I have just returned from New Zealand. I hired GINZ.COM, Michael Ness ( email@example.com).
Recommended for NZ official web page.
Excellent trip and service . I saved a lot of money.
Dunedin, Te Anau, Queenstown and more.
Fondest memory: Beautiful city with the lake , mountains and alpine landscape.
We were at Arrowtown on a wet day, so this meant popping in and out of every possible shop here!
One of my favorites was the "Remarkable Sweet shop", I just love these shops that are full of "old fashioned" lollies, all lined up in their glass jars! What to buy is the problem, the choice was too great!
For Dutch people, they sell Dutch licorace here, so this was a good gift for me to take back home to some Dutch friends! There is so much, take a look at their website on what they have to offer.
There were lots of shops selling nice woollen sweaters and other clothing, quite expensive prices, just looked as we didn't need the winter Woolies.
In one clothing shop, these cute little stuffed Bunnies were on display, I don't think the shop assistant was too happy that I asked for a photo, but didn't buy anything! It was all too expensive!
The TSS Earnslaw is the last surviving and the grandest Steamship to have ever graced lake Wakatipu.
It is named after Mount Earnslaw, the highest peak in the area. Built in Dunedin, it was dismantled and transported by rail to Kingston at the lake's southern tip for re-assembling.
The occasion of her launching was a major event in Queenstown!
Cargo she carried, has been livestock, passengers, and people on holidays.
Men would probably love this steamer, as onboard, you can go down the engine room and see the engine working. It is still the same as in 1912. Her cruising speed is 11knots, and to attain this speed, the twin steam engines each have to develop 500 horse power by burning 1 ton of coal per hour!
On the outside, she is beautifully restored, all ready to take those paying passengers for a trip on Lake Wakatipu.
The Main Town Pier next to the small beach (Marine Parade) is the place to book your trips on the Kawarau Jet. The trips with this jetboat company also start here, as does the adventure activity of Paraflights. (BTW Kawarau Jet has got a competitor with jetboat rides on the Kawarau River, Thunderjets. They are just developing a website, contact details are already available on http://www.thunderjetqueenstown.co.nz/)
Just around the corner, towards the Boardwalk/Steamer Wharf, is another kiosk where you can book all kinds of activities, like Fishing Charters, Sightseeing Trips and Family Functions.
The place where you can book everything, however, is the Visitor Centre. There are even two offices at the intersection of Shotover Street and Camp Street, located diagonally opposite each other.
Most of the major tourism operators have offices in this area, especially in Shotover Street which is parallel to Beach Street.
Info & Track
Phone:+64 (0)3 442 9708
Fax:+64 (0)3 442 7038
37 Shotover Street
More info sites are listed on this website:
The place where you can book everything in Queenstown is the Visitor Centre. There are even two offices at the intersection of Shotover Street and Camp Street, located diagonally opposite each other.
Most of the major tourism operators have offices in this area, especially in Shotover Street which is parallel to Beach Street.
Phone +64 (0)3 442 4100
Fax+64 (0)3 442 8907
Address: Clock Tower, Cnr Camp and Shotover Streets
Beside the i-site, in the first floor of an outdoor sportshop, is the office of the Department of Conservation (DoC) where you can get some free and purchase other maps. Although it is a bit of moneymaking to charge NZ$ 5 for a trail map of the walks around Queenstown, you get valuable - and free - info at the desk. It should be your first port of call if you plan day walks or multi-day hikes in the area.
This name is no official place name but, let’s say, a people’s choice. If you drive past the airport – through the Kawarau Valley – you will see it. It is a big building excavation site but nobody working there.
The works have been stopped when the developer Dave Henderson got into financial trouble.
He is struggling and has not declared insolvency (yet) but at the moment there is no money to carry on. So Queenstown has this kind of monument of unfinished business until further notice.
