|Territorial authority||Queenstown-Lakes District|
|Named||January 1863 |
|Founded by||William Gilbert Rees|
Te Tai Tonga
|• Mayor||Glyn Lewers|
|• Urban||28.36 km2 (10.95 sq mi)|
|• Urban density||560/km2 (1,400/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+12:00 (NZST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+13:00 (NZDT)|
|Local iwi||Ngāi 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 Hāwea, Wakatipu, and Wānaka. The region has an estimated resident population of 49,500 (June 2022). Neighbouring towns include Arrowtown, Glenorchy, Kingston, Wānaka, 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 presence Edit
The area was discovered and first settled by Māori. Kāi Tahu say that the lake was dug by the Waitaha ancestor, Rākaihautū, with his kō (digging stick) named Tūwhakaroria. After arriving at Whakatū Nelson in the waka Uruao, Rākaihautū divided his crew into two. He led one group through the interior of Te Waipounamu, digging the freshwater lakes of the island. After digging the lakes Hāwea, Wānaka, and Whakatipu Waimāori, he travelled through the Greenstone and Hollyford valleys before finally digging Whakatipu Waitai (Lake McKerrow).
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. 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.
European settlement c. 1860 Edit
European explorers William Gilbert Rees and Nicholas von Tunzelmann were the first non-Māori 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.
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 (now Artbay Gallery), 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 gained its name, of which the following appears to be 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. 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.
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 9–10 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.
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 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.
Because of its relatively moderate altitude (310 metres) and high mountain surroundings, Queenstown has an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb). 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, Wānaka and Alexandra. The hottest recorded temperature in Queenstown is 34.1 °C (93 °F), while the coldest is −8.4 °C (17 °F).
|Climate data for Queenstown Airport (1981–2010), extremes (1968-present)|
|Record high °C (°F)||33.4
|Average high °C (°F)||21.7
|Daily mean °C (°F)||15.7
|Average low °C (°F)||9.7
|Record low °C (°F)||0.3
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||63.9
|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 1: NIWA Climate Data|
|Source 2: CliFlo|
Queenstown is described by Statistics New Zealand as a medium urban area with an area of 28.36 km2 (10.95 sq mi). It had an urban population of 15,800 (June 2022), making it the 35th-largest urban area in New Zealand. In 2016, Queenstown overtook Oamaru to become the second-largest urban area in Otago, behind Dunedin. The Queenstown urban area as defined by Statistics New Zealand doesn't include Lake Hayes or Arthurs Point, which are contiguous with Queenstown but are designated as separate urban areas. The combined population of the three urban areas is 23,920.
The Queenstown urban area had a population of 13,539 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 2,205 people (19.5%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 3,111 people (29.8%) since the 2006 census. There were 4,254 households. There were 7,089 males and 6,447 females, giving a sex ratio of 1.1 males per female, with 1,341 people (9.9%) aged under 15 years, 4,887 (36.1%) aged 15 to 29, 6,264 (46.3%) aged 30 to 64, and 1,041 (7.7%) aged 65 or older.
Ethnicities were 71.2% European/Pākehā, 4.5% Māori, 1.2% Pacific peoples, 17.8% Asian, and 10.5% other ethnicities (totals add to more than 100% since people could identify with multiple ethnicities).
The proportion of people born overseas was 58.3%, compared with 27.1% nationally.
Although some people objected to giving their religion, 58.5% had no religion, 29.1% were Christian, 2.8% were Hindu, 0.6% were Muslim, 1.7% were Buddhist and 3.4% had other religions.
