Sitting between dramatic mountain ranges and bright-blue Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is one of the prettiest towns in New Zealand – gaining its name because it was deemed ‘fit for a Queen’. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur, someone who’s keen on a little adventure or a Lord of the Rings fan, visiting Queenstown is sure to be a highlight of a vacation in New Zealand. Read on to learn more about Queenstown’s history and MoaTrek’s suggestions for enjoying the very best of what this area has to offer.
Steeped in farming and gold mining history, it wasn’t till the 1950’s that Queenstown became the popular holiday town it is today.
When a pair of sheep shearers discovered gold on the shores of the nearby Arrow River in 1862, Queenstown became an international mining town with a population of several thousand. The gold rush finished in the 1930’s, diminishing the town’s population to fewer than 100. Today, gold is still mined in the surrounding area with the use of modern machinery, and Queenstown has morphed into one of New Zealand’s most popular visitor destinations.
As well as gold seekers, Queenstown has attracted the attention of Hollywood, with surrounding areas playing Lothlorien, the Ford of Bruinen and the Gladden Fields in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. This is Real Middle-earth country at its best.
Home to some of the world’s best Pinot Noir and beautifully structured Reislings, Queenstown makes up part of Central Otago, the world’s southernmost wine region. Here, high sunshine hours and short, hot summers make for beautifully complex wine production. Vineyards are carefully located in beautiful valleys hemmed in by turquoise rivers. Spend a day wine tasting and soaking up the landscape at a few of the region’s most spectacular wineries.
During the 1960’s and 70’s Queenstown’s reputation as an adventure tourism destination was created. The jet boat was invented by a New Zealand farmer to give better access to his high country land, and soon became a popular experience for tourists exploring the Shotover Canyon. This adventure tourism reputation was cemented in 1988 when AJ Hackett and Hanry Van Asch arrived in Queenstown to establish the world’s first commercial bungy jump operation. Following this came tandem paragliding and skydiving, completing Queenstown’s smorgasbord of adventure activities. Jet boating up the Shotover and Kawarau rivers is a great way to experience a little adrenaline while exploring the region’s spectacular landscapes.
Ideas for exploring Queenstown & surrounds:
Relaxation & Walking
- Stroll the easy trails following the shores of beautiful Lake Wakatipu
- Browse the boutique shops and enjoy a gourmet lunch lakeside
Food & wine
- Enjoy an afternoon of wine tasting on the Queenstown Wine Trail
- Take a small group cycling tour around the wineries of the Gibbston Valley
- Explore the spectacular Shotover River and Shotover Canyon with a ride on a jet boat
- Paddle down the Dart river in a kayak, stopping for a picnic along the way
Lord of the Rings
- Take a 4-wheel drive tour of locations that were used in the Lord of the Rings, including Lothlorien, Isengard and Ithilien Camp.
- Take a helicopter flight to the many waterfalls of Earnslaw Burn, where The Company trekked towards the Misty Mountains.
At Moatrek, many of our itineraries include beautiful Queenstown & surrounds; incorporating the perfect mixture of pre-planned activities and free time to explore. Find out more here, or contact us now.