The scenic drive from Queenstown to Kingston offers 40 km of mountain and lake scenery. Learn how to get there and see a video of what to expect on this scenic drive on the edge of Lake Wakatipu.

The scenic drive from Queenstown to Kingston follows State Highway 6 and is approximately 40 km (25 mi) in length.

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.

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 spot it easily, because its a protrusion that looks kind of like a beach.

There isn’t much to see when you reach Kingston, 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.

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.

From Tekapo, continue driving on State Highway 8 through Lindis Pass New Zealand. Once you reach Cromwell, hook onto State Highway 8B and then Highway 6 to Queenstown.

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 mountain passes, 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.

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

Below you’ll find a map showing State Highway 6 from Queenstown to Kingston. The star indicates the start of the scenic drive and the flag indicates the end of the scenic drive. Use the plus and minus buttons to zoom in and out of the map to see more or less detail on the map.

Figure 1. Map of State Highway 6 from Queenstown to Kingston, New Zealand.

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.

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