It is a pity because this guy, Dave Henderson, has developed some spectacular sites, especially in Christchurch, like the Hotel SO and SoL Square. He really has the ability to turn ugly sites into beautiful spaces.
He is known in the whole country for his successful fight with Inland Revenue, our tax office. Last year even a (taxpayer-funded) movie about this story has been released (We’re Here To Help) in NZ cinemas.
Then he won the fight. But now – ten years later - Inland Revenue moves against four companies that are related to Henderson’s development empire.
The Christchurch City Council has bailed him out in one case by purchasing one of his building sites at Sydenham Square for NZ$ 17 million.
Update 21 Feb 2009
The hole, pardon: the development is now up for sale in a mortagee sale.
If you make a jetboat trip on the Shotover you cannot but notice this bridge. First you drive over it when coming from Queenstown, second, you have it in full view from the jetboat jetty, and pace through under it.
The first bridge, named after the British World War I heroine nurse Edith Cavell, was built in 1862, a later one in 1875. It was the first parabolic arch concrete bridge to be built in the South Island.
The bridge itself is a great viewing point for the Shotover River. It spans the Shotover and gives a view into a gorge lined with cliffs of schist.
The bridge was formerly known as the Upper Shotover Bridge until an admirer who was frustrated that the administration did not follow his wish to rename the bridge after the British nurse, took action. He took a paintbrush and painted her name on the structure. As you can see, this his last effort was not in vain, and the bridge now carries Edith Cavell’s name.
The location of the bridge is called Arthurs Point and is about 5 kilometres north of Queenstown. It is named after Thomas Arthur who discovered gold here in 1862 and triggered the biggest gold rush ever seen in New Zealand. A simple cairn (Thomas Arthur Memorial) marks the historic find in the vicinity.
Also here you can have a look at the historic Arthurs Point Hotel. It has retained much of its original character and is the only surviving one of the once 27 hotels in this area during the time of the gold rush. After a fire it was rebuilt in 1880.
Please note: The number of hotels is different in every source I read, even some serious ones. One I trust very much in historic questions mentions 17 hotels and 23 general stores that lined the road between Arthurs Point and Skippers Canyon. Perhaps the sources which list 27 hotels include the hotels in Queenstown.
Queenstown can be flooded from time to time, especially after the snowmelt and heavy rainfall. The major flooding of 1999 happened after extensive rainfall. Some buildings were still flooded two weeks after the event, several businesses were out of action for three months. Since then many insurance companies do not cover the area any longer against flood-related damage.
Queenstown’s location is the problem. It lies on the shores of Lake Wakatipu which drains via the Kawarau River. Inflows to the lake (by the Dart River among several rivers that flow into the lake in the Glenorchy area) are higher than outflows. Plus, the Shotover river as a major tributary of the Kawarau River has a large delta which impedes the flow of the Kawarau, and further downstream the Kawarau has a narrow gorge which constricts the flows.
Due to this geographical position, once there were recommendations in place to build only on higher grounds and not at lake level. The warnings of the flood risk have been widely ignored, especially by businesses. So now nearly all of Queenstown’s tourist businesses and restaurants are located in the centre of a floodplain, and are calling the regional council for better flood protection on a regular base.
The Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Otago Regional Council, however, have told the people to learn to live with flooding and attempt to reduce its impact. (For example, to raise the floor levels of affected buildings.)
The strategy does not provide any plans to prevent the floodings. (The situation at Lake Wanaka BTW is similar.) “If you choose to live on the flood plains of a major catchment like Lake Wakatipu and Lake Wanaka then there is an inevitability about flooding", says Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Clive Geddes. "Successive councils, both regional and district, have over 40 years looked at every possible physical option and we have come down in 2006 to understanding there is a limited amount of work we can do."
This, of course, does not satisfy the owners of waterside properties.
It is a bit like with people who build next to an existing tennis court and then complain about the permanent plop-plop of the tennis balls.
