I spent four days in Queenstown in November of 2015 and it has since become one of my favorite places I’ve ever visited. Airport? Amazing. Accommodation? Amazing. Food? Amazing. Drinks? Amazing. Attractions? Amazing. There were no aspects of Queenstown that disappointed me. So here it is; a quick guide to Queenstown in my own opinion.
We hoped off the plane and it was bloody freezing, not the point. Refreshing? Yes; but still, not the point. Walking through the airport was a walk in the park. I have not flown much so I am completely pathetic when it comes to airports and where to go first, then next, then last; but Queenstown’s was small and self-explanatory. The airport staff are lovely and helpful, there are plenty of stores in case you need to purchase anything last minute and there is excellent transport services- such as buses and taxis- running regularly.
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We were on the bus with our massive cases of luggage driving up the steep, curvy roads of Queenstown when the bus stopped and the driver reminded up that we had reached our stop. From the entrance, it looks tiny, but walk down the driveway and the small, quaint cabins amaze you, lining the circular area where buses stop and the entrance to reception/bar/restaurant lays.
The rooms are spacey, clean and light, consists of two double beds (in our case) with a better than average bathroom, closet space and television. The restaurant is spectacular! It’s located on top of a mountain with a magnificent view of the water, architecturally beautiful houses and mountainous landscape surrounding the Queenstown area. The food is great and seating is comforting, looking out over the mountains. The bar is relatively cheap, the staff are generous and helpful and buses and taxis visit the area often with a stop right outside the reception area.
The main point is the pizza is delicious! Probably the greatest-tasting pizza I’ve every tried and I bloody love pizza. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are available, the location is central to Queenstown Mall and the restaurant itself is cozy and the perfect place for a family night or dining out with friends.
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When in New Zealand, every NEEDS to try a Ferg! Fergburger is native to Queenstown and is a New Zealand specialty. If you’re from Australia, it is basically the Kiwi version of Grill’d- except probably better… Burgers are made fresh with a large variety available. If you’re still hungry afterwards- which I doubt you’ll be as the burgers are huge- pop on over to Mrs Ferg Gelato or Fergbaker (a delicious bakery)!
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Strolling through Queenstown Mall, trying to find a snack and BAM! Patagonia Chocolates caught my eye. Duh, it’s chocolate after all…
If you’re a fan of Max Brenner, you’ll be a fan of this place. It’s home to delicious chocolaty sweets and treats, free Wi-Fi and yummy hot chocies made with real, melted milk chocolate. My fave. With locations in Queenstown (been there, done that), Wanaka (tempting but I thought to immerse myself in other New Zealand specialities) Queenstown Airport and Arrowtown (been there, done that), you can find it easily throughout your travels in the South Island.
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The ice bar is an experience in itself. It might be minus 11 degrees Celsius in the bar itself, but it is very worth it! The Ice Bar is located in the Queenstown Mall and is an excellent group activity to plan. Bookings are essential most the time as sessions have limited numbers, but it’s an even better experience through a group booking as you have the whole bar to yourself. Drinks are very cheap, there’s a photo booth made of ice, an ice-hockey table and even your glasses are ice!
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The Shotover River is my favourite part of Queenstown. The river itself is the epiphany of beauty, glistening through the sunrays, dancing off the shiny blue water, surrounded by a mountainous landscape covered in yellow ferns and green shrubbery. The jet-boat ride is a must do! As you’re rushing through the swerved river at high speeds, almost touching the rock ledges surrounding the river, doing twists and turns and 360 degree spins, try and spot a friendly fisherman standing in the middle of the definition of the wilderness in the cool, fresh air. It is an experience you’ll never forget.
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Arrowtown has a charm to it! The small, cozy little town is located 21 minutes by car from the centre of Queenstown and has a historic sense with small shops lining the city centre. There’s lovely green trees nestled everywhere and the people are friendly with a warm smile.
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MUST VISIT: Queenstown Mall/Wharf
The mall has everything you could ever think of, besides cheap gloves, I couldn’t find them. It’s easy to navigate and is the ideal shopping destination in the South Island for anyone seeking out some retail therapy or souvenir shopping. Also, public transport runs regularly from many different destinations around the mall and surrounding businesses.
The wharf is something altogether. The view of the boats resting on the lake, surrounded by mountains, with other passerby’s and tourist admiring the view, appreciating life and nature or being thankful for the day off work. No matter what, the mall and wharf are joyful places.
This is also a must-do activity. Ride the gondola up the mountain and take in the views from above of below. When you arrive at the top, visit the Stratosfare restaurant and enjoy a deeply nourishing meal and a drink or two. The ride the luge down the mountain and catch the gondola back up again to start all over!
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Queenstown is a child’s/teenager’s/adults paradise. No matter what age or gender, the town has something to offer everyone and is a definite location to stop in while exploring the beautiful country of New Zealand.