Situated over one thousand feet above sea level, Queenstown has the enviable location of being on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in the Southern Alps of the country’s South Island, one of the most picturesque destinations in New Zealand. Originally known as ‘The Camp’, its present name was not chosen until decades later by those who felt that the city was one fit for Queen Victoria.
The city was first settled by sheep farmers in the mid 1850s but when two of these farmers discovered gold on the banks of the Shotover river in 1862, prospectors arrived in their thousands in search of gold. Within just one year the town had developed into a vibrant mining town with a population of several thousand.
Following the success derived from mining in the late nineteenth century, the next big step in Queenstown’s development came at the turn of the century when its large number of walking trails began to attract visitors to the area. This, of course, was to be the first hint of tourism in the area but despite the fact that people came from all over the world to walk the area’s tracks, this was only a holiday which could be enjoyed during summer. In winter, things in Queenstown came to a virtual standstill.
This was only the case until the 1950s, however, when the potential of the nearby Coronet Peak area as a ski resort was realised. Following this development Queenstown was to become a year round holiday resort with something to offer all its visitors.
But, it was in the early seventies that the adventure tourism for which the area is now renowned really began. Starting with the arrival of jet boats in the area - a New Zealand invention which allowed extensive travel where it hadn’t been possible before, this was the beginning of something huge. Hot on the jet boat’s heels was White Water Rafting.
In 1988 the biggest development ever was to take place with the arrival of AJ Hackett and Henry Van Asch, two adrenaline junkies who guaranteed that Queenstown would become known as the adventure capital of the country if not the world. Today, bungee jumping, tandem skydiving, parasailing, canyoning, abseiling and so much more ensure that the stream of visitors arriving in the city is constant. Furthermore, however, they guarantee that nobody leaves disappointed.