The Queenstown Gardens should be on top of every travellers to-do list. Set on the tranquil peninsula along Lake Wakatipu, the gardens are renowned for their remarkable serenity as well as a beautiful showcase of flowery blooms. Given that it is conveniently located a short walking distance from downtown, this botanic paradise is also a focal point for many community activities.
Earnslaw Park’s central location, adjacent to Steamer Wharf and Lake Wakatipu, has made it a popular events hub year-round. The Creative Queenstown Arts and Crafts Market attracts visitors to the park every Saturday with its vibrant stalls and live music. Other major events held at Earnslaw Park include the Queenstown Winter Festival, and Summerdaze New Year’s Eve Celebrations. On a regular day out, though, you can easily prop yourself on the lovely grassy plains to admire the flowerbeds and willow trees in the distance.
The Village Green is the perfect place to settle down for lunch after exploring the town. This park is renowned for its terraced lawns, which nicely connect to the Horne Creek channel flows, and ample seating facilities overlooking the major shopping precinct. Its setting also gives you a picture-perfect view of the Skyline Gondola. If you’re visiting during the winter months, The Village Green’s terrains are usually turned into an ice-skating rink for the Winter Festival.
St Omer Park is a landscaped wonder that sits parallel to Lake Wakatipu. Along with gorgeous lakeside and mountain range vistas, this park is also a key place to visit if you want to settle down for a picnic or barbecue (you’ll find cooking facilities on-site). There are also various walking trails to explore, which will bring you up close and personal to some of the willow trees planted by the park’s founder, Francois St Omer, in the late nineteenth century.
The Marine Parade overlooks Queenstown Beach and Lake Wakatipu. A network of well-maintained lawns and walking trails connects this lovely park to others nearby – including the Queenstown Gardens, and the Fallen Soldiers Memorial. The Marine Parade’s Bathhouse is a pleasant place to grab a cup of coffee or a bite to eat. There’s a playground next door to it, and the beach is right on your doorstep.
World War One made a strong impression on New Zealand culture and tradition. Just about every single town and city will have a special memorial park, and Queenstown is no different. Except, there is a special uniqueness to the Fallen Soldiers Memorial. One side of the archway carries the names of all the soldiers who died in battle, while the other is a record of everyone who served. The memorial’s waterfront location, nicely adorned by the surrounding birch trees, was selected because of its prominence — it’s a way of educating residents and tourists about the community’s wartime history.
Lastly, something on the off-the-beaten-track spectrum. If you’re road-tripping into Glenorchy, make sure to set your sights on the underrated Pigeon Island. This reserve, along with its neighbouring Pig Island, was gifted by the British Crown in 1884 for the enjoyment of the wider Queenstown District public. Both islands are predator and pest free, to protect their native bird species. If you want to see Pigeon and/or Pig Island from up close, make a detour by Bennetts Bluff, kayak towards the islands, and go trekking along the untapped terrains.