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Events In History

30 August 1926

Hundreds attended the opening ceremony for a dam above the Kawarau Falls which was to temporarily block the outlet from Lake Wakatipu and hopefully expose gold-bearing rock to prospectors.

24 February 1912

For more than a century, the TSS Earnslaw has carried freight and people to and from remote settlements on the shores of Lake Wakatipu.

285 km north-west of Dunedin and 187 km north of Invercargill, Queenstown sits halfway along Lake Wakatipu. William Rees had run sheep in the area for just two years when gold was discovered on the Shotover River in November 1862. A town sprang to life; the site of Rees’s old homestead, the Camp, is in the centre of Queenstown. After gold fever waned, the town declined. Through the first half of the 20th century it had fewer than 1,000 people, with a trickle of summer holidaymakers. In 1981 Queenstown’s resident population was still less than 3,500. Since then, tourist numbers increased rapidly – in winter as well as summer. The merchant Bendix Hallenstein gave the Queenstown peninsula to the town in 1866–67. Since then it has been the site of public gardens, with a number of sport facilities.
Meaning of place name
The popular belief is that both Kingston and Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu were named after places in Ireland. Chosen at a public meeting on 6 January 1863. The most plausible account is that miners, particulary those of Irish origin, had followed with interest news that Queen Victoria had bestowed the name Queenstown on The Cove, which was a small settlement in County Cork.