Queenstown looks to expand to cope with tourist levels

Queenstown is the fastest growing residential area in the country and visitor numbers are at record levels.

But as it continues to grow in popularity, so does the pressure on accommodation and services.

Mayor Jim Boult says the resort town needs to keep its infrastructure development ahead of the growth curve.

With downtown running out of room, much of the growth is coming from previously empty paddocks near the airport.

Bayley's Queenstown director Stacy Coburn has been selling real estate in Queenstown for 18 years, and says things have changed quickly.

"I think all of us as locals have been quite surprised how quickly there's been a distinct shift away from Queenstown CBD out to the Frankton Flats areas."

New retail centres are busy, and developments like the 225 townhouse Remarkables Residences are in hot demand.

"Given the finite industrial and commercial land available, this is probably really going to the new hub for Queenstown," Ms Coburn says.

The two-lane Kawarau Falls bridge, aimed at reducing traffic congestion, is taking shape.

There's also a lot of development at Remarkables Park, including the brand new Wakatipu High School, a new hotel set to open in May, and two more about to start construction.

Remarkables Park CEO Alastair Porter says, "There'll be an enormous amount of tourism here at Remarkables Park, because of the conference centre, gondola, hotels, a lot of retail shopping on this side of the airport."

Queenstown Airport saw a record 2 million passengers passing through last year.

Queenstown Airport commercial general manager Olivia Pierre says, "As with any infrastructure when you've got that type of growth it creates some challenges and some opportunities as well."

Queenstown's Mayor is calling for the tourists to pay their way.

"We've got 16,000 ratepayers," Mr Boult says. "Last year we have 5.5 million visitor nights in the town. The infrastructure costs for that just does not come out of 16,000 ratepayers. I'm a strong proponent of a visitor levy."

It's an idea he plans to discuss with the new Government when he sits down with key ministers next month.