A brief history of Kingston
Before the coming of European settlers, there was a Maori village near present day Kingston, called Te Kere Haka
and this Maori connection is relfected in the name of the lake-side reserve in Kingston: Te Kere Haka Reserve. Kingston was founded in the 1860s as a service centre for the gold mining industry, with gold found around Arrowtown arriving by boat in Kingston, to be transported to Dunedin. For many years, it was a thriving working town with hotels, shops and bars. Boats sailed to/from Queenstown to Kingston, and the railway developed to shift goods and people to Invercargill and Dunedin. During the 1930s, the road between Kingston and Queenstown (now SH6) was built using Depression labour. This remained unsealed so trade was still carried out using boats and the railway. With the sealing of the road in the 1960s, goods and people could move easily on the road so demand for boats and the railway fell. In recent years, the Kingston Flyer steam train has become a tourist attraction and the SS Earnslaw (which was built in Kingston) visits occasionally. In the 1980s, the one room school house closed and became the library.
With the demise of gold mining, the population of Kingston fell during the early to mid-20th centruy, though the railway provided work for many years. After WW2, people bought the old houses for holidays, or built 'cribs' (the South Island word for holiday house). It became a place for holiday makers, mainly from Southland and it is still the place in the Southern Lakes area where kiwis come for their holidays.