Queenstown and the Southern Lakes region have a rich cultural heritage that should be explored during your visit.
Queenstown is steeped in a history of pioneering adventurers. The early settlers that made the place their home have left a lasting mark on the town, and inspired inventors and adventurers ever since. The stories of these early adventurers are immortalised in the legacies they've left on the whenua (land) - some of these historically significant places have been recognised as Tohu Whenua - landmarks that tell our stories. These places offer some of the best heritage experiences in the country.
Venture off road or into the bush to learn about the region's astounding natural heritage, or explore the old farm homesteads and historic gold mining villages for a peek into early settler life. There are also numerous heritage walks to be had in and around Queenstown, exploring the unforgettable natural scenery that forms the backbone to this region's fascinating history.
If history is really your thing, you can delve into the incredible pioneering background of the Southern Lakes at the Lakes District Museum in Arrowtown —a globally recognised collection of facts, titbits and items from region’s European and Chinese settlers.
Queenstown also has a rich Maori heritage—in Maori mythology Lake Whakatipu itself was formed when the indentation left by a sleeping giant was flooded. Members of South Island tribes ventured into the Wakatipu Basin in search of food and New Zealand’s precious pounamu (jade), long before the first European settlers arrived. You can explore this heritage with dinner and a cultural show or with a visit to one of the many stores selling pounamu in Queenstown.
Back to more modern times, Queenstown is home to some extremely talented musicians, actors, dancers and artists.
Browse and purchase exceptional local artworks when you visit the art galleries of Queenstown and Arrowtown. Most pieces of art on display in the region's galleries are for sale. In many cases, you can buy art directly from the artists themselves in their galleries or studios.
Tohu Whenua Landmarks
Tohu Whenua are the places that have shaped Aotearoa New Zealand. Located in stunning landscapes and rich with stories, they offer some of our best heritage experiences.