Some Queenstown fun facts – did you know…
- Tāhuna, the Te Reo Maori name for Queenstown, means “shallow bay”.
- Queenstown was originally named the ‘Camp’ by William Rees. The name Queenstown has two theories, the most common being that it was gold prospectors, captivated by the beauty of the surrounding mountains and rivers, who hit upon its name when they pronounced it a “town fit for a Queen”. The other is that it was named Queenstown after Queenstown in Ireland (now called Cobh).
- Queenstown is at a latitude of 45 degrees south. Only two other countries in the world, Chile and Argentina, are at the same latitude.
- The Remarkables mountain range was so named in 1857 by a surveyor Alexander Garvie who called it that after seeing the dramatic razorback mountain range in all its glory at sunset. The view across the lake to The Remarkables has now become one of the most photographed in the Southern Lakes region.
- The Remarkables mountain range is also one of only two mountain ranges in the world to run directly north to south (the other is the Rockies). It’s also home to a commercial ski field and is a popular spot for heliskiing, hiking and climbing.
- Evidence of a Maori presence in the region dates back about 700 years – while it was not settled by Maori, the area was used as a summer hunting ground for moa and pounamu (greenstone).
- Queenstown’s founder William Rees first arrived on the shore of Lake Wakatipu in February 1860. Some of his descendants still live here!
- In 1885 all Queenstown hotels were run by women who all happened to be widows.
- Renowned as Queenstown’s ‘Lady of the Lake’, the TSS Earnslaw steamship (TSS = Twin Screw Steamer) was first launched in 1912 – the same year as the Titanic. It was built by J.McGregor and Co in Dunedin, cost £20,850 to complete and was named after the highest peak in the region, Mt Earnslaw, which stands at 2,819m (9,248ft). The ‘Earnie’, as she’s affectionately called, was a working ship for many years transporting sheep, cargo and passengers to surrounding high country stations. In 1969 she was retired and purchased by Fiordland Travel (now Real Journeys). She is one of the oldest tourist attractions in Central Otago and the only remaining passenger-carrying coal-fired steamship in the Southern Hemisphere. Despite being over 100 years old, the TSS Earnslaw still works 14-hour days in the summer months and cruises for 11 months of the year. She even made a brief cameo appearance as an Amazon River boat in the 2008 movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
- In September 1999, President Clinton was the first US president ever to visit Queenstown.
- The Frisbee Golf course in the Queenstown Gardens was the first of its kind established in New Zealand and continues to be a popular activity for visitors and locals.
- Queenstown’s stunning scenery and world-class expertise makes it an ideal destination for shooting feature films, commercials and promotional videos. Queenstown, Central Otago and the Southern Lakes region have featured in movies like The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, Mission Impossible 6: Fallout, Wolverine, Vertical Limit, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and the Bollywood superhit I Hate Luv Storys.
Want to become an expert on Queenstown? Become an official Ambassador by taking QRC’s 3-hour Ambassador Program. It’s become a real hit since its inception and has now been customised for various cities/towns around New Zealand.