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           Home >  Travel N Leisure  > Walks  :

Queenstown to Kingston
A day trip with variety

Dorothy - 02/03/01

Lake and mountain scenery, an unusual walk, a historic railway

Kingston and the Devil's Staircase Track
On a pleasant sunny day we drove for forty minutes on State Highway 6 along the scenic, lake-edge Kingston Road to the entry point for the Devil's Staircase track. Before the Kingston/Queenstown road was built goods were taken by steamer or by packhorse from the railhead at Kingston, and this track follows part of the old pack track.

The first part of the track is a zigzag through remnant native forest.

Track through native forest
Track through native forest

Looking along the pack track
Looking along the pack track

Then the track follows along the old bridle trail with wonderful views of Lake Wakatipu and the mountains across the lake.
The last section of the walk descends parallel to the Staircase Creek through farmland to the road. I wouldn't suggest walking this track after heavy rain as this part of the track was fairly muddy even after several fine days and cattle in the paddock had stirred up the wet ground.

We walked back along the road beside the lake shore to where we had parked the car. The walk took about one and half hours.

On to Kingston
After our walk we drove the short distance to Kingston where we had a picnic on the foreshore. On both my recent visits to Kingston the weather has been fine and this little village has seemed like a lovely oasis of peace at the end of the lake.

There are a number of pleasant houses in the village, some clearly occupied all year round, others holiday houses. Camping sites, cabins and motel units are offered at the sheltered Kingston Stream Holiday Camp. The camp facilities include a store, TV, BBQ and linen for hire.

To contact the camp
Phone + 64 3 248 8501
Fax +64 3 248 8501

Kingston has a golf course, and a bowling green, and it is a great place to fish from the shore or launch your boat on the boat ramp and go fishing or trolling.

The Kingston Flyer
Many people in the Wakatipu area are very conscious of the district's history. The Invercargill - Kingston railway opened on 10 July 1878 to serve the Wakatipu goldfields. When the line closed to regular traffic, the section from Kingston to Fairlight was retained as a historical railway where steam trains make regular trips in the tourist season. The return trips on the Kingston Flyer from Kingston to Fairlight and back, 28 km (17 miles) run from 1 October to 30 April operating every day except Christmas Day. The morning trips leave at 10.15 a.m. returning by 11.30 a.m., and the afternoon trips leave at 3.45 p.m. returning by 5.10 p.m.

The historic Kingston railway station has been carefully preserved and is now operating as a tavern, tearoom and restaurant not far from the Holiday Camp.

Kingston Station
Kingston Station
Photo source Alister Hunt
When we arrived in Kingston the Kingston Flyer had steam up nearly ready for its next trip. If you want to travel on the historic train, plan the timing of your day so that you can combine a walk and a rail trip.

On the railway site of Marias Pass this railway enthusiast writes:

"In order to move locomotives in and out of different stalls in the roadhouse or shop two methods were generally used - turntables and transfer tables. While the turntable was usually relegated to the towns and cities where there was a major shop facility the turntable could be found even in remote locations such as the 'Armstrong' one in New Zealand at Kingston."

Steam up for next trip - the engine for the Kingston Flyer beside the turntable
Steam up for next trip - the engine for the Kingston Flyer beside the turntable
Photo source Alister Hunt
TSS Earnslaw at Queenstown in 2000
TSS Earnslaw at Queenstown in 2000
Photo source Alister Hunt
Historic steamer
A plaque on the foreshore at Kingston states that the Wakatipu steamers Mountaineer and Earnslaw were assembled and launched in this vicinity on 11 February 1879 and 24 February 1912 respectively. The Earnslaw
still operates as a tourist attraction offering trips on the lake.

A day to remember
The Wakatipu area offers wonderful day trips, rich in beautiful scenery, pleasant walks, interesting vegetation, bird life and historic interest. The trip to Kingston was of particular interest.

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