If you plan to base yourself in town then you won't need a car, as it's small and pleasantly walkable. However if you want to explore the surrounding areas then a car is invaluable. All the major car hire firms have offices at the airport or try one of the local companies such as Jucy rentals (www.jucy.co.nz). Around town the Connectabus (www.connectabus.com) has three colour-coded routes - catch the green one for shopping in Arrowtown.
You can catch a direct flight to Queenstown airport, 8km east of town, from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch with Air New Zealand (www.airnewzealand.co.nz), as well as from Sydney, Australia. Qantas (www.qantas.co.nz) also flies to Queenstown from Kiwi cities Auckland, Christchurch and Rotorua. Mainland Air (www.mainlandair.com) offers charter flights across the South Island. From the airport a taxi into town costs around NZ$25 or the Supershuttle (www.supershuttle.co.nz) can drop you in the centre for $16.
Country code for New Zealand: +64; Queenstown: (0)3.
Spot the sets from JRR Tolkein's orc-packed The Lord of the Rings trilogy, parts of which were shot in Queenstown.
Do go / Don't Go
Winter (June-August) is peak time for ski buffs to hit Queenstown, with blue skies, white slopes and temperatures that rarely rise above 8ºC. The rest of the year, the city and its spectacular natural surrounds warm up for walking, water sports and more extreme thrills and spills.
There are some excellent restaurants in Queenstown with most countries' cuisine represented. The main dining strips run from Steamer Wharf up Beach Street, splitting into Shotover and Church Streets. During warmer months join the crowds of al fresco diners and in winter grab a seat in front of a roaring fireplace.
There is a taxi rank on Camp Street and local firms include Alpine Taxi (+64 3 442 6666) and Queenstown Taxis (0800 788 294).
Tipping is optional, but if you're happy with restaurant service then a 5 to 10 per cent tip is common.
New Zealand dollar (NZ$).
Layer that North Face and Patagonia to wrangle Queentown's rollercoaster weather and work a sporty look.
The great outdoors is the big draw here but there are a handful of must-see galleries including toi o tahuna, at 11 Church Lane (+643 409 0787; www.toi.co.nz), that represents exclusively New Zealand art including contemporary Maori talents. Ask owner Mark Moran for the free guide to 'Galleries & Artist Studios in the Wakatipu' for a more comprehensive cultural crawl.
More leisurely pursuits include golf in summer and wineries to visit year-round. Another top tip is crossing Lake Wakatipu on the evocative, steam-powered TSS Earnslaw (www.zqn.co.nz/earnslaw) or hopping aboard the Kingston Flyer for a 14km heritage steam train ride between Kingston and Fairlight (www.kingstonflyer.co.nz).
Not surprisingly, Queenstown is brimming with specialist adventure and sports stores but there are a few sartorial gems too; Angel Divine, at 1, The Mall (+643 442 8988) stocks hot NZ designers including Kate Sylvester and Untouched World, at 1, The Mall (+643 442 4992; www.untouchedworld.com) is an ethical luxury fashion label that creates beautiful Merino wool garments. Kapa, at 29 Rees Street (+643 442 4041; www.kapa.co.nz) has local and Maori art work and jewellery. On Saturdays between April and December, a small arts and crafts market is held on the lakeside beside Steamer Wharf. The pretty gold-mining town of Arrowtown (www.arrowtown.org.nz), half an hour's drive from Queenstown, is also good for upmarket boutiques and specialist craft shops.
Queenstown's lakes and alpine mountains are eye-poppingly striking; admire the blockbuster location from atop the Skyline Gondola (www.skyline.co.nz), which includes a cafe and restaurant (closed for a revamp from 11 May to 7 June 2009).
There's a marked Frisbee Golf course in Queenstown Gardens where all you need is a frisbee and decent hand-eye coordination.
January After bringing in the new year with a bang Queenstown hosts the Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration over two days at the end of January (www.pinotcelebration.co.nz). March sees the annual Wakatipu Disc (Frisbee) Golf Tournaments held in Queenstown Gardens. April In nearby Arrowtown, the streets floweth over with festivities for the Autumn Festival (www.arrowtownautumnfestival.org.nz). June/July The highlight of the events calendar is the Queenstown Winterfestival celebrated over 10 fun-filled days from late June to July (www.winterfestival.co.nz).