New to Queenstown? Your guide to settling in

When I moved to Queenstown New Zealand over fifteen years ago it seemed smaller, quieter. I wondered how I would ever get used to which shops were on The Mall and which were on Beach Street (tbh I still get confused) but I joined the local running group and went to the library and started from there.

Queenstown seemed to be a mish-mash of locals, tourists, young people. Some here for the snow, sports fanatics here for the races and hospitality staff here to party and so I had to work out where I fitted in and also remove some of the little discrepancies I had heard from others about the town.
Don’t be put off by the word on the street (out of this town) that seems to be “Queenstown doesn’t have a community”. It has a massive one, you just have to unlock the layers and voilà. So many people here in the same position as you; close family a thousand miles away all looking for somewhere to call home.

This place gets into your bones. It’s expensive, fast paced and often chews people up and sadly for some it feels like they are spat out, but if you can find your place this town has a giant heart beating right at the core.

When you arrive find your group(s). There’s HEAPS of them happening here and a few to get your teeth into and make some friends:

New to Queenstown? Your guide to settling in

Get outside

Running groups
Monday Runday
Every Monday at 6pm a new run every week (between 6-12k) and lots of levels so don’t worry about being slow!

Triathlon swim squad
Alpine Aqualand have a squad that runs every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday at 6.30am. All levels.

Open water swimming
Southern Lakes Swimming Club. Every Saturday at 9am at the Scout Den Near the Boatshed on Frankton Marina.

Park Run
Every Saturday at 8am (Summer) and 9am (Winter) is Park Run. A free timed 5k run by volunteers. Get yourself on the list for helping and also run it!

Weekly mountain bike rides with Torpedo 7 here!

Active QT (the one and only Adrian Bailey) have more races than you could shake a stick at. Have a look at what’s going on and you’ll be sure to find something you can get into your lycra for and meet some newbies.

New to Queenstown? Your guide to settling in New to Queenstown? Your guide to settling in

Get Involved 

Wakatipu Potters Group

The biggest list of clubs to join you can find here! From curling, to line dancing to gardening. Why have I never found this before….?

Volunteering: Plenty of places to get involved here.

I have a locals podcast and section on the website to see what people get up to!

New to Queenstown? Your guide to settling in New to Queenstown? Your guide to settling in

What you need

If it’s Spring/Summer get a fan asap. If it’s Autumn/Winter get a heater. ASAP. The houses here are not always the best and you might find yourself shivering in your thermals before long. (**Note to self get some thermals**) and often it gets really hot in Summer so get yourself down to the local second hand shop and get a fan before they all go.

Get some good boots/ runners for walking/ hiking. There’s so many trails out there even the biggest hater of the outdoors gets out there. Get your camera ready and get your smiles on, you’re bound to meet someone who’s new to the area.

The sun here is evil and I mean burns-within-a-second evil. It’s very strong, even in Winter, so get a big pot of suncream and slip, slop, slap my friends.

Get up to speed on what’s happening with the hospital, who isn’t pulling their weight at QLDC, a new breed of sheep… all can be discovered at Crux. A fantastic journalistic goldmine.

New to Queenstown? Your guide to settling in

Support/ Help

Happiness House for everything you might need even if you don’t need it. Access to supportive chats and somewhere warm to hang out. They have weekly groups, free food, second hand stuff and access to Legal advice every month.

Central Lakes Family Services for anyone experiencing family violence/ abuse or sexual assault and families experiencing mild to moderate mental health difficulties. Families, individuals, children.

Citizens Advice Bureau. Not sure if it’s legal? ask the experienced team here.

Medical Centres:
Queenstown Medical Centre
Wakatipu Medical Centre

Lakes District Hospital Emergency and Midwife team

Community Mental Health Team

New to Queenstown? Your guide to settling in


Pick up a copy of these releases (yep paper is still king here) for current jobs in the area : Mountain Scene/ Lakes Weekly Bulletin and online here: Seek.

Co-working spaces- Sherwood, Fluid Sharespace, Yonder .

New to Queenstown? Your guide to settling in

Community Facebook Pages

Queenstown Lakes Women – 1500 strong founded my moi! A safe and supportive environment for wāhine and anyone identifies.

Start Up Queenstown Lakes

Queenstown Creative Collective

Queenstown Photographers Community

Queenstown Trading

Queenstown Lakes Entrepreneurs 

New to Queenstown? Your guide to settling in

Quiet places
When Queenstown gets a bit busy in those seasons (let’s be honest all year now) here are some lovely places to sit, reflect and realise why you came to this amazing place.

Sam Summers Loop
Moke Lake
Moonlight Track
Trails Trust Trails
Lake Hayes
Kevin Heights Peninsula Trail
Jacks Point Club House

New to Queenstown? Your guide to settling in

Local places

Atlas for good steak and chips and craft beer.
Joes Garage for coffee and great vintage ski videos
Sherwood for yoga, coffe, lunch, dinner and hanging out.
Raeward Fresh for coffee and bagels and local banter.
QLDC Library lets be honest, I always head to the library for ‘what’s on’ in a new place and this library is awesome. A quiet place to sit and work too.
Remarkables Market every Saturday 9am-2pm October through to April. Winter markets coming!

If you’re new here and want a full pack itinerary to really get your teeth into the place check out my 1-3 day must do’s for Queenstown and Wanaka. 

Homesickness is totally normal. I spent so much time thinking “what have I done?” and then slowly but surely I found my place. I ‘fit’ into little pockets of the place and before long I knew where to head to get my coffee where there wouldn’t be queues, where to get the best bagels from and where the hikes were that your camera would weep. Give it time. And you’ll fall in love with it every single day.

I’d love to know what you needed to know when you first moved here. Get in touch with your list!

So much thanks to photos from