Queenstown is a resort town situated in the interior of the South Island of New Zealand. It was built around the Frankton Arm inlet of Lake Wakatipu. Consequently, a large portion of the town is on the waterfront. The Southern Alps and the aptly named Remarkables form a spectacularly scenic backdrop to the town which is known as the Adventure Capital of the World. Each season has its own attractions. Award winning wines are grown in the region and there is a thriving restaurant and hospitality industry. The area has an agricultural history with a brief gold rush recorded in the late 19th century.
1.Bob’s Peak and Skyline Gondola
The Gondola ride up to Bob's Peak is the steepest cable car ride in the southern hemisphere. The climb is to 450m above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, to 220 degree views of the mountains and the town and lake below. At the top, those keen on adventure can take a Luge ride. For those wishing to warm up there is mulled wine and hot chocolate. Comfort food is available in the form of lasagne or a buffet dinner at the Stratosfare Restaurant and Bar, followed by stargazing. The cable operates from 9 am to 9 pm, year round. Private and corporate group packages are available.
Brecon Street, PO BOX 17, Queenstown, New Zealand Phone: +64-34-41-01-01
The Remarkables are a range of mountains just 45 minutes from Queenstown. There are two options for those wishing to spend time high in the mountains. The chairlift for the sightseeing option operates from 12 noon to 14:30. The chairlifts for the more active pursuits head in another direction, between 9 am and 4 pm, where visitors can ski or snowboard. For beginners there is a demarcated practice area, equipment for hire and instructors who give individual and group lessons. The children's club caters for ages 5-17. The Snow Shop sells winter clothing and the restaurant, café and bar offer refreshments.
© Blue Planet Studio/stock.adobe.com
The Gardens are near the center of the city, on the shore of Lake Wakatipu. There is much to see and do in the gardens and it is popular with locals and tourists. Statues, benches, rose gardens and water features make a walk in the park a pleasant outing. For those feeling active, there are tennis courts, a bowling green, skating park, disc golf and cycling tracks. Close by there is an ice rink which caters for many sports. Two memorials are situated in the park. Scott's Antarctic endeavors and the first settlers are commemorated. Picnic facilities and a restaurant are options for the hungry and thirsty.
The Nevis River runs through a broad valley between two high mountain ranges, the Remarkables and the Hector Mountains. It was first used by the Maori people as a trail. Then early settlers farmed the remote area. Everything changed in 1862 when gold was discovered and gold diggers flooded in. Today, only the family stationed at Ben Nevis lives in the area. When it is not snowbound, the valley is navigable by trail bikes and 4 wheel drive vehicles. The area is suitable for hiking, fly fishing for trout, picnicking and exploring the remains of the buildings from the gold rush era.
5.Gibbston Valley - Winery
© Gibbston Valley - Winery
Alan Brady planted the first vines in the Gibbston Valley in the early 1980s. At 45 degrees south, the climate is risky for vines. Through trial and error, a commercial vineyard and later commercial vintage wines were produced. The winery is one of the top three producers in the world for Pinot Noir and the first ever non-French entrant to win the prestigious Gold Medal Trophy for Pinot Noir / Burgundy, at the London International Wine Challenge. They have also had success with Pinot Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay wines. The Valley has become a tourist destination, offering gourmet dining, summer music concerts and biking tours.
1820 State Highway 6, Queenstown, 9371, Phone: +64-0-34-42-69-10
© Martin Valigursky/stock.adobe.com
New Zealand's first commercial ski field can be found at Coronet Peak, just ten minutes from Queenstown. All categories of skiers have been catered for. There are packages for day trippers, sightseers, families and first-timers. Instruction is available in skiing and snowboarding. The slightly less adventurous can make use of the snow sleds. All equipment is for hire. Skiwiland School builds confidence in young children from three months to five years. The Kea Club is aimed at 5-17 year olds. A restaurant, café and ice bars provide sustenance. Night skis are permitted on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 4-9 pm.
Coronet Peak Ski Area, Queenstown 9371, Phone: +64-34-42-46-20
© Klanarong Chitmung/stock.adobe.com
Arrowtown is a former gold rush village. The Heritage Main Street has shops with names like Gold Nugget, Golden Fleece and the Jade and Opal Factory. For arts and culture enthusiasts, there are art galleries and the Lakes District Museum to visit. Restaurants abound, offering French, Italian, Indian and Thai food, as well as local cuisine and wines. Outside the village, the terrain opens up and affords opportunities for trail running, hiking and mountain biking. There is so much to see and do that a stay over is warranted in one of the hotels, cottages, apartments or bed and breakfast establishments.
8.Glenorchy Information Center
© Rafael Ben-Ari/stock.adobe.com
The 45 minute drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy, along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, is feted as the most scenic in New Zealand and among the top 10 in the world. Glenorchy offers the best of lakeland and mountain terrain in rural New Zealand. The Information Center is the hub, also being the store, hotel and backpack retreat. Sightseeing and photography are the least strenuous activities. On land, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, skiing, climbing and golf. On the water, visitors can swim, fish and take a boat or kayak out. Even aerial pursuits in the form of paragliding are available.
