Queenstown Destination Guide
In the heart of New Zealand's South Island, on the lightning bolt-shaped Lake Wakatipu, is Queenstown. The 1860s gold rush first delivered prosperity here and these days it gets visitors' adrenalin running for another reason: adventure tourism. With peaks to scale, ski and snowboard; and waterways to paddle and jet boat, this is an outdoor-lover's holiday dream. Bungy jumping, canyon swinging, whitewater rafting and river surfing are also on offer. If you're after something more sedate, Queenstown delivers that too – there are more than 75 wineries in the region and several day spas.
There's a host of things to do in Queenstown. Its natural beauty can be enjoyed year round, as can many of its adventure sports. If you'd like to ski or snowboard, book a flight to Queenstown to between mid-June and early October. Hit the powder on the 5 international standard areas. Get high with a chopper tour, sky dive, bungy jump, hang glide or paraglide. Get wet with a jet boat ride, white water rafting or river surf. Get dirty with an off-road adventure. For a stunning view of the area, take the Skyline gondola 450 metres up to Bob's Peak – there's a bar, restaurant and cafe at the top – then you can luge back down the mountain!
Eat and Drink
Queenstown dishes up prime fare from award-winning chefs through to the humble burger/fish and chips. International cuisine is available to complement fresh, local produce too. Whether you tuck into South Island salmon, roast New Zealand lamb or just have a drink at the bar, the view from the Skyline is unrivalled in Queenstown restaurants. Atop Bob's Peak, and with tiered seating, mountain and lake views are guaranteed from every table. Back on the ground, for a taste of history in a welcoming, cosy spot, have a drink at Eichardt's Bar (built 1867) and dinner at Gantley's Historic Restaurant (built 1863). Best to make a reservation for dinner.
Given the popularity of adventure tourism here, there's no shortage of outdoor outfitters, (So don't worry if you've forgotten to pack a particular outdoorsy item). You'll also find Kiwi-grown wool and sheepskin clothing here and greenstone (pounamu) jewellery is also popular. Queenstown shopping is not really for the bargain hunter but who could want to shop with such an exquisite environment on the doorstep? Of course, if you're in self-contained accommodation you'll have no problem stocking the fridge and the cupboards during your stay – particularly if you visit the Saturday farmers' market – just don't stay inside too long!
Queenstown like a Local
Most restaurant kitchens will close around 9pm so it's worth making an inquiry if you're likely to dine later. This doesn't mean the nightlife stops early too though – quite the opposite. Queenstown enjoys an apres-ski atmosphere year round and it's particularly spirited during its 2 major annual festivals: Summerdaze (end of December–end January) and Winter Festival (June). If you're coming to town during these peak times, make sure you book accommodation in advance.