Queenstown-Lakes District is on the eastern side of the Southern Alps and encompasses the southern lakes – Lakes Wakatipu, Hayes, Wanaka and Hawea. It is known for its spectacular mountain scenery with The Remarkables, Mt Aspiring, Mt Earnslaw, high altitude mountain ranges, deep valleys, clear wild rivers and native bush. The predominant areas of settlement are in the Wakatipu Basin, with Queenstown, Frankton and Arrowtown, and the Upper Clutha Basin with Wanaka, Albert Town and Lake Hawea. While the district has a history of gold mining and large high country farms producing fine merino wool and cattle it has especially been known for a long time as a premium tourist destination. Queenstown, in particular, has an international reputation that is reflected in its population and business activities and it contains substantial hotels and conference centres. Across the district are numerous recreation activities including five major skifields, bungy jumping, jet boating, white water rafting, canoeing, hiking trails, mountaineering and fishing. In the 2006 Census this district was the fastest growing in the country with population growth of 29.2%, Queenstown increase was 26.5% and Wanaka 45.3%. In both of these localities there has been unprecedented major commercial development since 2000.
Central Otago is the driest part of the country with annual rainfall of around 325 mm. In winter it is also the coldest region, in summer it is amongst the hottest and it consequently has spectacular vivid seasonal changes. The landscape is rocky and mountainous with large areas of tussock grasslands and in the valley of the Clutha River are the large Clyde and Roxburgh hydro power stations. This area has been particularly known in the past for gold mining, fine wool farming and stone fruit and pip fruit production but in more recent years viticulture has also become a major activity. The major towns are Alexandra, which is the largest service centre, and Cromwell which has become the processing centre for wine production and an industrial service base for Queenstown and Wanaka. Across this district are attractions such as gold heritage sites, the Central Rail Trail, the Clyde Dam, Lake Dunstan, award winning wineries and recreation activities including wine trails, fishing, mountain biking, skating and curling. From the 2006 five yearly Census the District population increased 14.7%, Alexandra increase was 9.1% and Cromwell 32.6%.