The Best of Queenstown

You might remember my Queenstown guide from a couple years ago when Nick and I visited over Canterbury Anniversary weekend. We try to get away on long weekends whenever possible, but this year we were determined to save money (for obvious reasons). Initially, we thought we’d do a day trip somewhere nearby, but when the team at Southern PR invited us on a handful of exciting adventures, we couldn’t say no. Not only were we treated to some of Queenstown’s finest food and drink, we experienced first-hand the sustainability efforts Queenstown businesses are putting in play to make this popular destination as environmentally-friendly as possible. If you’re after a holiday that’s both action-packed and eco-friendly, read on for some ideas…

We kicked things off with a stay at mi-pad, a smart, sustainable hotel where your mobile phone acts as a digital concierge. All you have to do is download the app, mia to check in, access your room and quickly change the lighting and temperature. What I love about mi-pad is how effectively they utilize space – everything is consciously designed and carefully considered. Our room was perfectly compact; it had everything we needed and nothing we didn’t. Oh, and the view was spectacular. I’ve wanted to stay at mi-pad ever since it opened earlier this year. I like the growing trend of smaller hotels with shared spaces and the focus on only using what you need.

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After a quick power nap (and some Netflix because you can Chromecast your phone to the TV, another neat feature!) I strolled into Moochi, which had conveniently opened that day. Afterwards, I ventured to Yonder for an intimate dinner with Southern PR and a lovely group of Queenstown content creators. I’d been to Yonder for breakfast last summer and loved the beautiful outdoor space and was impressed by the eclectic vegan and plant-based options. Yonder caters to all diets and everything is clearly marked, making it super easy to find dishes you’ll love. We sampled the new summer menu and it was ridiculously delicious! From fried cheese balls and fried chicken to fresh ceviche and lovely summer salads, everything was incredible. Their cocktail lineup is equally impressive. I loved the summer spritz, which is Yonder’s take on an Aperol spritz, but with rhubarb. Basically, I’ll be attempting to recreate it for the next few months. After dinner, we were treated to live music, which is a regular occurrence at Yonder Live.

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The following day, Nick and I were up bright and early for a wine tour with Alpine Wine Tours. Queenstown’s surge in tourism means that more and more wine tours and companies have opened up this year. Alpine took us to a mix of boutique vineyards and well-known wineries. Central Otago is well known as one of the top three destinations for pinot noir alongside Burgundy, France and Oregon, USA. It’s also my preferred type of wine, so I was eager to try plenty of it on this tour. We stopped at Kinross for scrumptious platters and even sampled pinot noir chocolate (yum!) at Gibbston Valley. My personal favourite was Mt. Rosa, a boutique winery with amazing views and excellent wines. Both Nick and I loved the rosé and they also serve mulled wine and sangria, which is a refreshing change. I’ve been on plenty of wine tours, but I like the small size of our group and our tour guide, who was full of fun anecdotes and details about this beautiful wine region.

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Just as we finished up at our last winery, the rain started to come down as we were due for dinner at Erik’s Fish and Chips, but that didn’t stop us. We met with the lovely owner, Anna who told us that Queenstown didn’t have a fish and chip shop three years ago when they opened. They’ve been hugely successful, especially on sunnier days, when customers can take their meals down to the beach. The menu is extensive and they do a tasty fish fry up, but probably most noteworthy is the deep fried kiwi fruit. It’s the perfect mix of sweet and sour and I can’t recommend it more. Another cool thing about Erik’s is that everything on the menu is gluten-free, but you’d never know. The team recently took home SME Business of the Year at the local business awards and have opened up shop in Wanaka. Definitely add this spot to your list when you’re next in QT.

Queenstown has experienced a population boom in recent years and traffic is becoming increasingly problematic with only one road in and out of the city. To help reduce congestion, Queenstown Ferries have refreshed their offering with Go Orange. Commuters and visitors can say goodbye to traffic jams, road rage and the hunt for an elusive car park. I really can’t think of a more scenic and sustainable way to get in and out of the town centre.

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If you’re looking to get out and enjoy nature (of course you are, you’re in Queenstown), be sure to book yourself in for some ziplining adventures with Ziptrek. The Canadian company originally opened in Whistler before expanding to Queenstown. The views are unparalleled and the team is focused on educating visitors on local sustainability efforts. Each line begins with a quick lesson on how we can reduce our environmental impact. We did the Kea Tour, which includes six ziplines, finishing with a ride that descends 30 storeys at speeds of up to 70kph! It’s definitely a unique way to get down the mountain.

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I was pleased to arrive in time for the opening of SLOW. A concept store on Beach Street, SLOW embraces and is named after the movement that encourages us to slow down our consumption habits. Rather than succumbing to fast fashion, SLOW is all about buying less but better. Exclusively stocking plenty of Scandinavian, American and Canadian brands, I was taken by the gorgeous homewares, well-made clothing and coffee table books in the light-filled shop. There’s also a FRAMA coffee machine with a cabinet of vegan and wholefoods. It’s definitely worth visiting when you’re next in Queenstown.

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Some other businesses I’d suggest visiting:

Vudu Café and Larder: For a classic breakfast, I can’t go past Vudu. Grab a seat at one of the communal tables overlooking the lake and tuck into eggs and hash. And their coconut milk flat white is bliss!

Bespoke Kitchen With a focus on healthy breakfasts and plant-based treats, I make a point of stopping into Bespoke whenever I’m in Queenstown. The coffee’s excellent and the smoothie bowl is divine. Bespoke is right near the base of the gondola, so if you’re planning on a trip to the highest point in QT, stop here before or after for a bite.

Amisfield Winery Nick and I stopped here for lunch and a tasting a few years ago and I’ve been wanting to return ever since. They’ve released their 2018 rosé and I’m so eager to try it. Definitely book in advance as it can get busy!

Sherwood Queenstown I’ve stayed here previously and can’t recommend it enough. The Sherwood reminds me of the Canadian Rockies in the best way possible. It has a decidedly ski-lodge feel to it, with beautiful amenities, an incredible in-house restaurant and yoga studio. The outdoor eating area feels like a cosy campfire hangout. You honestly won’t want (or need) to ever leave.

Miss Lucy’s Located on the rooftop of Jucy Snooze, Miss Lucy’s is a beautifully designed space with epic views. Nick and I enjoyed watching the Queenstown Marathon finish line as we sipped on their new cocktail menu (their Aperol Spritz is killer) and delicious pizzas. The branding here is on point with impeccable attention to design detail, making it super ‘gram worthy.

Have you been to Queenstown before? If so, where are your must-visit spots?

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