Queenstown is a resort town in Otago in the south-west of New Zealand's South Island. It is built around an inlet called Queenstown Bay on Lake Wakatipu, a long thin Z-shaped lake formed by glacial processes, and has spectacular views of nearby mountains.
William Gilbert Rees, along with fellow explorer Nicholas Von Tunzelman, were the first Europeans to settle the area. Rees was in search of pastoral land, and after an initial visit returned in 1860 to establish a high country farm in the location of Queenstown's current town centre. However the Rees’ farming lifestyle was to be short-lived. In 1862 gold was discovered in the Arrow River, a short distance from Queenstown at which point Rees converted his wool shed into a hotel named the Queen's Arms, now known as Eichardt's.
There are various apocryphal accounts of how the town was named, the most popular suggesting that a local gold digger exclaimed that the town was "fit for Queen Victoria". It is now known for its commerce-oriented tourism, especially adventure and ski tourism. It is popular with young international and New Zealand travellers alike.
The town is the largest centre in Central Otago, and the third largest in Otago. According to the 2006 census, the usually resident population of the Queenstown urban area (including Fernhill, Frankton and Kelvin Heights) is 10,416, an increase of 22.1% since 2001.
Its neighbouring towns include Arrowtown, Wanaka, Alexandra, and Cromwell. The nearest cities are Dunedin and Invercargill.
The Queenstown-Lakes District has a land area of 8,704.97 km² (3,361.01 sq mi) not counting its inland lakes (Lake Hawea, Lake Wakatipu, and Lake Wanaka). It has an estimated resident population of 27,800 (June 2010 estimate).