During the flood of November 1999 Lake Wakatipu reached a peak level of 312.78 metres, exceeding the record from 1878. About five hectares of the township were flooded. In some locations the water stood more than a metre above floor level. Central Queenstown became a serious health risk as decomposing mud, food and sewage contaminated the floodwaters. Visitors were told to stay away. Of course, this is a dreadful scenario for a town that totally depends on tourism.
This is a very interesting article about the flood problem in Queenstown. It includes photos of the 1999 flooding:
At the turn-off from the Coronet Peak Road to Skippers Canyon you will see the figure of a man, next to the first warning sign about how dangerous Skippers Road is.
This figure depicts Julien Bourdeau, a French Canadian who was a pioneer of the region. He was a packer and served the remote gold diggers communities of Maori Point, Skippers and Bullendale as a publican, mailman, farmer and General Store keeper. His return trips between Queenstown and those places took him two days.
Twice weekly he carried passengers and supplies with his horses Dobbin and Darkie.
He did the job for 50 years until he died in 1916, aged 87. He is buried at the old Skippers Cemetery. His orbituary says he died in the traces of his horse-drawn cart of exhaustion and old age.
In the Press newspaper of 22 November 2008 I read about an amusing long-standing legend about Julien Bourdeau. It says that several months after he died – and remember he died at the age of 87 – the Mayor of Queenstown received a letter from Bourdeau’s parents in Canada, wondering why their son had not written for quite a while…
Read more about Skippers Canyon in my Off the Beaten Path tips. (Link above to the main tip.)
Now famous for the hair raising tours on the Shotover Jet and lots and lots of other activities for adrenaline junkies, the Shotover river once was the highest gold producing river in the world per kilometre, yielding 12 ounces of gold per yard of gravel.
The river rises in the Richardson Mountains north of Queenstown. Its narrowest and deepest section is the famous Skippers Canyon. Further down it flows into the Kawarau River.
The mother lode of the Shotover goldfields is below Mt. Aurum – the gold mountain.
In 1862, the shearers Thomas Arthur and Harry Redfern found gold at a place which is now known as Arthurs Point (near the base of the Shotover Jet), just 5 km north of Queenstown. When word about the massive finds spread thousands of gold diggers flocked into the area. The road from Queenstown partly up Coronet Peak and then down into Skippers Canyon had to be hacked out of the rock by pick and shovel, an incredible task mainly done my Chinese navvies. 27 hotels were built along 40 km of road – only one of them is still operating today.
By the turn of the century most gold was extracted from the river. But there is still enough left to make some people work through the gravel and earn a living from gold digging and panning. Especially after very heavy rainfall and floods people head for the river with shovels and pans, hoping to make a fortune. Most end up with several hundreds or thousands of dollars – which is not bad for some days of exercise ;-)
Photo 2 shows the Shotover Gorge near the jetboat base, with its overhanging rocks.
Queenstown has not only had centre stage of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But sure, the hype around those films and tours to the film locations is enormous and overshadows the rest.
Films such as The Water Horse, 10,000 BC, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Vertical Limit and Prince Caspian are part of a growing catalogue of movies filmed in the area and give credence to the region's silver screen potential. Also 30 Days of Night was filmed there.
In 2008 scenes for Wolverine (from the X-Men series, with Hugh Jackman) were filmed at Deer Park Heights which had already featured prominently in Lord of the Rings. Up there they also had a prison set for the 1986 children’s movie The Rescue.
If you hear people talking English with an accent not very familiar to you, often a waiter or barman, it might be Portuguese. More exactly: Brazilian Portuguese.
You will be surprised about how many Brazilians stay and work in Queenstown. They absolutely love it there, and you will meet more Brazilians than anywhere else in New Zealand.
Last winter, for example, between 2000 and 3000 Brazilians worked in Queenstown. Another big number of young people from the South American country attend language courses in Queenstown.
They have Brazilian Christmas parties and hold Brazilian Carnavals as well. The next one will take place on 22 February 2009.
