My massive love affair with Queenstown began a couple of years back and it shows no signs of breaking up anytime soon. This beautiful gem in New Zealand’s crown, aptly named “fit for the Queen,” is a favorite among tourists and locals alike.
Anyone traveling to New Zealand, either for work or study, have Queenstown at the top of their itinerary and rightly so! Hailed as the ultimate outdoor adventure capital of New Zealand and the world, this resort town offers a true taste of this beautiful country. Having visited this place twice, once on my honeymoon and another time with family, I can say that I know the ropes of having plenty of fun in Queenstown without burning a hole in my wallet.
Best Time To Visit
Although it’s a great place to visit all year round, spring and early summer (October-December) is the ideal time to visit Queenstown. It’s the period when barren tree branches give way to gorgeous spring blooms in pink and white hues and the whole town looks pretty as a picture.
How To Get There
To come into Queenstown, one can take one of the many flights available from Australia or other parts of New Zealand. The airplane ride give you a chance to get a bird’s eye view of the majestic Remarkable Mountain Ranges surrounding Lake Wakatipu as the sun shines on the sparkling blue waters on a clear day. And that, my friends, is a sight to behold.
However, in my humble opinion, the best way to enjoy this modernistic little town is to drive on the country roads that are fenced by lush green hills as far the eye can see. You will be sure to find countless sheep and cows grazing lazily on the fields, endemic to New Zealand country life.
What To Do
So once you reach your destination, the first thing to do is to take a gentle stroll along Lake Wakatipu just to recover from either a tiring flight or a long drive. It’s probably the best way to relax those aching muscles and take in the spectacular views of the gardens that are just a 5 minute walk along the beach. The beach itself is home to the friendly sea gulls and ducks that add to the beauty of the place.
It’s always great to get out onto the lake and this can be done by taking one of the many cruises available near Lake Wakatipu. The journey gives ample amount of time to take in the break-taking views and allows you to feel the wind beating on your face if you go up on to the deck. Another option is to hire a kayak on a good tide day and go off exploring the lake on your own. Nothing beats the thrill of maneuvering your kayak and you can revel in the activity with your partner (like I did) or on your own.
Skyline Gondola and Luge Rides
To kick off an adventure-packed day, a suggestion would be to take a ride on the Skyline gondola up to Bob’s Peak. At the Skyline complex at the top of the hill, there is a world-class restaurant that offers a plethora of delicious eatables and also allows you to catch a panoramic view of the lake and the entire town from the balcony on a beautiful sunny day. They also have a buffet dinner which I haven’t tried.
Moreover, you can indulge in the luge rides which is basically a downhill ride on two raceways (beginner and advanced level) on small gravity-driven carts. This activity is perfect for the whole family. There is also a gift shop on the premises where you can buy souvenirs for friends and family.
Adventure Awaits You
For the adrenaline junkies, there are a number of different activities available. From bungee jumping, zip lining, skiing, hot air ballooning to jet boat rides, sky diving, paragliding, parasailing and river rafting, there is something for every palate. I personally did the zip lining which was tremendous amount of fun. The Ziptrek Ecotours have a series of zip-lines that take you from treetop to treetop and the accompanying commentary about Queenstown is a bonus!
Romance in Queenstown
For die-hard romantics or those coming into the town for their honeymoon, Onsen Hot Pools is a wonderful activity to check out. After a tiring day of activities in Queenstown, these Japanese style hot pools are perfect to have a relaxing time and are particularly great for couples who want to spend some quality time alone. Book in the afternoon to have the amazing views of Shotover River or late at night to gaze at the starry night sky through the retractable window.
For some easy window shopping and coffee, you can hit up the local mall in main downtown which is well worth exploring. There are many great cafes and bistros lined along the bustling streets. Modern day Queenstown has an exciting night life. From pubs and clubs to bars and restaurants, this town has it all. One can dance along to the live music going on every night in some of the places or if you are looking for a more cozy night you can sit outside a restaurant and simply watch the world go by.
Another way to get yourself scared in this fun-packed mountain paradise is to pay a visit to the Fear Factory, located in main downtown. You have to ask yourself if you are brave enough to walk the pitch dark hallways of New Zealand’s Scariest Haunted House following a trail of tiny red lights and come through the other end without screaming “chicken.” This experience is a must-do for people who are fans of horror movies or those who simply want to be chilled to the bone! Be warned though, this seemingly harmless little horror house has more than 9000 names on its Chicken list.
Where to Eat
Of course, food is an essential part of any trip (especially for foodies like me) and Q-town doesn’t disappoint in this department. For breakfast or brunch, Vudu Café is an excellent option. My husband and I visited this dainty little café for breakfast and were quite impressed by the great service and delicious food. The eggs benedict, French toast and chai latte in particular are one of the best in town. Make sure to go early to beat the crowds as this café is very popular with both tourists and locals.
Another quintessential must-do is to eat at Fergburger. It has become a vital part of the whole Queenstown experience and with names like “Southern Swine” and “Bun Laden” on the menu, you will have quite a chuckle as you bite into your mouth-watering meal. As for all those pizza lovers out there, you can relish in the New Zealand famous Hell Pizza which is a delight in itself.
I will have to admit, there are always so many things to do in Queenstown and so little time. A place that is full of life, you can make the most of your trip regardless of what budget you are on. Just remember to pack a camera and some comfy shoes!