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Placid Lake Wakatipu belies the commercial chaos of the town sitting on its northern shore. Queenstown sprang into life when gold was discovered here in the 1860s and it hasn’t looked back since. The new gold is the tourist dollar, which Queenstown attracts via a multitude of exciting activities. These are staged virtually year-round but are most in demand in summer, when warm weather and clear mountain vistas invigorate visitors. The town’s trademark pursuit is the bungy jump – plummet 140 feet from the Kawarau Bridge or take the 440-foot plunge from the Nevis Highwire. If you really have a head for heights, do a skydive for a high-altitude ...

Placid Lake Wakatipu belies the commercial chaos of the town sitting on its northern shore. Queenstown sprang into life when gold was discovered here in the 1860s and it hasn’t looked back since. The new gold is the tourist dollar, which Queenstown attracts via a multitude of exciting activities. These are staged virtually year-round but are most in demand in summer, when warm weather and clear mountain vistas invigorate visitors. The town’s trademark pursuit is the bungy jump – plummet 140 feet from the Kawarau Bridge or take the 440-foot plunge from the Nevis Highwire. If you really have a head for heights, do a skydive for a high-altitude view of the Remarkables range – alternatively, ride the Skyline cable-car up the hill behind town to enjoy some South Island scenery. Another thrilling option is the jet-boat ride through the rocky Shotover Canyon, during which passengers are subjected to high-speed turns and, for good measure, the odd 360-degree spin. When the adrenalin has ebbed, explore the bars and restaurants strewn along Queenstown’s twisting streets.

Paul Smitz
About the Expert

Paul Smitz has coauthored a dozen guidebooks for Lonely Planet on places such as Australia, New Zealand, Malaysian Borneo, Brunei, various Pacific Islands, Prague, and Brussels.

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Paul Smitz for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Located in the southwest of New Zealand's South Island
  • Language: English and Maori
  • Currency: New Zealand Dollar
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Visit at either end of the November–March summer high season to avoid the tourist crush.