Relaxation in the adventure capital of the Southern Hemisphere? You heard that right. Amongst the extremes of paragliding, skydiving, snow boarding, bungee or mountain biking a relaxing getaway is awaiting in Queenstown! Australian’s tend to pack up and head for the beach to relax and often overlook our brothers and sisters across the ditch, but New Zealand’s almost ridiculously perfect combination of accessibility, beautiful scenery and natural attractions. It’s almost foolish not to scoot across.
Queenstown, situated in the central South-West of the big island is just a short 3-hour flight from the Eastern capitals. More recently with newly added routes by Jetstar from the Gold Coast, Brisbanites are insured easy access to the alpine town and often under $500 return pp. Spring for the exit row seating to make your extended domestic flight a bit more comfortable!
So before you book your next beach holiday for some R&R, check out our 6 reasons why Queenstown is the place to be.
Eat and Drink
Nothing says relaxation more than putting on a couple of kilo’s. Queenstown is certainly the
place help you along the way. Hey! It’s cold there so you’ll need the extra warmth! Queenstown boasts enough pedigree to keep even the pickiest of foodies content; both in town and short scenic drives out to Central Otago, New Zealand’s Pinot heartland.
When in town, check out Botswana Butchery, one of QT’s finest and a local steak institution. Situated in an unassuming cottage right on the shore of Lake Wakatipu, it boasts possibly the best location in town. When the menu features tasty fare such as Botswana Peking duck pancakes, high country slow cooked lamb shoulder and duck fat roasted potatoes you just know it will be amazing. Ask for a local wine or beer recommendation to enjoy with your food.
If wine is something that interests you, head out to Central Otago for some of the regions and hemispheres top drops. Mount Difficulty Wines located in Bannockburn (around an hour out of Queenstown) is home to some of Central Otago’s oldest and most revered vineyards. The Cellar Door offers daily wine tasting and a seasonal menu. Enjoy your meal and Pinot on a sunny terrace where on a fine day, it is the perfect spot to take in the flavours of the region while enjoying the uniquely Central Otago views.
The Great Lake
The lake is a beautiful sprawling blue sapphire. It’s just so easy to chill when surrounded by water, whether you’re simply sitting on the wall at the bottom of town tucking into a coffee or Gelllato or enjoying one of the numerous cruise operators available in the harbour. It’s not all adventure sport. Sure, if the flyboarding or jet boating catches your eye the lake offers you plenty of opportunity to get a bit wet. But by far the best way to enjoy the lake is to take a stroll through Queenstown Gardens or around the kilometers of foot tracks located around the lake off Glenorchy-Queenstown Road between Lake Esplanade and Sunshine Bay.
Start in town and head south-west towards Glenorchy down Lake Esplanade, take the left off the first round-about onto Glenorchy-Queenstown Road and walk approximately 500m along the lake where you will find an access point to the track. It’s an easy and scenic stroll through the forest with beautiful views of the water and some of Queenstown’s most exclusive realestate.
Walk Amongst the Trees
If walking is your thing, there is plenty more on offer from town. Head north up the hill towards Queenstown Hill Recreation Reserve, with trail access off Belfast Terrace. The 4km return trip is a moderate climb but the views are worth the energy output.
The trail is lined with exotic trees (mostly introduced pine trees which give Queenstown it’s distinctly European Alpine feel) which make it quite different from the more typical walks in New Zealand. The summit offers delightful views towards Coronet Peak, Lake Hayes and the Crown Range. Evidence of glacial action can be seen on Cecil Peak in the form of deep “scratches” (striations) along the mountain slopes. Wear good shoes and take something warm to wear as it can get a wee bit chilly.
The trail splits into two and loops around to eventually join up again where you will reach the Basket of Dreams, a sculpture made of steel by artist Caroline Robinson.
Further afield is the famed Routeburn Track which can be accessed via Glenorchy (around 45 minutes by car or bus from Queenstown) where you’ll go deep in to Lord of the Rings territory. The track is usually completed by starting on the Queenstown side of the Southern Alps, at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu, and finishing on the Te Anau side, at the Divide, several kilometres from the Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound.
The 32+ km track is classified by The New Zealand Department of Conservation as a Great Walk and maintains four huts along the track: Routeburn Flats Hut, Routeburn Falls Hut, Mackenzie Hut, and Howden Hut. Many hikers will spend up to 3 days walking the whole track but it is also perfect for shorter day walks or for the fitness buffs, a quick 4-5 hour cross country run. Wear sturdy shoes, but much of the track is graded and can be tackled by people with all fitness levels.
An Onsen is a Japanese term for hot springs, though the term is often used to describe the bathing facilities and inns dotted around the hot springs. Although Queenstown’s version isn’t exactly attached to a hot spring. The Onsen Hot Pools located on Arthurs Point Road around 10 minutes north of town have some of the best views of the Shootover River around. With 6 private spaces, european style cedar hot tubs and retractible roofs, the Onsen Hot Pools are a must do experience when staying in the Otago Region. Day and night, summer or winter it is incredible with views of crystal clear glacial waters flowing through the valley or clear starry skies.
Book in for a dusk experience to get the best of both worlds (between NZD$35 – $45 pp) and grab a lift on the courtesy shuttle out of Queenstown. Enjoy the 40 degree water while the temperature drops as the sun dips out of sight behind Coronet Peak. Check local guides for sunset times throughout the year.
Fancy a Queenstown Maisonette
There’s some pretty amazing accommodation available in Queenstown. From the swanky hotels dotted around the lake to apartments and houses of all shapes and sizes and everything in between. If rest and relaxation is your goal, the pick of the litter is a hidden maisonette just out of town. Sharing a view with one of Queenstowns most exclusive addresses, The Matakauri Lodge, the Lakeside Maisonette gives thousand dollar a night vistas for under NZD$300. Available through a number of home booking websites, this one bedroom, well appointed home is an architecturally awarded bach. The view is to die for and it’s visible from every room in the house including the bed and shower!