Of those at least 15 years old, 3,234 (26.5%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 759 (6.2%) people had no formal qualifications. 1,692 people (13.9%) earned over $70,000 compared to 17.2% nationally. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 9,165 (75.1%) people were employed full-time, 1,263 (10.4%) were part-time, and 138 (1.1%) were unemployed.
|Name||Area (km2)||Population||Density (per km2)||Households||Median age||Median income|
|Frankton Arm||1.20||1,917||1,598||603||31.2 years||$41,200|
|Kelvin Heights||9.28||1,170||126||447||43.4 years||$44,800|
|Queenstown Central||0.81||1,017||1,256||261||30.0 years||$34,300|
|Quail Rise||6.27||708||113||234||40.5 years||$49,200|
|Queenstown East||0.98||1,416||1,445||441||30.5 years||$38,800|
|Sunshine Bay-Fernhill||1.31||2,931||2,237||861||29.6 years||$37,600|
|Warren Park||0.94||1,485||1,580||390||28.7 years||$34,200|
|New Zealand||37.4 years||$31,800|
Growth and affordability Edit
Residential housing in the Queenstown area is 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. In December 2016 the average house price in the Queenstown area rose to $1 million NZD. Between 2016 and 2019, average rents in Queenstown rose progressively; reaching 10.8% in 2016, 16% in 2017, and 7.4% in 2018, and 9.6% in 2019. 2018 census data showed 27 percent of Queenstown homes were marked as unoccupied.
During the early 2020s, Queenstown experienced a decline in rental housing. Between December 2021 and December 2022, the online auction platform Trade Me reported a 49% decline in rental listings across the Queenstown-Lakes District. Similarly, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) reported that the number of rental houses in the District had dropped by 100 between November 2021 and November 2022. Despite a building boom in 2022, Stuff reported that 27% of homes in the Lakes District were unoccupied since their owners preferred to use them as holiday homes or short-term accommodation rather than rentals By November 2022, Radio New Zealand reported that the average home in the Lakes District cost NZ$1.7 million while a three-bedroom rental cost a minimum of NZ$800 per week and a single bedroom rental NZ$500 or more per week.
In October 2022, Environment Minister David Parker confirmed that the New Zealand Government had fast-tracked the Te Pūtahi project at Lake Hayes Estate to build 748 more homes, a public transport area, and a possible school.
By early 2023, Stuff, Radio New Zealand, and The New Zealand Herald reported that a shortage of rental housing had forced many workers and businesspeople to sleep in cars, couches, tents, visitor hostels, and others to leave the town. In addition, the housing shortage had contributed to a worker shortage among local businesses since they had trouble attracting foreign visa workers or those from outside Queenstown. The Herald also reported that some workers in Queenstown were asking local rental agents if they could stay in vacant properties being sold. In late March 2023, 100 people participated in a protest at Queenstown's waterfront to raise awareness of the resort town's acute rental housing shortage. The protest was attended by National Party Southland electorate Member of Parliament Joseph Mooney and Queenstown Lakes District Councillor Craig Ferguson.
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.
In 1986, Queenstown was granted an exemption to allow shops to open every day of the year except Christmas Day, Easter Sunday and before 12 noon on Anzac Day (at the time, shops in New Zealand were required to close on Sundays and public holidays). The exemption was extended in 1990 allow shops to open on Easter Sunday. The exemption applies to all shops in a 35-kilometre (22 mi) radius of the intersection of Camp Street and Ballarat Street in central Queenstown, and makes Queenstown and the Lake Wakatipu basin one of only three areas in New Zealand where shops may open on Good Friday (the other two are Picton and Paihia).
For the New Zealand Parliament, Queenstown is covered by one general electorate, Southland, and one Maori electorate, Te Tai Tonga. As of the 2020 general election, Southland is represented by Joseph Mooney (National) and Te Tai Tonga is represented by Rino Tirikatene (Labour).
A resort town, Queenstown boasted 220 adventure tourism activities in 2012. Skiing and snowboarding, jet boating, whitewater rafting, bungy jumping, mountain biking, 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, near Cardrona village.
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 internationally known local actor Sam Neill. Neighbouring, historic Arrowtown features restaurants and bars.
Other tourist activities include:
- Ben Lomond, a nearby mountain for a view of the area
- The gondola known as Skyline Queenstown ascends Bob's Peak on Ben Lomond
- Kiwi Birdlife Park and Paradise for the paradise duck (Tadorna variegata)
- Walk, mountain bike, or run The Queenstown Trail
- Skippers Road
- Scenic flights
- Cecil Peak Station, on the western shore of Lake Wakatipu, a 34,000-acre working sheep and beef farm.
