As New Zealand’s adventure capital, Queenstown is on everybody’s travel bucket list. On my first visit in April 2009, my friends and I decided it was a good idea to go bungy jumping, sky diving, white water rafting, jet boating, luging and for a helicopter ride – in one weekend alone! We also tried Fergburger, visited a multitude of bars and pubs, and marvelled at the Remarkables. Needless to say, my recent visits to Queenstown aren’t quite as jam packed.
With summer around the corner and the pull of a long weekend, Nick and I packed our weekend bags and hopped in the car for an Otago road trip. Tourism has skyrocketed in Queenstown since 2009, and so have house prices and temporary accommodation. Thankfully, Nick’s uncle has graciously opened his home to us on recent trips. His well-situated pad offers breathtaking views within close proximity to the wonders of the city.
Should you be considering a visit to Queenstown, the following list will take you beyond the typical tourist traps.
First up, we visited the Onsen Pools, located in Arthur’s Point. They are located high on a cliffside overlooking the magnificent Shotover River canyon. The pools have seen a refresh in recent years and the experience is similar to that of authentic onsens in Japan. I’m not sure how it’s taken me seven years to venture to these hot pools, but I don’t want you to suffer the same fate. If you’re looking for a date idea with a view, these pools will be right up your alley.
One of my all-time favourite breakfasts can be enjoyed at Bespoke Kitchen. The café, which was named New Zealand Café of the Year in 2015, focuses primarily on raw and organic options. Alongside vegan and vegetarian staples, Bespoke also has heartier (and meatier) dishes available. I highly recommend the smoothie bowls and chia pudding. Vudu Café and Larder, which is run by the same team, is another Queenstown favourite.
Other Queenstown restaurants worth mentioning:
Rata: Run by Michelin-starred chef, Josh Emmett.
Eichardt’s Bar: An iconic Queenstown bar serving delicious cocktails in a gorgeous setting.
Amisfield Winery: If you like your meal with a view, Amisfield is sure to satisfy.
The Boat Shed: Relaxed waterfront dining at Sugar Lane Frankton Marina.
La Rumbla: A casual eatery with excellent wine, cocktails and food.
A trip to Queenstown isn’t complete without a stop in Arrowtown. Sitting in the Arrow Basin, the gold rush village is nestled below the peaks that surround the Arrow River. Explore the historic main street and marvel at the heritage buildings, some of which still retain their original facades.