Based on this you will be less surprised that Destination Queenstown has created an info website for Spanish and Portuguese speaking people, with a special welcome to the Brazilians: “Bem-vindos à Nova-Zelândia!”
Destino NZ Travel Ltd.
1° andar, esquina de Camp e Shotover Streets
Queenstown, Nova Zelândia
PO Box 1674
Queenstown, Nova Zelândia
Fone +64 (3) 441 1410
Fax +64 (3) 441 1440
Queenstown might be a town but it is far from being a city. You will be surprised how small the town centre is.
The main roads – SH 6A from Cromwell and the airport to Arrowtown/Arthur’s Point, and the road to Glenorchy enclose a little area of just six streets leading to the lakefront and three or four streets that run parallel to the lake’s town side. Really tiny. If you have accommodation in the town centre, you are in the middle of it all, and nothing is further away than a five minute walk.
Also adjoining areas can be reached by walking. Just be aware that it goes uphill around the town centre, with the easiest walks towards Arthur’s Point. Accommodation at Fernhill is a longish walk along the road I would not do at night.
As small as Queenstown is, it has more than 120 restaurants, cafés and bars, and also the offices for most of the 400 possible activies located in the centre, you can well get the idea that you will not get what you would call local flair in other cities. Everything in Queenstown is directed at tourists and how to pull the money out of their pockets.
On the other hand, you can leave the tourist hub behind you within a 10 minute walking distance and find peace and quiet. Drive 10 minutes, are you are far away from it all – if you do not go to the Bungy Jump or the Shotover Jet ;-)
A place I like within the reach of the very centre are the Queenstown Gardens. A walkway leads through this shady green area between the main lake and the so-called Frankton arm of Lake Wakatipu. Along this walkway you will see some very desirable residential apartments in totally quiet surroundings so close to the lake and the very town centre.
The whole Queenstown/Lakes District which covers an area of more than 9000 square kilometres and includes Wanaka, had about 23,000 permanent residents in the 2006 Census. More than 50% of the dwellings are not owned by permanent residents in some very desirable locations (like Queenstown Bay) the percentage is between 60 and 80%.
The district’s population grew by 35% between 2001 and 2006. This is more than anywhere else in the country and over four times the national average. Queenstown itself has under 10,000 permanent residents, but welcomes 1.2 million visitors per year. In the summer and winter peak seasons it feels very crowded and a bit too much affected by too many adrenaline rushes...
This is Queentown’s main shopping, restaurant and pub street and pedestrian zone.
They have tried to create a relaxing atmosphere with good indoor/outdoor flow, with nice seating areas on decks on the level two of the small two-storey buildings, and little granite and greywacke walls around the bench seats in front of the houses. The street really invites to stroll around and do at least some window shopping, if not the real shop till you drop…
However, it is not spectacular, just nice. But a relief after digesting the disappointing general architecture.
As Queenstown attracts a lot of rich people, it has a great selection of good and luxury shops, not just cheap souvenir stuff, from world-famous fashion brands to jewellery.
Bob’s Peak is the hill (come call it mountain…) on which the summit station of the Gondola is located. It sits 450 metres above the lake. Getting up there by Gondola is the fastest way to get a great view of Queentown and the surrounding mountains.
Some statistical details about the Gondola:
• Bottom Terminal Elevation: 340m
• Top Terminal: 790m
• Vertical Rise: 450m
• Total Length: 730m
• Incline Angle: average of 37.1 degrees
• Average Speed: Variable to 3.5m/sec
• Capacity: 700 people/hour in 26 four-person cabins
• Operating Hours: Open daily from 9am until late
I haven't stayed at this resort but my boyfriend has. On our trip to Queenstown he took me here to...more
Within stroling distance from the main town. Welcoming and homely. A warm cozey room admist the cold...more
This is based on the comments of my husband who was grumpy when he stayed at this hotel because his...more