I recently travelled to New Zealand and explored the South Island for a week. Of all the gorgeous, picturesque places we visited, Queenstown was a standout.
This small city really is a wino’s dream and a snowboarders slice of heaven. Surrounded by the heights of the Remarkables and the gorgeous blue, Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown has it all.
It’s a place for the thrill seeking traveller to holiday, ski/snowboard, party and bungy jump. It’s also a place for the relaxed traveller to hike, drink in the views, experience fine dining and hop from winery to winery.
Here are a bunch of must-do, must-eat and must-see things to do:
BUNGY JUMP OR BUNGY SWING
Let the thrill seeker inside of you loose with the Nevis Bunjy or Swing. You have to book in to get a spot so make sure you’re on to this quick, or even before you arrive to NZ. You’ll be transported by bus to the top of a very steep and windy mountain, before being strapped up (and teased if you chicken out)… This is the biggest bungy you can do, so if you’re not an all or nothing person, perhaps try the smaller few around the place as a warm up, or just instead. The swing you can do as a couple, cute!
VISIT ALL THE WINERIES
The Otago region in which Queenstown is situated is known for its Pinot Noir so it would be rude not to buy a whole bottle and drink it. Jump on a tour bus, or take yourself by car to these standout spots – Gibbston Valley Wines, Amisfield Bistro & Cellar Door and Kinross Cottages – here they also make their own glorius cheeeeese. So grab a bottle, and sit down for a cheese platter custom made by you.
GO ON A HELICOPTER RIDE
If you’re a fan if seeing it all in one hit, and from a birds eye view, a heli ride is the way to go. There are heaps of different routes you can book and the prices are actually pretty reasonable for everything you get.
RIDE IN A GONDOLA
Take the gondola up to the luge and eat at the buffet restaurant, Stratosfare. I would recommend going for dinner so that you can experience the sunset whilst at the highest point. It’s an absolutely breathtaking view and a bit romantic too.
I’d heard allll about this burger joint long before I finally made it to NZ. There was the 45-minute wait that I’d been warned out, but the burger 110% percent lived up to its greatness and quickly helped us forget about how hangry we now were. I really stepped out of my comfort zone and devoured the original, The Fergburger – Prime NZ beef, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli, cheese and tomato relish. Delicious.
This little hidden café we discovered while walking through a laneway in the city so decided to stop for breakfast. It had a small sunny area outside but was super busy so we pulled up some chairs at the bar inside. It was a really cool and relaxed vibe, and looking around at the décor we soon realised it used to be an old post office.
CARIBE LATIN KITCHEN
A hole in the wall Mexican and Latin American eatery. After a big day it was nice to settle in to a cosy corner and eat some delicious comfort food.
Michelin star chef, all the way from LA, Josh Emett owns and runs Rata Dining – a modern NZ restaurant serving the best seasonal produce from around the country. I absolutely loved the stone and wood fit-out with a lush greenery décor.
Chinese/Malaysian amazing-ness. You might have been too, or heard of this restaurant because there is also one in Sydney and Melbourne. Very much loved for it’s modern and classy spin on traditional dishes.
You can see them from the ground, but even if you’re not skiing or snowboarding, make sure you take a trip up and go for a big walk. Don’t forget your camera for some absolutely stunning pictures. I do believe though, that not even a really great camera can truly capture what your eyes can see here. If you go in autumn like I did, there won’t be any snow, but it’s still gorgeous.
Take a day trip to Milford Sound and explore the rainforest and waterfalls either by boat tour or kayaks. Home to penguins, dolphins and rare black coral – there’s not just an absolutely breathtaking view to see here.
Just a hop, skip and a jump (translation: about a 10 minute drive) outside Queenstown, this old gold mining town is known for some fantastic hidden foodie and shopping gems. Also a great place to escape the chaos if you did decide to visit Queenstown during the snow season.
Pretty much any hotel, motel or back packers in Queenstown is close to everything you need. If you don’t have a car, try stay right in the city close to shops, restaurants and the bus for snow goers to be transferred.
If you can be a bit more flexible because of said car to drive you around, stay somewhere up in the mountains. The views from bed will have you feeling all ‘on top of the world’.
Again, depending on what kind of traveller you are there are bars, shopping, day spas and more really close (if not at your accommodation), so you’ll be set.