9.Mt Crichton Loop Track
The turnoff to the Mt Crichton Loop Track is 12 km from Queenstown, along the scenic road to Glenorchy. The walk will take between 2-4 hours, along the Twelve Mile Creek, through natural bushland, red beech and mountain beech trees. It is easy going along the contours, and is suitable for children. Dogs are permitted on a leash. Along the way, hikers will encounter the river, a waterfall, historic huts and a tunnel. Lake Dispute can be seen clearly and there are glimpses of Lake Wakatipu. Caution needs to be exercised as there are steep drop-offs and mine shafts along the way.
50 Stanley Street, Queenstown, 9300, Phone: +64-34-42-79-35
, Michigan beaches
© Stephane Pothin/stock.adobe.com
In a region where visitors are spoiled for choice, Lake Wanaka offers yet another breathtaking tourist destination. Situated close to Mt Aspiring National Park, the area is about an hour's drive from Queenstown. The town of Wanaka has shops, galleries, restaurants and cafés. All year round, hiking and skiing is possible in the mountains. Astrophotography is a draw card because of the clear night skies. In addition, activities have been organized for each season of the year. There are park runs, beer festivals, and sporting and aviation events. For those in the tourism industry, a travel fair and sustainability summit are held annually.
Lake Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand, 9305, Phone: +64-34-43-15-74
11.Mount Aspiring National Park
This park is the third largest in New Zealand, being more than 350000 ha. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty comprising river valleys, high mountains and remote wilderness areas. It was one of the film locations in the The Lord of the Rings. Much of the landscape was formed by glaciers, some of which are still visible. Mountain huts, sleeping between four and forty-eight people, are dotted across the area. Fishing and hunting of red deer and chamois are allowed in the park. Visitors need to inform the authorities of their routes and need to be on the alert for avalanches in winter.
Ardmore Street, Wanaka 9305, Phone: +64-34-43-76-60
© The Bunker
The Bunker is a small, intimate restaurant with the atmosphere of a private club. The European and Kiwi cuisine includes hare, boar, seafood and vegetarian options on an a la carte menu. For groups between 12 and 28 diners, there are a number of multi-course set menus to choose from. Upstairs, a one-bedroom apartment has been converted into a cocktail bar. Wines, beers and spirits are also on offer. Cocktail parties for up to 100 people can be accommodated upstairs. There are two canape menu options.
14 Cow Lane, Queenstown, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-41-80-30
13.No. 5 Church Lane
© No. 5 Church Lane
This restaurant is in the Spire Hotel, one of the Imperium Collection of luxury boutique hotels. It is open from 7:30 am till late. Lunch and dinner menus offer Northern Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, as well as regional foods from the Otago district. Menus include mezze platters for sharing, with or without wine pairing. Ingredients are foraged and sourced locally. Much thought has gone into the vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes. The restaurant is renowned for its signature cocktails, local artisan beers and extensive wine list. Group bookings, private functions and catering are part of the service offered at No. 5 Church Lane.
3-5 Church Lane, Queenstown 9438, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-50-21-66
© Eichardt's Bar
When William Gilbert Rees' farm on the shores of Lake Wakatipu was declared a goldfield, he turned part of the property into a hotel. The building which now house Eichardt's Private Hotel, bar and restaurant, was built in the 1860s and has been declared a Category 2 Historic Place. The accommodation offers lakefront apartments and a penthouse suite. The Grille restaurant also overlooks the lake and is open from 07:30 to 11 am for breakfast, and from 12 noon till late for other meals. The bar offers Champagne Bollinger by the glass, in a stylish lounge setting.
Marine Parade, Queenstown, 9348, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-41-04-50
Rata is co-owned by Mchelin starred chef and Master Chef judge, Josh Emmett, and restaurateur, Fleur Caulton. It is part of the Go To Collection hospitality group. The pair celebrate the unique flavors of Southern New Zealand in their menu items. The area is rich in meat production and the menu reflects this with goat, lamb, beef and ox-tongue included. Fresh water fish such as salmon features along with seafood and vegetarian dishes. The cuisine lends itself to slow cooking and other processes, such as fermenting, preserving and dehydrating. The wine list showcases the award winning local wines.
Te Nuku, 43 Ballarat St, Queenstown, 9348, Phone: +64-34-42-93-93
16.Ivy and Lola's Kitchen and Bar
© Ivy and Lola's Kitchen and Bar
The restaurant is named after the owner's two daughters and overlooks Streamer's Wharf and Queenstown's waterfront. The focus is on hearty meals, made from the freshest and finest seasonal ingredients, sourced locally. Local wines and craft beers, coffee and a delightful range of desserts are also on offer. There are daily brunch and lunch specials and earlybird discounts. The restaurant collaborates with the local winery for a brunch, wine tasting and cellar tour. Dining is outside in the sun or inside the Art Deco dining room. Group menus are available for up to 48 guests inside and 40 outside.
