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Queenstown tours and excursions

Queenstown tours

Boat tours

The coal-fired steamer TSS Earnslaw conducts nostalgic cruises around Lake Wakatipu daily. It includes an opportunity to visit a working sheep farm to sample a traditional Kiwi way of life, as well as horse back riding and cycling.

Tel: (03) 249 7416.
Website: http://www.realjourneys.co.nz

Plane tours

Undoubtedly the best, but unfortunately also the most expensive, way to see Queenstown and the surrounding area is from the air. Trilogy Trail's range of Lord of the Rings location-focused tours include some where the main mode of transportation is small Glenorchy Air planes.

Tel: (03) 442 2207.
Website: http://www.trilogytrail.com

Walking tours

A plethora of tour companies provide all manner of ways in which to explore Queenstown and its surrounds. Guided half and full day nature walks in the Wakatipu Basin and Mount Aspiring National Park are run by New Zealand Guided Nature Walks.

Tel: (03) 442 7126.
Website: http://www.nzwalks.com

Helicopter tours

For those who want to travel in true style, The Helicopter Line offers the chance to see dramatic views of the region's lakes, mountains and glaciers.

Tel: (03) 442 3034 or 0800 500 575.
Website: http://www.helicopter.co.nz

Queenstown excursions

Glenorchy

Discover some of the breath-taking scenes used as a backdrop in the Lord of the Ring movie trilogy and The Hobbit with a trip to Glenorchy. Set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and the River Dart, visit the locations where the Fortress of Isengard, Forest of Lothlorien and other famous Peter Jackson scenes were filmed, as well as scenes from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Tours can be arranged but it's also easy to view these locations independently. Glenorchy is not just for film buffs, however; horse trekking, hiking and kayaking can also be arranged here.

Mount Cook

It's possible to do a day trip to witness the splendour of Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest peak at 3,754m (12,316ft). Part of a World Heritage park, it nestles within the Mackenzie Basin, which boasts over 30, 3,000m-high (12,000ft) peaks, part of the rugged Southern Alps. It also has five of New Zealand's largest glaciers, including the Tasman Glacier at 21km in length. Scenic flights over the park provide unparalleled views, but there are also 4WD safaris, boating, horse treks, fishing and hiking opportunities too.

Website: http://www.mtcooknz.com

Milford Sound

The majestic Milford Sound is just within reach for a long day trip from Queenstown. Here visitors can experience the impressive landscape of cliffs, peaks and waterfalls. If budget is not a factor, airborne trips are much faster as they avoid the circuitous road around the Remarkables. Milford Sound is part of the 1.2 million hectares (3 million acres) Fiordland National Park, New Zealand's largest national park. Popular activities in the park include hiking, sea kayaking, diving, cycling, golf, fishing and sailing. The Milford Track, which stretches some 53.5km (33 miles) from Glade Wharf to Sandfly Point, has been described as one of the most scenic walks in the world, taking visitors on a rugged, alpine journey through the park's most breathtaking scenery. Visitors should, however, note that a permit is required for the track and these must be booked through the Visitor Centre in Te Anau.

Tel: (03) 249 7959.
Website: http://www.fiordland.org.nz

Arrowtown

Founded in a 19th-century gold rush, nearby Arrowtown has a fascinating historical legacy, much of which can be explored in the Lakes District Museum and Gallery, 49 Buckingham Street. Just a 20 minutes drive from Queenstown, it still features tiny miners' cottages, which have been converted into shops, galleries, bars and restaurants. It is also the gateway for walking and biking trails, with many starting and finishing in the town centre.

Website: http://www.arrowtown.com