I walked up Queenstown Hill many years ago and enjoyed the views that
opened up when we went beyond the exotic forest into an open tussocky area.
This year the walk holds further interest as panels on the uphill side of
the loop walk portray what has happened to the Queenstown area over time.
At present you enter the walk near the corner of Kent Street and Edgar
Street, but subdivisions for housing are being opened up in this area, so
the access point may soon be higher on the hill.
Panels tell the story of Queenstown
symbols of the local area.
You soon reach the first panel which depicts some of what early Maori found
in the area - the tikumu (daisy), pounamu (greenstone), haramea (the plant
known as wild Spaniard), and the moa (the tall bird which is now extinct.
The Waitaha were the first tribe in the Queenstown area, and are thought to
have been there from around 1100 AD. In the 1500s they were joined by the
Ngati Mamoe, and these tribes integrated with the Ngai Tahu about 1600
You pass through a beautifully designed wrought iron gate depicting
The second panel describes how coastal tribes came on seasonal trips for
food, trapping birds and catching eels. The native pigeon is depicted on
this panel. Because of its weight and its slow flight it was fairly easily
Queenstown Hill was once known as TE TAPU NUI - which means 'very sacred' -
a place of great significance to Maori.
Pastoralism and Gold is the heading of the third panel. First came the
owners of large tracts of land, building homes and intending to stay.
William Rees's homestead, which he called The Camp, became the site of the
town of Queenstown. Then came the discovery of gold in 1862 and a huge
increase in population. By 1863 there were twenty six hotels in the area
and a hospital had been built at Frankton. In 1866 Queenstown became a
municipality and the Queenstown Gardens were established.
Panel four deals with transportation.
In 1878 the railway line from Invercargill to Kingston was opened.
Previously the Cobb and Co coaches had taken several days to travel from
Dunedin to Queenstown. Now the journey could be taken by rail and took
only thirteen hours.
Steamers first operated on Lake Wakatipu in 1880. In 1912 the SS
Earnslaw began to ply the lake and you still can take a trip on
this historic steamer.
In 1915 motorised transport was allowed into the town. In 1936 the road
from Kingston to Queenstown was opened and the aerodrome was built in
Tourism follows naturally as the theme for Panel five.
In 1939 the Coronet Peak skifield began operation. The tourism which was developing rather slowly at first was given a boost
when the Government gave free holidays to Returned Servicemen after the
war. In 1962 the
road to Glenorchy was opened.
The 1970s saw the building of large hotels.
1988 was the date of the first bungy jumping at the Kawarau River Bridge.
1995 brought the first direct international flights to the airport at
The Time Walk demands only average fitness
The panels on the walk uphill offer natural places to pause, read and
reflect. The walk is well graded and presents no problems for people of
average fitness, but it climbs steadily and for most people the excuse to
pause will be welcome, especially on a hot day.
Trees on the hill
The trees on the walk, mainly Douglas fir, provide shade for most of the
uphill section of the Time Walk. In addition to the fir trees there are
rowan, macrocarpa, eucalyptus and larch, and some native plants such as
hard fern, matagouri, tussock, manuka, coprosma, and dracophyllum (the
Beyond the forest
Soon after you leave the shelter of the trees you come to a mountain tarn.
The photo shows the Remarkables viewed over the tarn with a paradise duck
swimming away as we approached.