Steamer Wharf, 88 Beach Street, Queenstown, Phone: +64-34-41-85-72
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© Martin Lee/stock.adobe.com
Fergburger has an off-beat business strategy. It started in 2001 as a hole-in-the-wall burger joint in a garage, borne out of the owner's empathy for late night drinkers who could not find food to eat. It was situated in an obscure location and difficult to find. News had to spread by word of mouth and the outlet soon achieved cult status. Menu items have names like Southern Swine, Bullseye and Codfather. Vegetarian options include Ferglafel and the Holier Than Thou tofu option. The garage became derelict so Fergburger had to move. They have remained loyal to their core customer base and are open 21 hours a day, from 8 am to 5 am.
42 Shotover St, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand, Phone: +64-34-41-12-32
© Taco Medic
Queenstown's craft Taqueria serves Mexican food made with the finest ingredients from New Zealand's land and sea. The masa corn for the tortillas, tacos and nachos, is sourced from Mexico. They are all gluten free. A taco press was also imported for authenticity. Tacos have names like Stockman. Fisherman, Bushman and Producer, which is a vegetarian option. Prices are standard for all tacos and orders can be placed for one, two and three. Baskets, chip 'n dip and nacho plates are also available. Salsa, beer and tequila add to the ambiance. The restaurant is open 7 days a week, from 11 am to 10 pm.
Searle Lane, Queenstown, 9300, Phone: +64-34-42-81-74
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19.The Cow - Pizza and Spaghetti House
© The Cow – Pizza and Spaghetti House
The Cow was established in 1977 and is the oldest restaurant in Queenstown The menu is considered to be a winning formula and has not been changed since day one. The pizzas are hand rolled and the pasta dishes are made fresh, from scratch, on a daily basis. The venue was a barn for dairy cows and maintains the same rustic ambiance it had at the beginning. The Cow was legendary for skiing after parties. The current owners participated in those and thought that a similar restaurant would work well in Wanaka, a skiing destination.
Cow Lane, Queenstown 9300, Phone: +64-34-42-85-88
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20.Madam Woo - Chinese Restaurant
© Madam Woo – Chinese Restaurant
The Madam Woo restaurant concept was devised by Josh Emmett, a Michelin starred chef and judge of Master Chef, and restaurateur, Fleur Coulton. The cuisine is based on Malaysian street food. Four outlets have been opened since 2013, in Queenstown, Auckland, Christchurch and Hamilton. The menu items are rich with spices from the region, as well as soy, honey and peanut flavors. The extensive drinks menu includes a Singapore Sling and sake. The dessert menu is characterized by exotic fruits and flavors. Take-outs are available in date night, family feast and party pack sizes.
5 The Mall, Lower Ballarat Street, Queenstown, Phone: +64-34-42-92-00
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There are two Botswana Butchery restaurants, one in Auckland and one in Queenstown. The décor is upmarket, ranch style with five fireplaces, leather couches, velvet and linen. The food is geared towards meat eaters who also like poultry, fish and game, accompanied by rich sauces. The restaurants are open from 12 noon till late, with lunch and dinner menus. Various Wagyu steak cuts, with a marble count of 5, are highlights. There are also the intriguing Botswana Peking Duck and home-grown New Zealand lamb on offer. The dessert menu lists sweet treats, wines, ports, brandies and cocktails. A Botswana Butchery cookbook can be purchased.
Archers Cottage, 17 Marine Parade, Queenstown, Phone: +64-34-42-69-94
21 Best Things to Do in Queenstown, New Zealand
- Bob’s Peak and Skyline Gondola, Photo: Radoslav/stock.adobe.com
- The Remarkables, Photo: Dajahof/stock.adobe.com
- Queenstown Gardens, Photo: Blue Planet Studio/stock.adobe.com
- Nevis Valley, Photo: Janelle/stock.adobe.com
- Gibbston Valley - Winery, Photo: Gibbston Valley - Winery
- Coronet Peak, Photo: Martin Valigursky/stock.adobe.com
- Arrowtown, Photo: Klanarong Chitmung/stock.adobe.com
- Glenorchy Information Center, Photo: Rafael Ben-Ari/stock.adobe.com
- Mt Crichton Loop Track, Photo: lukasgerber/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Wanaka, Photo: Stephane Pothin/stock.adobe.com
- Mount Aspiring National Park, Photo: leelakajonkij/stock.adobe.com
- The Bunker, Photo: The Bunker
- No. 5 Church Lane, Photo: No. 5 Church Lane
- Eichardt's Bar, Photo: Eichardt's Bar
- Rata, Photo: Rata
- Ivy and Lola's Kitchen and Bar, Photo: Ivy and Lola's Kitchen and Bar
- Fergburger, Photo: Martin Lee/stock.adobe.com
- Taco Medic, Photo: Taco Medic
- The Cow - Pizza and Spaghetti House, Photo: The Cow – Pizza and Spaghetti House
- Madam Woo - Chinese Restaurant, Photo: Madam Woo – Chinese Restaurant
- Botswana Butchery, Photo: guruXOX/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: gracethang/stock.adobe.com