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Bounded by the shores of the cerulean Lake Wakatipu and the soaring peaks of the Southern Alps, Queenstown is a small town nestled amidst some of New Zealand's most spectacular South Island scenery. Its breathtaking locale creates an adventure paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, who flock from all around the globe for mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and bungy jumping in summer, as well as skiing and snowboarding in winter. Nearby, other quaint towns, such as Arrowtown, and the fertile vineyards of the Central Otago wine region offer a taste of local history and viticulture. As you delve into the sights and activities of Queenstown, find a wealth of ways to immerse yourself in its breathtaking natural beauty.
Queenstown's proximity to an enchanting mix of mountains, rivers, and lakes makes it an ideal home base for exploring its surroundings. Nature areas such as the Ben Lomond Scenic Reserve are just a short drive away, while spots like Downtown and the Queenstown Gardens invite you to spend time discovering natural features right in town.
Populated with places to shop, dine, and drink, Downtown is the hub of activity in Queenstown. On any given night, the area's lively restaurants and bars fill with hikers, mountain bikers, and skiers who come to kick back and let loose after a day in the great outdoors.
The hiking and biking trails of Queenstown's closest mountain, Ben Lomond, lie just minutes away from the town itself. A climb to the top rewards trekkers with 360-degree views of the Wakatipu Basin and surrounding mountains, or you can just take in the scenery with a ride on the Skyline Queenstown gondola.
For a tranquil retreat to nature, mosey over from Downtown to the Queenstown Gardens, which are located right next door. Established in the late 19th century, this 36-acre (15 ha) green space encompasses a variety of exotic plants, serene trails, and opportunities for activities like tennis and lawn bowling.
By nature of its location, Queenstown's sights revolve around the snow-capped mountains and azure bodies of water that create its stunning backdrop. Venture beyond the small inlet of Queenstown Bay to marvel at the grandeur of Lake Wakatipu, which sprawls for 50 miles (80 km), earning it the title of New Zealand's longest lake. Majestic peaks rise in every direction, including The Remarkables mountain range, Cecil Peak, and Walter Peak. If you're eager for even more of New Zealand's jaw-dropping scenery, Queenstown serves as a starting point for day trips to the steep valleys and alpine lakes of Fiordland, known for its ruggedly beautiful fjords like Doubtful Sound and the world-famous Milford Sound. For a more local excursion, discover the charms of Queenstown's neighboring hamlets, such as the history-filled gold mining outpost of Arrowtown.
Queenstown offers a wide variety of activities to suit any nature lover or outdoor enthusiast. Soar above the area's breathtaking landscapes with an unforgettable helicopter tour, or admire the reaches of Lake Wakatipu on a sightseeing cruise. For a dose of adrenaline, speed across the lake on a high-speed jetboat adventure, or navigate the churning rapids of the Kawarau River on a river rafting excursion. The river is also a popular destination for bungee jumpers, who come to take the plunge from the Kawarau Bridge suspended between the rocky cliffs of Kawarau Gorge. During winter months, skiers and snowboarders carve down the powder-covered runs of Queenstown's nearby alpine resorts, including Coronet Peak, Treble Cone, and Cardrona Alpine Resort. And if you're a self-described vino lover, don't miss the chance to visit some of the Central Otago region's prestigious wineries. Let a guide handle the logistics, or try a self-guided bike tour and create your own tasting experience.