Queenstown has many festivals. Examples include the ten-day Bike Festival (March/April), Winter Festival (June), Jazz Festival (October), and Winter Pride (September) which is the largest winter pride event in the Southern Hemisphere.
Locations for television and film Edit
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, and the Southern Alps spectacular. The main location is Moke Lake and scenes were shot on Lower Beach Street and Coronation Drive, and at a supermarket and bottle store on Shotover Street.
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 and 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.
The first and last episodes of the fifth season of The Mole were filmed in Queenstown.
Sports and recreation Edit
- Queenstown Events Centre and stadium
- Paragliding or Hang Gliding
- Aerobatics with the Wakatipu Aero Club at Queenstown Airport at Frankton
- Golf at Millbrook Resort, Jack's Point, or Queenstown Golf Club
- Disc golf at the Queenstown Gardens
- Tennis at the Queenstown Tennis Club in Queenstown Gardens
- Cricket at the Queenstown Cricket Club
- Netball at the Wakatipu Netball Centre
- Rugby league and Rugby union at the Wakatipu Rugby League Club Memorial Park
- Touch rugby during the summer season
- Scuba diving or snorkeling in a river, bridge wreck, or in Lake Wakatipu
- Adventure sport, canyon-swing, parachute, jetboat, bungy jump, river-surf, or kitesurf
In the area Edit
Primary schools Edit
Secondary schools Edit
Tertiary education Edit
Queenstown Resort College is a tertiary education provider focussing on tourism. The college actively supports events for international travel agents.
ACE Wakatipu has a community focus, and provides links to many adult training opportunities.
Saint Andrew's church Edit
Saint Andrew's Presbyterian church was completed in 1968 to replace the previous church which was sold and demolished to reuse the land. The church is designed to seat 350 parishioners. The Presbyterian church has been active in the Wakatipu area since 1865.
Saint Peter's church Edit
Saint Peter's Anglican church was built in 1932 for a cost of 2862 pounds, it was consecrated on 23 November 1932. It replaced the previous wooden church which was built in 1863.
Saint Joseph's church Edit
Saint Joseph's Catholic church was built in 1898, it replaced the first catholic church built in Queenstown in 1863. It is built from schist sourced from Arthur's Point. Built in the Gothic Revival style, it was designed by the architect Francis WIlliam Petre. It is a category two historic place.
Saint Joseph's Catholic Church
Saint Peter's Anglican Church
Saint Andrew's Presbyterian Church
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. Bee Cards replaced GoCards on local buses on 15 September 2020.
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 / Piopiotahi and Aoraki / 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 Wānaka, and is New Zealand's highest paved public road pass.
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.
In September 2023, there was an outbreak of illness caused by cryptosporidium in Queenstown, with most cases located in the central business area and affecting people under the age of 40. Health officials were unable to immediately link the cases, or identify the source of the outbreak, and described the outbreak as very unusual. A "boil water" notice was issued for all water supplies across Queenstown. The regulator Taumata Arowai issued a compliance order to the Queenstown Lakes District Council for one of its water treatment plants, because it did not have a protozoa barrier to prevent cryptosporidium entering the water supply.
Electricity distribution in Queenstown is the responsibility of two companies, Dunedin-based Aurora Energy and Invercargill-based Powernet. Electricity is supplied from Transpower's national grid at its substation in Frankton, which in turn is fed by a twin-circuit 110,000-volt line from Transpower's Cromwell substation.
Queenstown was one of the last towns in New Zealand with a manual telephone exchange, whereby all calls had to be connected by an operator. The town was upgraded to a fully automatic exchange in 1988. Fibre to the premises was rolled-out in Queenstown as part of the Fifth National Government's Ultra-Fast Broadband programme, with the rollout completed in July 2016.
Notable people Edit
Sister cities Edit
See also Edit
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Queenstown (New Zealand) travel guide from Wikivoyage
Media related to Queenstown, New Zealand at Wikimedia Commons