Queenstown, New Zealand is the perfect holiday destination for those who appreciate the finer things in life but don’t want to pay a fortune to enjoy them. The secret comes down to when you visit. Most travellers flock to Queenstown in winter but this pretty town is even better during the summer months. The weather is warmer, accommodation cheaper and no roads are closed due to snow; not that you really need a car, as Queenstown is easy to explore on foot. So, whether you’re in town for adventure, romance or relaxation, summer is the perfect time to visit Queenstown.
Enjoy a ‘Taste of the South’ with a degustation dinner at The Bunker, a rustic dining spot with a menu featuring New Zealand game and other local specialties. Start with scallops plucked fresh from the Southern Ocean, following by West Coast pork belly on a bed of caramel carrot purée, juicy Bannockburn hare or Central Otago spring lamb served with baby spring vegetables and wild thyme jus. Kiwi fruit pavlova with strawberries, mascarpone and sorbet made with berries from nearby Cromwell for dessert is a must. Fergburger is a Queenstown icon that is great for an affordable bite, provided you’re prepared to join the queue. If you’re after a date night restaurant, head to the True South Dining Room at The Rees Hotel, where the only things rivalling the food are the sublime mountain views and a dangerously good wine list.
If you visit Queenstown in summer you’ve got the choice of staying in the heart of town or enjoying a leisurely stroll along Lake Wakatipu on the way to or from your accommodation. Either way, there are plenty of choices to suit every taste and budget. Peppers Beacon Queenstown has a dress circle location in the heart of town and a choice of accommodation ranging from hotel rooms to four-bedroom penthouses. The Rees Hotel, a luxury hotel located just out of town on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, offers a similar choice of accommodation and is home to a sophisticated wine lounge and one of Queenstown’s best restaurants. It is a picturesque 30-minute walk into town or you can take the complimentary shuttle bus. If your love of travel is larger than your budget, the upmarket backpackers’ Haka Lodge welcomes travellers of all ages. While you might want to skip the dorms, the cheap and cheerful private rooms offer great value, if you don’t mind sharing a bathroom.
Immerse yourself in Queenstown’s fascinating history with a visit to the quaint mining towns of Arrowtown or Clyde, or celebrate the region’s farming roots with a laconic tour of Walter Peak High Country Farm. A cruise on TSS Earnslaw, a coal-fired vintage steamship that’s 100 years old, offers a charming way to experience the beauty of Lake Wakatipu and the farm in the one picturesque trip. You can even stay for a barbeque lunch.
If you’re after a racier adventure, jump onboard the Shotover Jet for a thrilling jetboat ride through Shotover Canyon. Hang on tight as your boat zooms between high canyon walls, cha-chas across the water and spins 360 degrees in the middle of the Shotover River. You don’t need to be fit or nimble to do this activity, just brave enough to get in the boat.
Touring the nearby Central Otago wineries is ideal for those who would like to enjoy the region’s spectacular scenery and its equally spectacular wines in the one trip. Hiring a car for the day is easy or you can opt for a day trip with Appellation Wine Tours and let someone else do the driving. Bring your camera as many of the wineries are as pretty as a picture.
Have you been to Queenstown? Can you recommend any sites, activities, restaurants or accommodation to our members?