding areas were also used in the 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine film. Mee-Shee: The Water Giant was shot in Queenstown in 2005, and released to DVD in the same year. Queenstown was also used to film most of the 1988 The Rescue. Queenstown was the base for filming the George Lucas 1988 fantasy film 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.

A 1989 TV Commercial for the Toyota Hilux starring Barry Crump and Lloyd Scott in which the two drive off the cliff was filmed at nearby Queenstown Hill.

The first and last episodes of the fifth season of The Mole were filmed in Queenstown.

The 2017 Filipino drama film Northern Lights was shot entirely on location in Queenstown substituting for the setting of Alaska.[32]

In 2017 the Korean variety show Running Man shot an episode in Queenstown, where Haha and Yang-Se Chan took a penalty at the Nevis Swing.[citation needed]

Sports and recreationEdit

In the AreaEdit

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


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

As a resort centre, many bus services operate into Queenstown, mostly for package tours, but daily services for locals and others are available to and from Invercargill, Dunedin and Christchurch, the main cities closest to Queenstown.

Queenstown Airport takes flights from Australia by airlines Air New Zealand, Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar and has destinations that include Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne and Sydney (the frequency is much increased over the ski season and during summer). Domestic flights fly to Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. 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 State Highway 6 (SH6), from Cromwell through the Kawarau Gorge to Frankton, where a 9 km spur (SH6A) leads to the CBD and connects with the Glenorchy Road. SH6 continues south, crossing the Kawarau river before heading down the eastern side of Lake Wakatipu to 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 pass.[49]

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


Wakatipu High School is a government co-ed school which services the community for students in years 9–13.[50]

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

Southern Institute of Technology (SIT), based in Invercargill, has a campus in Queenstown.[51]

Queenstown Resort College is a tertiary education provider focussing on tourism. The college actively supports events for international travel agents.[52]

ACE Wakatipu has a community focus, and provides links to many adult training opportunities.[53]

Notable peopleEdit

Sister citiesEdit

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

See alsoEdit


  • Reed, A. W. (2002). The Reed Dictionary of New Zealand Place Names. Auckland, New Zealand: Reed Books. ISBN 0-7900-0761-4.


  1. ^ Jardine, D.G. (1978). Shadows on the Hill. A.H. & A.W. Reed Ltd. p. 187. ISBN 0589010093.
  2. ^ "Queenstown". Victoria University. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2018 (provisional)". Statistics New Zealand. 23 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018. For urban areas, "Subnational population estimates (UA, AU), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996, 2001, 2006-18 (2017 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. 23 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  4. ^ Miller., F.W.G., (1949), Golden Days of Lake County. Whitcombe and Tombs. p 3-11.
  5. ^ a b "Spiritual bond to first people". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  6. ^ "Queenstown history – William Gilbert Rees".
  7. ^ "Queenstown". New Zealand History. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  8. ^ "The Dunstan". Otago Witness. 5 January 1863. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  9. ^ "The Dunstan". Otago Witness. 6 January 1863. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  10. ^ "Statistics for NZL Queenstown". Department of Energy. 2010. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
  11. ^ [1] (from the NIWA website)
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  13. ^ "Residential house values". Quotable Value. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
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  18. ^ "Waiorau Snowfarm". Destinations. Australia: Canberra Alpine Club.
  19. ^ Lucy Gillmore (19 March 2006). "A tasting trip to the southernmost vineyards in the world". The Independent. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  20. ^ "Central Otago Wineries and Wine Region". Wines of New Zealand. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  21. ^ Cathy Scott. "Two Paddocks: Our Story".
  22. ^ Queenstown Skyline Gondola Archived 22 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "Kiwi Birdlife Park". Kiwi Birdlife Park.
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  26. ^ "Home " Queenstown Bike Festival". Queenstown Bike Festival.
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  32. ^ http://www.philstar.com/entertainment/2017/03/06/1678533/yen-santos-love-scene-piolo-pascual-kota-na-ko
  33. ^ "SkyTrek – tandem hang gliding & paragliding – Queenstown".
  34. ^ Graham Barker. "Aerobatics over Queenstown".
  35. ^ "Trial Flight – Ever Dreamed of Flying".
  36. ^ "Golf " Jack's Point".
  37. ^ "Queenstown Golf Club".
  38. ^ "Queenstown Disc Golf".
  39. ^ "Disc Golf in Queenstown, New Zealand".
  40. ^ "Queenstown Tennis Club".
  41. ^ "Queenstown Cricket Club".
  42. ^ "Home – Wakatipu Netball, Queenstown New Zealand".
  43. ^ Wakatipu Rugby League Club Archived 5 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  44. ^ "About Us".
  45. ^ "One-touch rugby". Mountain Scene. Queenstown, New Zealand: Scene. 20 October 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  46. ^ "Touch Southland". Invercargill, New Zealand. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  47. ^ "Bathroom Renovation Wellington NZ".
  48. ^ "The Routeburn Track".
  49. ^ "What is the highest state highway in New Zealand?". New Zealand Transport Agency. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  50. ^ "Wakatipu High School". Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  51. ^ Chandler, Philip (5 July 2012). "SIT cuts teacher hours". Mountain Scene. Queenstown, New Zealand: Scene. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  52. ^ Lamont, Sarah (1 March 2012). "Rare window opens for Queenstown". Southland Times. Fairfax. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  53. ^ "Adult Learning Link Wakatipu: Wakatipu Adult Classes".
  54. ^ Sister Cities Archived 29 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  55. ^ "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".
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External linksEdit