Stunning! Is probably the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about this town. Oh! and the chance to experience some adrenaline packed adventure! In all honesty though, Queenstown really is that beautiful. Especially at twilight when the lights all twinkle against the Wakatipu lake. We visited Queenstown in Autumn and were able to enjoy autumnal scenery dotting the nearby mountain range. I can only imagine how beautiful The Remarkables mountain range would be in winter, covered by snow.
We stopped over in Queenstown for one night before flying out to Auckland. In fact, staying here was really an after thought as we didn’t want to get stuck missing our flight after our long drive back from Milford Sound. The drive back from Milford Sound shows you just how stunning this lakeside town actually is as the road hugs the lake shore. The lake is a lot more vast than it first appears and there are cruise companies that provide tours to explore the environment.
Queenstown is one of the more populous towns in the area with shops that cater for adventure gear, lots of bars and restaurants. It’s the big town that churns our holiday vibes, all day, every day. One thing to note though, is that it is expensive! It’s a very touristy place and hence the prices can be a lot more higher than other parts of the South Island. We were lucky enough to stay in the centre of town at a motel (we booked accomodation late and this was the best available at the time)! We were able to walk around everywhere from this location.
Things to do:
Queenstown Skyline gondola scenic lookout
The local mountain: Bob’s Peak, sits near the centre of town and provides a stunning view over the town, its lake and the surrounding mountain range. In the past the only way to get there was by hiking up the hill. Now, however you can take a gondola ride (cable car) up the mountain in minutes on the Queenstown Skyline. The Skyline is the steepest in the Southern Hemisphere and is worth a visit for the engineering feat in itself. Once up at the top, there isn’t much to do but savour the stunning view. We decided to get drinks at the restaurant to linger over the twilight vista a little longer.
The beautiful lake of Queenstown is the third largest in New Zealand and is 80km in length. The lake is a lightening bolt shape and fills a deep valley carved out by glaciers. The colour of the lake is a stunning turquoise blue resulting from minerals in the water. The lake is surrounded by mountain ranges and around every corner there is a new vista to discover. With all of this natural beauty, it’s hard to believe that this large inland lake is surrounded by a thriving township.
The lake is the centre of the township and has an important role to play in its local economy, it is a popular place for fishing, boating and hiking. The lake is a popular place for people to soak up the natural beauty, by traversing the surrounding botanic gardens, restaurants and cafes. We had some time to kill before our flight so ambled around the region near the botanic garden and came across many surprising nooks and sheltered coves to explore. In certain areas it is possible to feel like you are the only person there.
Queenstown is known as the adventure capital. There are a plethora of activities on offer including: bungee jumping; para sailing; river boat cruises. It is also possible to arrange tours from Queenstown to Milford Sound and even Franz Josef Glacier. The other activity Queenstown is famous for is its winter sports. The alps are right on the doorstep and it’s possible to rent an out of the way farm stay that has easy access to the alpine fields.
When anyone thinks of Queenstown, the third thing that comes to mind is fergburger. The burger restaurant that has placed Queenstown gastronomy on the map. Who would have thought that one of the best burgers in the country would be in a tourist friendly town in the south of the South Island?
We decided to weather the hype and try out their burgers. After extensive research online I came across a comment that said if you didn’t want to wait in the hour long queue then you could place a phone order and pick up your burger order in 15 -20 mins. Mind blown! We ordered the burgers from our motel and meandered our way to the restaurant and within minutes were clutching the hot burgers in our hands. The one problem to this extremely efficient method was finding a place to sit to eat our meal. We found a bench at a nearby grassed area. However if you venture out behind the main strip of shops you can sit by the lake instead.
If burgers aren’t your cup of tea though, then there are plenty of other restaurants catering to tourists to be found in Queenstown. Just do a quick google!
Mrs Ferg Gelateria
For dessert we ended up at Mrs Ferg Gelateria for ice cream! There was a wide variety of flavours including orange and basil, rum and raisin as well as traditional flavours like vanilla and chocolate. The team here take the same approach to ice cream as to their burgers. Fresh quality ingredients to make the best possible gelato.
The third Ferg outpost is Fergbaker. This place blew me away. You step inside the dark wood panelling and brass highlights have you thinking you have travelled back in time. Apparently this is the consistent theme across all the Ferg shops. All available surfaces inside the bakery are set up with a heady display of sweets and baked goods. We ordered croissants and coffee for breakfast the next day. The baked items definitely met expectations! Flaky and soft croissant that were perfect.
Queenstown also has a Patagonia Chocolates boutique. There is also one in Lake Wanaka, however we didn’t get a chance to visit there. Patagonia is not only famous for its selection of chocolates, it also has a range of ice creams and hot chocolate drinks for sale.
Queenstown is a vibrant town, well suited to travellers as it has a range of creature comforts like a plethora of restaurants, bars and shops. It also has lots of services and resources to help plan your South Island adventure.