Queenstown originated around an inlet on Lake Wakpitipu called Queenstown Bay. These days, Queenstown spreads along the shores of the lake and includes areas such as Fern Hill, Frankton and Kelvin Heights. The greater Queenstown area includes Arrowtown, Lake Hayes and Glenorchy.
Lake Wakpitipu is New Zealand’s longest lake at around 80kms, and is the third largest in the country at 291 km2, with a maximum depth of 380m.
Driving to and from Queenstown
There are three main roads in and out of Queenstown, connecting it to the rest of the South Island; State Highway 6 north which heads to Cromwell and the West Coast; State Highway 6 south which heads leads to Invercargil and the Southland via Kingston; and the Crown Range which connects Queenstown to Wanaka via the village of Cardrona.
There are numerous options for driving between Queenstown and Arrowtown, and just the one road heading to Glenorchy.
Approximate driving times from Central Queenstown:
- 10mins to Frankton
- 15mins to Arrowtown
- 30mins to Kingston (via SH6 heading south)
- 40mins to Cromwell (via SH6 heading north)
- 45mins to Glenorchy
- 1hr to Wanaka (via Crown Range Rd)
- 3hrs to Haast and the West Coast (via SH6 heading north)
- 3hrs to Lake Tekapo (via SH8)
- 6hrs to Christchurch (via SH8)
Note that the Crown Range between Queenstown and Wanaka can be restricted in winter time. The road can become very icy and snowy, and may be restricted to 4WDs or 2WDs with chains, and sometimes it can close completely. In this scenario it is best to take SH6 via Cromwell (approximately 1hr 20mins).
Buses to and from Queenstown
Queenstown has a large network of bus services that connects it to all the major towns and cities in the South Island, including Wanaka, Cromwell, Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill and Greymouth. Queenstown also has it’s own bus network, Connectabus, connecting all major hotels and suburbs with the town centre.
Check the following companies for schedules and prices:
- Connectabus – daily services to Arrowtown, Wanaka and around Queenstown itself
- Naked Bus – daily services to Christchurch and more
- Alpine Connexions – daily services to Wanaka, Cromwell, Alexandra, Dunedin Airport and Dunedin
- Atomic Shuttles – daily services to Wanaka, Christchurch, Dunedin and the West Coast
- InterCity – daily services to Christchurch and the West Coast
Flying to and from Queenstown
Quenstown Airport, is thriving both domestically and internationally. Air New Zealand and Jet Star offer domestic routes to all major New Zealand cities and more routes are opening to Australia every year.
Read more about flights to and from Queenstown Airport here.
Note that due to the restricted airspace and close proximity to residential areas, flights do not arrive in Queenstown Airport after 5pm.
Queenstown Airport is located in Frankton, about 10mins drive from the city centre.
Hitch Hiking out of Queenstown
Hitch hiking in and out of Queenstown is relatively easy, although it can be a little tricky to get picked up when exiting the town centre itself – simply due to traffic flow and lack of good stopping places.
When hitch hiking towards Lake Hayes, Cromwell, Wanaka and the West Coast, it is best to wait just after the Frankton roundabout. Cars frequently stop here to pick up happy looking hitch hikers. When hitch hiking south towards Kingston, it is best to wait on the east exit of the same roundabout, a short way along next to the pull-in bays.
Please note that there can always be risks with hitch hiking. It should always be done with caution. 360queenstown-wanaka takes no responsibility for incidents that could be linked to the advice we provide.