Queenstown is well turned out with an excellent tourist infrastructure and hospitality; good transport options, and some of the most accessible, high quality shopping and dining in the country. It is also a safe town, save the extreme sports, yet reading up on the place for tips on weather and transport will make your stay more rewarding.
New Zealanders are friendly and easy to talk to and always happy to converse with strangers and to lend assistance. They have a classless society, much like in Australia, but are perhaps not as abrupt as their larger neighbor and also do not appreciate being associated as Australian.
Although Queenstown is a party town, dressing appropriately will see you received better. Even though it is packed out with bars, drunken behavior on the streets, particularly during the day, is not well tolerated. Tipping is a non-issue in Queenstown, as with anywhere in New Zealand, apart from top-end restaurants.
Kiwis use the New Zealand dollar (NZ$), which is widely available and can be had in your home country and on arrival at New Zealand airports. Queenstown's banks and exchange booths, such as BNZ and Thomas Cook, have the best exchange rates.
Making use of your local debit card, or a credit card, at an ATM is far more convenient for obtaining local currency. Credit cards and travelers checks are accepted at the larger shops and restaurants. Although Queenstown is on the pricey side, prices for food, shopping and accommodation are reasonable and much less than anywhere else in the West for comparable quality.
Queenstown is at altitude and experiences warm summers and freezing winters. Being a ski town, winter is also high season and goes from May through August, while summers (December through February) are generally peak season with backpackers and thrill seekers. January is the wettest month, and March and October are quieter, transitional months.
If you are staying anywhere near downtown Queenstown, you can simply rely on foot power. The town center is not even half a mile across so you will never need to use the buses, unless traveling out to partake in some sport or other. For getting to and from the airport, or nearby Arrowtown, the Connect-a-bus is the best bet, and there is also a night bus. Water taxis also ply the lake.
Connect-a-bus runs to town from the Queenstown Airport (ZQN) every 30 minutes. Some services go via Arrowtown, so it is worth checking ahead if you want to go direct to Queenstown. Shared shuttle vans are faster than, and as economical as, the bus if you are in a large group, while taxis are several times the cost.
Spoken languages: English; Maori minimal
Electrical: 230 Volts, 50 Hertz
Phone/calling code: +64 3
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