Queenstown is nestled amidst the awe-inspiring Southern Alps on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Known as the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’, its name often piques curiosity.
So why is Queenstown called Queenstown?
Queenstown is called Queenstown because the town was christened during the gold rush in the 1860s. Local miners, struck by the area’s incomparable beauty, purportedly declared it a town fit for Queen Victoria, thus leading to the name ‘Queenstown’.
But there’s more to the meaning of Queenstown than meets the eye—namely, the intriguing story behind its name.
Why is Queenstown called Queenstown?
There are several theories surrounding the naming of Queenstown, but one theory is more widely accepted amongst Kiwis today.
One theory suggests that Queenstown was originally called ‘The Camp’ by William Rees, an early settler and key figure in the town’s history. But at the time, it seemed the name ‘Queenstown’ resonated more with the inhabitants and eventually became the town’s official title.
Another theory states that Queenstown was named after a town in Ireland. Cobh, Ireland, was renamed Queenstown in 1849 following a visit from Queen Victoria of England.
Whether the New Zealand town was named directly after its Irish counterpart or if the name was simply inspired by it remains unclear.
The Most Accepted Theory
While these theories provide fascinating insights, the most widely accepted explanation for the town’s name relates to the gold rush era. In 1863, at a public meeting, the name ‘Queenstown’ was chosen. It’s believed that the name was selected by miners who were struck by the area’s beauty.
These miners, many of whom were from the UK, reportedly declared that the town was fit for Queen Victoria, leading to the name ‘Queenstown’.
The initial discovery of gold in the region was made by Jack Tewa in 1862 by the Arrow River. This discovery sparked a gold rush, transforming the once tranquil pastoral land into a bustling hub of activity. The gold rush shaped Queenstown’s history and likely contributed to its naming.
The Maori Name for Queenstown
It’s also worth noting that Queenstown has a Maori name – Tāhuna, which means ‘shallow bay’. The Maori name for Queenstown reflects the town’s geographical features, with Lake Wakatipu being a prominent part of the landscape.
Regardless of the exact origins of its name, there’s no denying that Queenstown lives up to its regal title. From its natural beauty to its rich historical tapestry, Queenstown truly is a town fit for a queen.