Situated on the west coast of the South Island, Milford Sound is a fusion of spectacular natural features with amazing visual cues around every corner. Described by Rudyard Kipling as the 'eighth wonder of the world', Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages. Breathtaking in any weather, the fiord's cliffs rise vertically from the dark waters, mountain peaks scrape the sky and waterfalls cascade downwards from as high as 1000 metres. When it rains in Milford Sound, and it often does, those waterfalls multiply with magnificent effect.
Shaped like a lightning bolt, Lake Wakatipu is the third largest lake in New Zealand.
The lake occupies a single, glacier-carved trench and is bordered on all sides by tall mountains, the highest of which is Mount Earnslaw (2819 metres). Settlements around the lake shore include Queenstown and the villages of Kingston, Glenorchy and Kinloch.
Because of its unusual shape, Lake Wakatipu has a 'tide' (more correctly, an unusually large seiche or "standing wave"), which causes the water to rise and fall about 10 centimetres every 25 minutes or so. Maori legend links this phenomenon to the heartbeat of a huge monster named Matau, who is said to be slumbering at the bottom of the lake.
Lake Wakatipu offers year-round trout fishing - the mouths of the Greenstone and Lochy Rivers are particularly rewarding. In summer, the lake's beaches are popular for swimming. The Lake Wakatipu Ride, part of the Queenstown Trails, is a leisurely way to experience this stunning part of the country.
This rustic town is a true outdoor enthusiast's paradise, located just 45 minutes away from Queestown. Set against a background of native beech forest and towering mountain ranges, Glenorchy’s surrounds are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Lake Wakatipu and the Dart River offer opportunities for jet boating and kayaking, and some of New Zealand’s best hiking trails can be accessed from here. Horse trekking in the area is also highly recommended.
Glenorchy’s spectacular landscapes have become a prime location for film scouts, depicting many scenes from The Lord of the Rings trilogy as well as featuring in the Narnia movies. Twenty kilometres away from Glenorchy, as bucolic farmland gives way to beech forests, lies Paradise. Some say it was christened for its natural charms, others for the paradise ducks that live in the area. Nobody can say for sure how it got its name, but the one thing people agree on is its breathtaking beauty.
Take a ride in Queenstown’s iconic Skyline Gondola and immerse yourself in spectacular panoramic views of Queenstown and the surrounding mountains. But there’s more to enjoy! When you get to the top, discover a host of family-friendly activities on offer. Get your fix of downhill fun with the Skyline Luge, settle in for a relaxing evening with the best of New Zealand and international cuisine at Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar, or journey into the hidden world of the Southern night sky with Skyline’s guided Stargazing experience. Located an easy five minute walk from the centre of town, a visit to Skyline Queenstown is a must do!
The magnificent scenery and views around Queenstown, New Zealand can only truly be experienced from the air via a scenic helicopter flight.
Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters operated by Helicopters Queenstown Ltd offer a selection of scenic Queenstown helicopter flights which can fly you over the high points of Lake Wakatipu, The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Kawarau Gorge, Shotover River, & Skippers Canyon. Experience the thrill of landing on snow and glaciers deep within the alpine ranges and there is plenty of Middle Earth to see for Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit fans also.
Linking Queenstown, Arrowtown and the Gibbston Valley, this trail network is the ultimate way to reach many of the region’s iconic attractions while soaking up its world-famous scenery. Rides range from easy lakeside jaunts to cross-country treks to winery tours, offering adventures to suit cyclists of almost every ability and area of interest.
Visitors are spoilt for choice on this trail network, which dishes up sublime scenery while linking many of the attractions the Queenstown region is famous for. Multiple access and bike hire points, open landscapes and clear signage make for easy navigation, while wide, smooth terrain means riders can keep their eyes front and camera at the ready.
Gold rush-era Arrowtown is the starting point for the intermediate Arrow River Bridges Ride that takes in photogenic bridges, country lanes and an old gold miners’ road to historic Kawarau Bridge, site of the world’s original bungy jump operation and a chance to strike the big bounce off the bucket list.
Kawarau Bridge signals the start of the Gibbston River Ride, an easy meander through the ‘Valley of the Vines’ and a brilliant way to explore the wineries lining this iconic Central Otago landscape.
Hot pools in Queenstown are an excellent way to soothe the muscles and relax after a day on the ski slopes or on the walking tracks!
Enjoy a daytime soak to warm and rejuvenate the whole family, or make a night time visit and marvel at the clear night sky as your worries and aches are gently soothed by the warm waters.