With a legendary setting looking across Lake Wakatipu to the craggy heights of the Remarkables range, Queenstown is undoubtedly the region's jewel. New Zealand's self-proclaimed adventure capital, it can take on the atmosphere of a high-priced theme park, offering the chance to indulge in just about every adrenalin-fuelled activity imaginable: numerous competing operators have honed bungy jumping, jetboating, rafting, skydiving and paragliding into well-packaged, forcefully marketed products – although they're no less exciting for it. All this wonderful scenery and adventure has gained something of an international profile, providing some of the background for major feature films such as Martin Campbell's The Vertical Limit; The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe andThe Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Queenstown is in many ways a victim of its own popularity. Kiwis and visitors seduced by New Zealand's tranquil rural beauty can often be overheard complaining that the country's main centre for adventure sports is getting overcrowded and too big for its boots. There is no doubt that it is one of New Zealand's most popular and commercialized year-round resorts, with haphazard development threatening to mar its beauty. But Queenstown remains an idyllic spot, attractively set beside the deep-blue Lake Wakatipu and hemmed in by craggy mountains. Furthermore, it offers the best selection of restaurants outside of the bigger cities, some of the flashiest (and most highly priced) accommodation in the country, and a nightlife that may suck you in for longer than you expect.