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Whakatipu Queenstown Stoke your energy in the adventure capital of New Zealand
Two people stroking a Highland Cow at Walter Peak Two people stroking a Highland Cow at Walter Peak
Woman laughing on the TSS Earnslaw Woman laughing on the TSS Earnslaw

Whakatipu Queenstown

Experience the best of Whakatipu Queenstown through a wide range of activities from vintage steamship cruises, farm tours and long lunches at Walter Peak to jet boating and whitewater rafting.


A spectacular alpine resort with magnificent scenery, Queenstown is set on the shores of crystal clear Lake Whakatipu and is a four season destination.

A trip aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw is one of the town’s iconic experiences – much more than a lake cruise, this is a trip back in time, a vantage point for some of the world’s most spectacular scenery, plus your ticket to a working sheep station. 

Disembarking at Walter Peak High Country Farm there are many ways to experience a traditional New Zealand way of life.  You can choose to interact with animals in a Farm Tour, head into the high country with a Horse Trek or explore further afield on the back roads with the Independent cycling options.

Most tours include a superb morning or afternoon tea at the Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant and time for a wander around the glorious lakeside colonial gardens. You can stay for a sizzling Gourmet Barbecue Lunch or make a special dinner trip culminating in an expansive evening meal. If you are looking for a superb restaurant in Queenstown, the Colonel's Homestead Restaurant is more than just dining but an experience in itself!

The TSS Earnslaw is a ‘must do’ activity in Queenstown, and you’ll surely be disappointed if you don’t plan to stay a while at her destination.

Queenstown is the perfect place to base yourself and explore the local areas - we offer a range of activities and tours from Queenstown to Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Te Anau and Stewart Island.

TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship cruising into Queenstown Bay

TSS Earnslaw and Queenstown

Getting to Queenstown

The town of Queenstown is well connected by air and by road.

You can fly into Queenstown from all the main centres domestically – Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Internationally, Queenstown is connected to Australia with direct flights from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Queenstown is served by major airlines all year round – Air New Zealand, Qantas and Jetstar. 

Driving to Queenstown by road is pretty spectacular. You can drive yourself, take a bus or join a coach tour. By road it takes around 6 hours to get to Queenstown from Christchurch. 

Queenstown History

Visited by Maori in search of Pounamu and food from the 11th Century, the first European settlers came in search of grazing land in the 1850s.

Gold discovery in 1862 sparked a prospecting rush and within a year, Queenstown was a permanently settled mining town with a population of several thousand.
It is said that Queenstown was so named when a local gold digger declared the town ‘fit for Queen Victoria’.

Lake Whakatipu was the area’s transport artery and in 1912, the TSS Earnslaw was launched at Kingston on the southern tip of the lake.

After the gold industry declined, the population shrunk until the 1950s when the town’s reputation as a holiday destination began to take hold.

In 1970, Te Anau company RealNZ – then known as Fiordland Travel – bought the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw as the town’s tourism appeal began to spread internationally.

Adventure tourism credentials became established throughout the 1980s. In 1984, Queenstown Milford Sound coach connections were established. In 1987 aircraft connections between the two destinations began.

In 1988 Bungy Jumping from Kawarau Bridge truly launched Queenstown as the adventure tourism capital of the world.

Queenstown is now well known as one of the world’s great year round tourism resorts popular with people from all over the world.

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Queenstown lies at latitude 45 degrees and within the rain shadow of the Southern Alps. It enjoys a temperate maritime climate including four distinct seasons:

  • Spring (September – November): Average temperatures between 3°C and 20°C
  • Summer (December – February): Average temperatures between 10°C and 25°C
  • Autumn (March – May): Average temperatures between 3°C and 20°C
  • Winter (June – August): Average temperatures between -2°C and 8°C
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