However you first cap eyes on beautiful Queenstown - whether it is arriving by plane taking in the stunning views across Lake Wakatipu as your plane touches down amidst the surrounding mountains, or by road as you get your first glimpse of the lake framed by a picture perfect mountain backdrop - it is certain to stay with you forever.
A resort town on the South Island of New Zealand, Queenstown is one of the most popular places to visit in New Zealand and on many people's 'Must See' list. Films such as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and TV series Top Of The Lake have also been drawn to the unique beauty of Queenstown and its surrounding area.
Well-known for its adventure activities and snow sports Queenstown is often overlooked in other seasons but has a lot to offer all-year round.
With beautiful clear blue skies and temperatures reaching 30 degrees Queenstown is a popular place to visit in summer. Queenstown can offer you a typical kiwi Christmas and New Year by having a BBQ on the beach and watching their famous firework display. For those brave enough the icy cold glacial waters of Lake Wakatipu can offer a brief refuge from the hot summer sun. Spend time by the lake enjoying a picnic on the beach, take a kayak out and explore the shores of the lake, watch the gorgeous sunset from one of the many surrounding walks, take a hike up Queenstown Hill and view the scenic panorama from the top, or brave a jet boat ride across the lake. Camping at the DOC site at nearby Moke Lake is also popular at this time of year. It offers a challenging drive to reach it but you are rewarded with serenity and incredible views to wake up to!
Enjoy the seasonal colours in Queenstown in autumn with a walk along shores of Queenstown or a cycle along the Frankton arm. You can also get out and about explore the surrounding areas which look especially beautiful at this time of year - visit the historic gold mining town of Arrowtown or enjoy Wanaka"s vibrant colourful trees that line the shores. Taking a boat trip out on the famous T. S. S. Earnslaw steamship is another good option in the autumnal sunshine, as you take in 360 degree views across the lake. With less visitors to Queenstown at this time of year you can skip the longer queues at world-famous Fergburger and enjoy eating your legendary burger overlooking the beautiful expansive surrounding Southern Alps.
Queenstown is perhaps most famous for its snow season - with the Remarkables and Coronet Peak offering two excellent ski fields for sking and snowboarding. Other options at this time of year include taking a trip up the skyline gondola to look down over the town and across the snow-capped mountains. Whilst at the top and for the more adventurous among you take a bungy jump with AJ Hackett Bungy. For those with a bigger budget a helicopter trip up onto a nearby snow-covered mountain on a sunny day can provide some of the best and most scenic views in all of New Zealand. Once back on the ground warm up in the nearby relaxing Onsen hot pools.
Spring in Queenstown tends to be quieter and a perfect time to take a stroll through Queenstown gardens, admiring the spring flowers or perhaps taking in a game of the legendary disc golf. Visiting the Kiwi Birdlife Park off-peak means you avoid the crowds and can have more time alone with the beautiful birds and kiwis - and your entrance fee goes towards helping protect New Zealand's native flora and fauna. Or you could visit local picturesque Lake Hayes taking a circular walk or cycle around the lake - and there are excellent wineries nearby for those who wish to relax with a glass of wine. Another option nearby is to spend time in the small town of Glenorchy. The drive there alone is worth it - with incredible views along the road that hugs the side of the mountain twisting and turning alongside Lake Wakatipu. Take a Dart River Wilderness Trip (including an exhilarating jet boat ride) and explore Mount Aspiring National Park, or take a horse trek through Paradise with Dart Stables.
Queenstown really does cater for everyone and has proven itself as one of New Zealand's best all-year-round destinations.
All photographs are copyright of Nicola Barnard Photography.
Nicola works as a personal travel counsellor and has over 15 years experience of planning and booking trips - including her own destination wedding to Lake Tahoe, California, and her round-the-world honeymoon. Nicola has specialist experience in planning bespoke off-the-beaten-track New Zealand itineraries.