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Destinations - Queenstown/Southern Lakes District
Beautiful, towering Mt Aspiring National Park & its glaciers feed rivers that flow into glacier lakes, Hawea, Wakatipu & Wanaka.
From Wanaka, NZ's largest (but not longest) mighty Clutha River emerges; a source of alluvial gold, a recreational resource & hydroelectric development.
Stone fruits of Central Otago , apricots & peaches, are famous in NZ & beyond. The area has some of the finest water & winter sport facilities, as well as bungy jumping. Despite thousands of visitors, Central Otago seems uncrowded & peacefully isolated.
Gold was the basis for the original growth of Central Otago . Many locations now only names & ruins; their history is preserved in many local museums. Maori, in their search for highly valued pounamu (greenstone/nephrite jade), created many tracks now called walkways & used by hikers.
Fiordland National Park takes in SW corner of NZ, containing Lakes Te Anau & Manapouri & breathtaking Milford Sound. View National Park from aircraft, boats, the spectacular Milford Road , or several fine walking tracks, including Routeburn & Milford Track. Thick forest is virtually untouched by humans & seals; penguins & dolphins can often be seen in Milford Sound.
Kepler Track : 3-4 day hike through mountain bush, subalpine flora, river valleys & alongside Lake Manapouri ; a circular track (start/finish at Te Anau.
Milford Track : Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound, 1 way, 1 of world's finest walks. Beginning at head of Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. Comparatively easy, 3-4 days, reasonable standard of fitness essential. Independent walkers carry own equipment & require previous hiking experience. Map is essential, as is raincoat & insect repellent. Huts available (book & pay for huts at Fiordland National Park HQ in Te Anau). For guided walk, book through travel agent. Seasonal; October to April.
Routeburn Track : 82km N of Te Anau through Mt Aspiring & Fiordland National Parks (may be walked in either direction. Takes in best of NZ's alpine scenery. 4-day guided treks are available; independent walkers (prior bookings through Fiordland National HQ in Te Anau are required). Huts, some maintained for guided treks exclusive use. Because of its height, Harris Saddle is often closed by snow in winter & the track, best walked from November to April, is not dangerous if common sense is observed. Bus transport available at terminus points.
For all track information, up-to-date conditions & intention forms, contact DOC in Te Anau.
Southern Lakes Region is divided into 4 sub-regions - Wanaka District, Central Otago , Queenstown District, & Fiordland.
Queenstown: beautiful resort surrounded by majestic mountains on shores of Lake Wakatipu , 1 of NZ's premier holiday destinations.
Queenstown (pop 8,538) boasts adventure in all forms, from extreme to relaxed exploration. Bungy jump, jet boat, raft, gold pan, hike, horse ride, fly by wire, 4WD mountain bike, rock climb, wine trails. Join a lake cruise/scenic flight, water ski, yacht, ice skate or play Frisbee golf.
Walk to everything, including fantastic retail shops & restaurants.
Adventure : canoeing, fishing, gold panning, ice skating, kiwi & bird-life park, lake cruises, jet boating, river surfing, swimming, horse riding, hikes, walkways, water skiing, white water rafting, yachting & 4WD.
Arthur's Point : famous gold claim at the beginning of largest gold rush ever seen in NZ. The hotel retains much of its original character; Edith Cavell Bridge across the Shotover Canyon is great viewing point.
Bungy jumping : choice of sites, take the ultimate plunge (at 150km per hour) straight down.
Kawarau Bridge , mins out of town centre, has world's 1st commercial bungy jump operation started in 1988.
Great skiing & snowboarding options exist on Coronet Peak & the Remarkables, with fine powder snow & amazing vista; full ski hire & international ski school available. Intermediate skiers upwards, with urge to explore, try heliskiing.
Skipper's Canyon: only experienced drivers in good conditions should attempt the high, narrow winding road. 4WD tours make regular trips to Skipper's Settlement with restored school house, cemetery & suspension bridge, which doubles as bungy jumping site.
The Kawarau & Shotover Rivers are venues for white water rafting, a challenging team water sport. High safety standards ensure a great time.
Queenstown is renowned for shopping, dining & nightlife. Shops open to 10pm or later. Award-winning local wines to sample; picturesque & challenging golf courses, & art galleries. Queenstown hosts the Air New Zealand Queenstown Winter Festival (late July), the largest of its kind in southern hemisphere.