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As New Zealand’s premier snow and adventure activity destination, you’ll never run out of things to do and see in Queenstown! While the local population remains small at around 20,000 residents, close to 1.5 million people visit the area each year from around the country and world.
Nestled in a bay on Lake Wakatipu and shadowed by Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, Queenstown is the largest urban centre in Central Otago, in the lower third of the South Island.
Lake Wakatipu was formed around 15,000 years ago by a glacier moving down from the north-west. The Remarkables Range was formed by the extreme folding and faulting of schist rock – this happened to such an extent that many of the rock faces are almost vertical. Early Maori travelled through the area to hunt and gather pounamu (greenstone).
The first Europeans to settle were sheep farmers in the 1850s and the population exploded in the 1860s when gold was discovered on the banks of the Shotover River. When the gold started to run out, the population decreased; it wasn’t until the 1950s that Queenstown started to become the popular tourist destination that it is today.
Queenstown is a very popular place for young travellers and international students. Being a tourist hot-spot, the locals are very friendly and accommodating. You’ll never run out of people to talk to – local or international!
You’ll find students enjoying the many shops, cafes and bars in the CBD, hitting the slopes or doing water activities on Lake Wakatipu. The CBD itself is just 1km square, so most places are within walking distance and there’s a small community/family feeling within the whole region.
Queenstown is surrounded by breathtaking scenery and historical wonders. The Remarkables and Coronet Peak are great mountainous areas to explore, with the Ben Lomond Walkway and Queenstown Hill covered in walking and biking tracks. The Queenstown Gardens are also a beautiful place to wander and rest.
The wine-making area near Queenstown, which is said to be the world’s southernmost wine region, is great to visit. There are also several annual festivals held in Queenstown, such as the Blues & Roots Festival and the Winter Festival.
Even if you’re not the adventurous type, there’s plenty to do all year round. Summer is warm and calm, while winter is crisp and still. Spring and autumn come to life with vibrant colours and blooms. All three English New Zealand language schools offer their students great activity programmes during all seasons.
Here are some of our favourite activities in Queenstown:
What’s your favourite thing to do in Queenstown? Tell us about it in a comment below.