Queenstown’s not just a party town


Queenstown’s reputation as a one-dimensional adrenalin-fuelled party town is under threat – from its own burgeoning arts scene. 

The resort’s ability to offer tourists a more cultural experience is now gaining international media attention with an article in esteemed US newspaper The Washington Post. 

Writer Michael Kaminer spent a week pottering around Queenstown’s galleries and studios late last year. 

Kaminer was surprised to find canvases by superstar British artist Damien Hurst adorning gallery walls, a collection of talented Kiwi artists in residence and a thriving local scene. 

Arrowtown gallery owner Nadene Milne says: “It certainly adds depth to the experience both for locals and for tourists. 

“Queenstown can be seen as one-dimensional but there are a lot of people, not necessarily visible, working towards creating a much more culturally-orientated environment here. 

“You’ve got two kinds of art – representative art which is about painting what you see outside and there’s always a tourist market, it’s souvenir art. 

“And then you’ve another thing going on here now which is that there’s more serious, cultural comment in the work. We sit separate from most of the dealers.” 

Abstract grand master Max Gimblett, the New York-based New Zealand artist, will exhibit in the gallery in March. 

Kaminer also visited the Dick Frizzell exhibition at Milford Galleries, Sue and Spike Wademan’s studio and Tim Wilson’s studio – with Alice Blackley’s firm Art Adventures. 

The latest Kiwi edition of The Lonely Planet also draws attention to Queenstown’s art scene. “…A new Queenstown is also emerging, with a cosmopolitan restaurant and arts scene and excellent vineyards,” it reads.
Destination Queenstown boss Graham Budd says: “We can’t buy that type of coverage, it’s terrific and why we have a team focused on hosting media. 

“We’re very conscious it’s a vibrant arts scene here. It may well be another segment that is attractive to high-value visitors. We already have significant numbers coming for golf, wine, dining and spa.”