The Frankton Road area sits between Queenstown's CBD and the city of Frankton. With its close proximity to the main tourist areas, amazing lake views and cheaper nightly rates for rooms it makes a good fit for travelers who don't need to be right in the center of the action. We have identified nine major factors, including both the good and the not so good that could help you decide if the area is right for you.
1Accommodation rates are cheaper, but the location is still on the water and close to town
If you are willing to walk a little bit to get to and from important places, Frankton Road’s hotel options will cost less than alternatives located directly in the center of the nearby tourist areas. Although the walk can be somewhat cold in the winter months, the savings or extra amenities you get for your money might be worth it! The lake views are no less stunning than the alternatives and some prefer the quieter surroundings this area offers.
2It’s on the bus route to The Remarkables ski field and the Queenstown Airport
If you will not be renting a car while in Queenstown, the bus will be important for airport transfers and ski field access. Bus stops in this area give you access to routes that go directly to and from the Queenstown Airport and The Remarkables ski field (but not Coronet Peak). Neighborhoods such as Queenstown Hill, Fernhill and North Queenstown (Gorge Rd) do not have bus stops on these direct routes. Taxi service to these destinations can be quite expensive.
3Traveling on the road is enjoyable in a car, but not so great on foot
Frankton Road has a fast and smooth road which is easy to drive on and provides a variety of visual interest. It borders the water and provides access to stunning views of different parts of Lake Wakatipu. A short distance outside of town it turns a corner to open up more views of the lake, additional sections of The Remarkables mountain range and other dramatic terrain on the water’s edge.
On foot, however, the experience is less pleasing. Although the views are still quite nice from the sidewalk, the compressed spaces, loud and unpleasant sounds, exhaust odor and endless cars and trucks whizzing by can make the experience distracting and off-putting. In addition, navigating the road can be confusing the first time around due to sidewalks that change width and randomly require one to cross over the road.
4Queenstown is close by
Some sections of the area are within walking distance to central Queenstown and the sidewalks are paved and lead straight to town. Note that Frankton Road is long and only some lodging options are close enough to walk into town. The only time that walking is not recommended is when snow is on the ground. Since snow is quite rare in town, lack of appropriate snow removal on the sidewalks can sometimes be a problem. If it does snow, chances are high that the sidewalks that lead back to the hotels could become icy and difficult to navigate.
If driving, the CBD is a quick and smooth journey a few minutes down the road. Queenstown offers retail stores, bars and restaurants and pretty much everything one could need. However, prices are higher in town and so budget travelers looking for large grocery or other less expensive stores will have to walk a bit longer or even take a bus from Frankton Road.
5It’s not the social hub of the area
In this part of town, most people that are outdoors are traveling between places by foot or vehicle. Most buildings are very close together, not much outdoor space has been dedicated to public use and the beaches are small. The largest social gatherings outdoors are sometimes the groups of people waiting at the bus stop! However, many people do enjoy leisurely walks and bike rides on Frankton Trail. The most social areas on Frankton Road are inside of the restaurant or bar areas at some of the larger hotels. Otherwise, downtown Queenstown is very lively and there are countless options for social activities.
6The atmosphere is relaxing, unobtrusive and disarming
Accommodation on Frankton Road is not far outside of central Queenstown, but it provides a significantly different atmosphere that feels less aggressive and busy. The place has a very relaxing effect with an unobtrusive and disarming atmosphere. The neighborhood is small and with a large hill at your back when overlooking the water, there is the sensation of being in a hidden and private space that is still open and expansive.
Down by the water on the Frankton Trail, the air is clear and crisp. The soft dirt trail encourages you to walk slowly, forget about the time and enjoy the visual and tactile variety of the trees, plants and shrubs that enclose the space around you. As clusters of houses and a steep hill sit above the trail, the sounds are all but muted from the busy road above. The result is a series of lengthy quiet spaces that overlook the water through the gaps in the tree line that borders the walkway. The clusters of trees that border the trail create a sense of seclusion from the rest of the developed areas nearby and the trail’s distance from the downtown district keeps the crowds away.
Although the spaces and buildings in this area are small and private, the sensory experience is anything but limited. In fact, this actually encourages one to enjoy the much larger space over the adjacent water and the spaces therefore feel expansive and large rather than constricted or small. This noticeable contrast is distracting but interesting as it leads one to pay more attention to the beautiful water and mountain scenery.
The large space over the water can be experienced in the widest sense from the zone above Frankton Road. With a higher vertical viewpoint, the view includes the entire The Remarkables mountain range, Fernhill and the far edges of the Lake Wakatipu. Lodging in this area will give you some of the most impressive views in the area, but you might need to have a car or be willing to hike a few steep staircases to reach your hotel.
Not all parts of Frankton Road have a calming atmosphere, however, with case in point being accommodation located directly adjacent to the main road. If you want the most relaxing atmosphere, avoid booking a room with glass windows or doors overlooking this thoroughfare. If you do book a room near the road then keeping all windows and doors shut will drown out a significant portion of the noise and traffic is less busy at night. We recommend that if you are staying here in the summer and want to keep doors or windows open, look elsewhere on the road or get a room that is somewhat far from the road.
7It’s sunny only in the morning
The mountains that provide a sense of privacy along Frankton Road also bring an early shade and cool to the neighborhood. Although most Queenstown accommodation options will experience this early cooling (apart from those in Kelvin Heights and parts of Frankton), the areas directly near and below Frankton Road will get the shade a little bit earlier than the rest because the hill above the road is quite steep. When planning a walk around the Frankton Road area or Frankton Trail, the early hours will provide the best opportunity for sunlight.
8The Frankton Trail is very close
One of the longest waterfront walks around the area, this trail is easily accessible from most accommodation in the area. The trail takes you all the way to Queenstown on one side and out to the city of Frankton on the other side while providing beautiful views and atmosphere along the way. It is open to foot and bicycle traffic.
9Partygoers will appreciate the late night bus service
Not offered to other areas such as Queenstown Hill and Fernhill, the late bus offers a cheaper alternative to late night taxi service. It often runs Thursday through Saturday from around midnight to 4am with pickup on the hour.
We recommend this zone for travelers that want a balance between convenience, price and relaxation. Budget-minded travelers can definitely find cheaper and those looking to be at the center of it all should look closer in to town. However, we find this area to be an interesting balance between the two.