Did such a lake exist in Europe, it would be classed as one of the most picturesque and wildly grand and magnificent objects of interest to all wonder seekers and would attract tourists from all parts of the continent and America.McKay’s Otago Almanac of 1870
Queenstown has long been recognised as an area of outstanding natural beauty, and the infrastructure put in place during the gold rush made it easy for early tourists to get here.
Hotels were built at Kinloch and Glenorchy, at the head of the lake in the mid-1870s. The Dunedin to Kingston railway was established in the late 1870s and special fares made a trip to Queenstown within reach for the working classes.
In the early 1900s, Summer was the key season for tourism. Visitors flocked to Queenstown and its surrounds for the famous walking tracks; Ben Lomond was a key attraction. This gradually began to change in the late-1930, with the help of the Mount Cook Company.
The Mount Cook Company hired a ski instructor and built huts and a rope tow on Coronet Peak in 1947, kick-starting Queenstown’s reputation as a year-round resort.
In 1960, commercial jet boat rides started operating in the resort. 1988 saw the world’s first commercial bungee jumping begin thanks to entrepreneurs AJ Hackett and Henry Van Asch.
Growth in the tourism industry in the Wakatipu region has skyrocketed since the 1950s. Today it’s the district’s primary industry and there’s a plethora of activities to suit every kind of traveller.