Queenstown Tours – Privately Guided
The Maori first came to Queenstown in search of food, fibre and stone resources. After discovering the moa, and pounamu (greenstone) here they came to the area seasonally to hunt and gather greenstone.
It is a semi-precious stone of huge cultural importance to the Maori people. They once used the beautiful stone for adzes, chisels and weaponry. Today it is mostly carved into jewelery.
Expeditions continued up until the mid 19th century.
In the 1800s the Europeans found gold and the gold rush began in 1862. Today gold is still mined in the region, but typically with heavy machinery.
Lake Wakatipu was formed about 15,000 years ago by a glacier coming down from the north-west which gouged out the lakebed. You can see evidence of this glacial activity by the striations, or scratches, on the mountain slopes of Cecil Peak and the grinding over the mountain tops levelling them flat.
The Remarkables Range was formed by faulting and folding of schist rock to such an extent that many of the rock faces are nearly vertical.
In 1860 William Gilbert Rees and Nicholas Von Tunzelman came to the area to develop its pastoral potential. To open up grazing land they burned much of the beech forest and shrubland. This caused quite a barren landscape and trees such as Douglas fir, larch, sycamore, willow and poplar were planted to enhance the landscape.
Favoured by local conditions the fir trees began invading the alpine tussock lands, and today wild tree control is necessary to protect the natural landscape.
In 1862 Thomas Low and John MacGregor discovered gold in the Arrow and in the Shotover rivers. The goldrush peaked the following year with William Gilbert Rees’ pastoral lease being cancelled and a goldfield declared.
Due to advancements in mining methods, quartz crushing began and by the 1870s gold was being mined from the quartz reefs of Macetown, Mt Aurum and the Shotover River.
The 1930s saw another revival of gold mining as a result of hardships of the Depression.
The town is built around an inlet called Queenstown Bay on Lake Wakatipu a long thin Z-shaped lake formed by glacial processes, and has spectacular views of nearby mountains such as the Remarkables, Walter and Cecil Peak.
Lake Wakatipu is a fresh water glacial feed lake, reaching depths of 300 metres it remains a chilling 10-12 degrees year round. Queenstown has a population of around 22000 permanent residents throughout the Wakatipu basin.
Around 1.9 million visitors are drawn to Queenstown each year to enjoy their own unforgettable travel experience. Visitors come to experience our awe-inspiring scenery, to search for adventure, to seek out relaxation and rejuvenation, or just to breathe our pure mountain air.
Adventurers, filmmakers, wine enthusiasts, Hollywood stars and US Presidents have all been drawn to our magical region and its intense alpine energy.