Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Queenstown
Queenstown View slideshowQueenstown is an old gold-miners' settlement on the east side of Lake Wakatipu, unchallenged as the leading tourist center on the South Island. It is well supplied with hotels and other accommodations and offers a varied program of entertainment and leisure activities throughout the year. For the more energetic tourist there is a choice of activities, including bungee jumping, jet-boat trips, white-water rafting, paragliding and rock climbing.
The town center is charmingly situated beside a promontory that reaches far out into Lake Wakatipu, now beautifully laid out as Queenstown Gardens.The best starting point for a tour of the sights is the Old Stone Library (1877), which is built on to the courthouse. From here the route runs under magnificent old trees into Camp Street. St Peter's Church (1932; Anglican) looks much older than it really is. Church Street leads down to the shores of the lake. Passing the Lake Lodge of St Ophir (1873), you come to the place where William Rees established his sheep farm, the Camp, in the early 19th C.Continue to Queenstown Gardens. On the way back, at the end of the Mall (pedestrian zone), you come to Eichardt's Tavern, which has been on this site since 1871.
There is plenty of scope for pony trekking in the hills round Queenstown, and for rides to some of the large sheep farms or abandoned goldfields in the area. Other activities for the adventurous are tandem parachute jumps, paragliding and ballooning. A trip in a balloon is a marvelous way of seeing the beautiful country round Queenstown.
On the pier at the end of the Mall is Underwater World, where trout and eels are visible in the clear waters of the lake; they are fed here, but otherwise live freely in the lake. Beside the pier are marks showing the level to which the lake rose in the floods of 1878 and 1983.
A steam train, the Kingston Flyer, runs between Kingston, at the southeast end of Lake Wakatipu, and the little township of Fairlight.
At Steamer Wharf is moored the old-time steamer Earnslaw.
A trip through the 20km long Skipper's Canyon in a specially equipped bus is an exciting experience. Drivers who do the trip in a hired car are not covered by insurance.The return trip can be by jet boat for part of the way.Those interested in Bungy jumping can do a 104 m (340 ft) jump from an old gold-mining bridge over Skipper's Canyon.
A cableway, the Skyline Gondola, runs up to the summit of Bob's Peak (446 m; 252), from which there is an overwhelming view. Immediately below is Queenstown; beyond this is Lake Wakatipu; and beyond this again, forming a striking backdrop, are the peaks of the Remarkables.
The Shotover River is a challenge to the adventurous visitor, with trips by jet boat in which the steersman has to battle against strong currents, and white-water rafting in kayaks or rubber dinghies. There are organized rafting trips lasting several days, with overnight accommodation in tents.
SS Earnslaw Cruises
Cruises on the SS Earnslaw, which first went into service in 1912, are very popular. Some of the cruises include visits to sheep farms that are accessible only by boat. (The ship is taken out of service in June for its annual overhaul.)
Queenstown is the most popular winter-sports center in New Zealand, the season lasting from June to September or October. Coronet Peak (1650m), 15km north of the town, has excellent skiing facilities.
This walk, a circuit which takes about four days, runs through the valleys of the Greenstone and Caples Rivers, which both flow into Lake Wakatipu. The best starting-point is Elfin Bay, on the west side of Lake Wakatipu.
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