Contrary to what the title of this post suggests, I’d just like to point out that weirdly everyone is still refusing to call me by my proper title or send me the crown I keep asking for.
But alas, the last long weekend before the uphill winter-month slog seemed like a fitting occasion to escape the bustling metropolis that is Feilding, ahem, and head to Queenstown. The attraction was instant and profound. And please believe me when I say it is a remarkable, astonishingly beautiful slice of the earth. In just four days, it is now my favourite place in the world.
The weeks following this short but oh so sweet getaway have consisted of me asking the Joe Blogs if they have ventured south and exclaiming with OH BUT YOU REALLY MUST. Queenstown and its surrounds has the most breathtaking scenery you can imagine: aquamarine lakes set against jagged, snowcapped mountains and rolling hills, plus the outstanding dining, beautiful hikes, world-class wines, every ridiculous extreme activity you can imagine and five-star snow fields. The fact that the town hosts over 2 million visitors per year is a sure testament to the previously aforementioned.
DINE, WINE, WINE WINE
Queenstown sits in the Otago region, which produces arguably the best Pinot Noir in the world. And I didn’t even dabble in red wine before this excursion!? While there are several billion excellent wineries to visit, I recommend Gibbston Valley, who make award-winning Pinot Noir but also some of the very best chardonnay you can guzzle, all stored in a cave carved in a mountain by a guy with a stick of dynamite. They serve FANtastic tasting boards and leave you feeling rather jolly about life.
We braved the start of winter, to witness what all this snow malarkey was all about. But to be fair, each season is as good as the next in Queenstown. Winter brings snow and sees this resort town heaving with fun seekers from all over the world, spring and summer are picture perfect and ideal for hikers, bike heads and those of you who only own t shirts, and autumn is just magic. Never can you experience such vivid colour (and such a spectrum of it). Your best vantage point to witness all of this is in the beautiful little gold mining settlement of Arrowtown, around 20 minutes out of Queenstown, where you should take one million photos and keep an eye out for international car advertisements being shot on the winding, tree-lined streets.
SPEAKING OF ARROWTOWN…
It’s a secret foody go-to spot for many a rumbly tummies. Breakfast and lunch at the Chop Shop is the queen bee’s knees. Then finishing it off with a flick to the Remarkable Sweet Shop is the perfect full stop.
WHILE WE’RE ON THE SUBJECT OF PIGGING OUT
Queenstown offers some exceptional dining options. It must! It spends most of the year catering to the well-heeled international crowd who demand good grub. Three hands went up for all of the foods and trust me, we literally rolled out of Queenstown. My top pick would be Tanoshi which do the most succulent katsu chook that money can buy tucked away in one of the alleyways of Q town.
The best breakfast I found, and it goes without saying (but not writing, apparently) is a burger from the world-famous Fergburger. Lovingly referred to by some as “Queenstown’s worst kept secret”, Fergburger has been satisfying even the most ardent of culinary critics – both domestic and international – for a number of years. So good in fact that two of those delicious buns were consumed over the long weekend. And at any time of the day too. Hungry at 2am? Fergburger. I’ve never known love quite like it. If the queue is too long however, grab a pie next door (and a doughnut) from Fergbaker. No regurts.
Just take a look at this juicy burger, and tell us you don’t want a piece of the action:
There are two main ski areas in Queenstown (although we didn’t dabble, but watched afar by a heater): Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, which are open mid-June to October-ish. Coronet Peak, depending on the weather conditions/icy roads (which are FREAKING terrifying) is apparently much gentler and a more pleasant way to get your snow fix than The Remarkables, which is a bit more serious and which can only be accessed by a hair-raising road brimming with hairy cliff drop offs. Not ashamed to say we only made it up half way.
DO ALL OF THE THINGS
You know… the bungy jumping, skydiving, helicopter rides, parasailing, paragliding, the gondola up to the luge, the mountain bike riding, the Shotover Jet, the Onsen Hot Pools (just make sure to book 5 years in advance)… you know all of the things. This is an adventure town, after all.
And if you have time up your sleeve, it’s worthwhile making the trip to Wanaka (to visit THAT tree), Cardrona (to have a drink by the fire at the Hotel. Or better yet, have five! You’ve earned it), and Glenorchy (which is just <—— that emoji x 10000).
When it comes to friendliness, Queenstown has some serious street cred. The town is routinely named as being one of the friendliest places in the world- from the singing dog busker, to the American shopkeeper on her OE. One of the reasons why Queenstown attracts so many punters from across the globe is down to its fantastic nightlife. If you’re in the mood to partaaaeeee. Standouts for me was the $8 mulled wine from 1876 and Cowboys (the name says it all really). BUT not before you visit an ice bar and dress up like an Eskimo fishing for whale. The novelty does wear off after 10 minutes, but it’s one of those ‘gotta do it’ things and a quick way to down two VERY strong cocktails. The 2 degree high outside felt like summer.
Queenstown is blessed with a wide range of accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets. Whether you’re after a vibrant backpacker hostel or luxury accommodation, you’ll be able to hunt it down. And at only a hop skip and jump from the town centre.
From backpackers to teenage snowboarders to families and honeymooners and the superwealthy, private jet folk, Queenstown caters to everyone. It really is the best holiday you’ve never been on. GO. And make sure you bring me back some cookie dough from the Cookie Time shop.