Get a full description and see a video of the 40 km mountains and lake scenic drive from Queenstown to Kingston on the South Island of New Zealand.
The scenic drive from Queenstown to Kingston follows State Highway 6 and is approximately 40 km (25 mi) long.
Driving at about 100 km/h (62 mph), it would take approximately 25 – 30 minutes to drive from Queenstown to Kingston.
However, you won’t be able to drive 100 km/h consistently, because of the many curves in the road.
The road is pretty flat and straight from the roundabout at Queenstown airport until it starts skirting the edge of Lake Wakatipu, where it then becomes hilly and winding.
About 3.5 km (2.2 mi) from the roundabout at Queenstown airport when you are driving South from Queenstown to Kingston, you will find a turnoff that leads to the Remarkables ski field.
You can drive up the Remarkable access road as a side trip to get scenic views of Queenstown, Frankton Arm, Queenstown airport, and the mountains surrounding Queenstown.
A large part of this section of State Highway 6 runs along the Eastern edge of Lake Wakatipu.
You’ll get scenic views of mountains and of Lake Wakatipu during this entire scenic drive. There are a few picnic spots along the way, but the best one I’ve found is the third one when coming from Kingston.
When you’re driving towards Kingston, you can easily spot it, because its a protrusion that looks kind of like a beach.
There isn’t much to see when you reach Kingston, which is the town at the Southern end of Lake Wakatipu. It is a small and quiet town.
From the main road into the town (King Street), you can take a right turn onto Churchill Street to get to a spot where you can enjoy the views from the Southern end of Lake Wakatipu. There is a bench there where you can sit, have lunch, and enjoy the view.
How to get to Queenstown
The quickest and easiest way to get to Queenstown is by catching a flight to Queenstown airport. But because flights do not arrive from everywhere in the world at Queenstown airport, you may not be able to fly directly to Queenstown.
If you’re driving from Christchurch, drive South in the direction of Timaru on State Highway 1. On State Highway 1, once you’ve passed Ashburton, you’ll see a sign for Mount Cook (Aoraki) and Geraldine. Hook onto State Highway 79 to Geraldine.
Continue driving on State Highway 79 until you reach Fairlie. In Fairlie, take State Highway 8 to Mount Cook and Tekapo.
This can be seen as the best route from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo.
The drive from Christchurch to Queenstown can take up to 7 hours. While there are long and straight stretches of road, you’ll be going through a mountain pass, and the road will get hilly and winding at times.
It’s less scary than it sounds, though. This drive can become uncomfortable, because of the length of time you’ll have to sit behind the wheel. But you can take several breaks from driving along the way to better enjoy the scenery.
And if you’re wondering, there are public toilets in a few of the towns along this route, for example in Geraldine, Fairlie, and Tekapo.
Basic info for the scenic drive from Queenstown to Kingston
|Driving distance:||40 km (25 mi)|
|Driving time:||25 – 30 minutes|
|Road type:||Sealed (paved) two-lane highway|
|Road condition:||Very good; a bit bumpy, but generally smooth driving|
|Best time to drive:||Morning|
|What you’ll see:||Mountains, bush, Lake Wakatipu|
Click here to see a map for this scenic drive on State Highway 6 from Queenstown to Kingston.
Video of the Queenstown to Kingston scenic drive
The 4-minute video below takes you on a scenic drive from Queenstown to Kingston and back on a sunny morning in summer. It shows you the view from the Southern end of Lake Wakatipu as well as from a nice picnic spot along State Highway 6.
This article falls under Scenic Drives.
Note: Roads can be changed or get closed. The information presented here was accurate when it was gathered.