Published on : Monday, June 15, 2015
Once-a-year, tens of thousands of New Zealanders and international visitors come together to celebrate Queenstown as one of the world’s greatest tourism destinations in a 10-day long extravaganza that showcases the best of what the area has to offer.
New Zealand is a land renowned for its natural beauty, and Queenstown is without question one of the brightest jewels in its crown. Nestled deep in the Southern Alps of New Zealand’s South Island and on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is surrounded on all sides by some of the most spectacular scenery to be seen anywhere in the world.
Settled by Europeans in 1860 as a high-country farm, Queenstown is now far better known as one of the world’s première tourism destinations. With spectacular views of nearby mountains including The Remarkables mountain-range, Cecil Peak and Walter Peak, Queenstown is beautiful year-round.
Located close to the Otago region’s six ski fields and boasting more than 200 adventure tourism activities, Queenstown is definitely the place to go if you’re looking to get the adrenaline pumping through your veins.
As the birthplace of commercial bungee jumping, Queenstown holds a special place in adventure tourism history, and also plays host to white-water rafting, canyon swings, jet boating through narrow gorges and paragliding from mountaintops (to name just a few of the must-do activities).
If you’re feeling like something a little more relaxing however, Queenstown has an array of beautiful scenic walks, a world-class golf course, local wineries, fine dining establishments and historical attractions including the 103-year-old steamship, the TSS Earnslaw, which takes visitors on regular scenic tours of Lake Wakatipu.
American Express Queenstown Winter Festival
Started in 1975 as an excuse for a party, the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival is now in its 41st year and is often touted as the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest winter party, regularly bringing in over 45,000 visitors (which is a lot for a town with a regular population of about 12,500).
In its first year the festival featured races up the nearby mountains, great entertainment and an across-town ball with beer for adults and soda for kids. It was such fun that when the town held it again the following year, word-of-mouth drew crowds from further afield that have only ever grown over the 40 years that followed.
That practice of having events for people of all ages and interests proved a successful one, and the festival now ranks above Oktoberfest and the New Orleans Jazz Festival on Yahoo!7 Travel’s Top 10 ‘must-see’ festivals.
It will all kick off this year on Friday June 19, starting with flash and flair at the American Express Opening Party with a fireworks display over Lake Wakatipu, featuring The Remarkables mountain-range as a picture-perfect backdrop.
Over the next 10 days the town will play host to an eye-popping array of street-parties, competitions, comedy and jazz acts (both local and international) and lakeside attractions.
A small taste of what’s on
The annual winter festival has always contained a good mix of both active and relaxing activities, some new and some stretching back to the first festival.
One such golden-oldie is early-morning skinning (hiking). Keen skinners will head up Coronet Peak in the early morning to catch the spectacular morning sunrise from the summit (with prizes for speedy skinners).
If snow is your thing you could head to the Remarkables for the Slopestyle Invitational, watching New Zealand’s best skiers and snowboarders show off their tricks. Or if you’re after a bit of (slightly mad) fun you could visit Coronet Peak for the Auckland Airport Suitcase Race, where the young and young-at-heart race down the snowy slopes in suitcases.
Those looking for an artistic outlet could visit the Creative Queenstown Arts and Crafts Market at Earnslaw Park, or watch the floats in the American Express Festival Street Parade. This year’s theme is ‘sustainability’, with each float reflecting the idea in some way.
The evenings are just as much fun (they always are in Queenstown), with nights full of music thanks to events like the Sony Mobile Evening Sessions at Earnslaw Park, where heaters and mulled wine will keep punters warm while they’re being entertained with movies, DJs, local bands and solo artists.
And for those looking for a good laugh, the American Express Comedy Debate will feature some of New Zealand’s best comedians and personalities, who will come together to hash out whether a good adventure should be dangerous.
Source:- Tourism New Zealand