I’ll be honest, after taking a few trips around the north island I thought to myself: how much more beautiful can it get in south island? Boy, was I wrong?! The moment we touched down and exited the plane, we were greeted with the views of majestic mountain ranges that surrounded Queenstown (did you know that Queenstown airport was named one of the most scenic airports in the world?). And it only got better from there.
With so much city-hopping and exploring crammed in little over two weeks, it was only natural that we longed for a bit of a downtime. Queenstown seemed like a perfect spot for staying put for a couple of days. Those who have been reading this blog know how much I like exploring and being constantly on the go, but, for some reason, Queenstown inspired me to let go. I knew there was a ton of beauty waiting for me beyond the city boundaries as well – our day trips to Milford Sound and Lake Wanaka were a proof of that – but everything already seemed so perfect right where I was that I wanted to soak every minute of it. Queenstown is definitely one of those places where you find yourself thinking how nice it would be to own a house here. Sigh…one day when I hit the jackpot in a lottery.
Idyllic Stay at Queenstown Hilton Resort & Spa
While doing my research, I swooned over the picturesque vistas and longed to stay by that beautiful lakeside and spend at least a day simply enjoying the beautiful place that is Queenstown. Guess what, my mom-in-law was in charge of booking hotel in Queenstown and she surprised us by reserving a resident apartment at Hilton Resort & Spa. It is a stunning property which had everything one could wish for: state of the art accommodations and front row seats to the lake views. It was the most idyllic place to stay put, unwind and embrace the art of slow living.
Located on the outskirts of Queenstown (conveniently, only 10 minutes from the airport), the resort is located right on the shore of Lake Wakatipu and offers spectacular views of the mountains across. We stayed in a first-floor suite, which meant that our porch led straight to the lake. It also meant that the free-roaming ducks would visit us every day (I might or might not have treated them to some cookies too to make them feel welcome… you know, Caucasian hospitality and all).
Some of the highlights of our stay were the delicious breakfast in the morning (staff there is incredibly nice and ready to satisfy your every need – ahem, mug of flat white for this girl, please), sipping warm milk and sharing a blanket with my mom-in-law by the outdoor fireplace overlooking the lake at dawn, and taking a walk along the hiking trail that runs along the shore of the lake. I greatly regret not taking a dip in the resort’s indoor-pool and taking advantage of the sauna. Don’t be me if you stay there.
Whether you choose to take a walk, hike, boat ride or a drive around the lake, you will be greeted with amazing views. Some of the best lookout points around Queenstown include Bob’s Peak/Slyline Gondola, Crown Rangeroad lookout, The Remarkables lookout, Queenstown Hill lookout, Ben Lomond lookout, and, of course, Queenstown-Glenorchy Road, which is one of the most scenic drives you’ll ever experience. You’ll see the snow-capped mountains rise abruptly from the lake’s shores and mirrored onto the pristine waters of Lake Wakatipu. It will blow your mind.
Array of Adventure Opportunities
Queenstown (and New Zealand in general) is a true paradise for adrenaline junkies. Did you know that bungee jumping was invented in Queenstown? There are countless ways to elevate your heart rate, anything from luging, rafting and parasailing, to canyon swings and, of course, bungee jumping. Some might say I’m a chicken. I prefer to think that I love my life way too much to do anything crazy, so we just opted for a scenic flight from Milford Sound to Queenstown (believe me, it got scary enough at some point!). Most importantly, Queenstown is a primary skiing and snowboarding destination attracting crowds in winter.
You will definitely not die of hunger in Queenstown. It might be a little town, but it has a really good choice of restaurants, anything from local cuisine to Indian fare. Fergburger is an institution in Queenstown. They are insanely popular and almost always have a long line. Overall it took us about 20 minutes to get our burgers and fries (yum and yum), which we devoured on the shores of the lake while people watching and enjoying those views. We then proceeded to indulge in ice-cream and cake with coffee at Patagonia Chocolates conveniently located right by the lake. Another culinary highlight was The Cows. With a funny name and charming French chalet-like ambiance, this place is a little gem that serves ah-mazing pizza and one of the best garlic bread I’ve ever had! Definitely a comfort food place, probably more so after a long day of skiing. We also had dinner at Eichardt’s which was good, but wouldn’t set your world on fire. Sadly, we couldn’t get a reservation at Rata, which is a top fine dining restaurant in Queenstown with tons of accolades.
World-class Wineries & Vineyard Restaurants Within Arms Reach
While they are not technically in Queenstown, an easy 30-minute drive can bring you to some of the best wineries in the country which also house great restaurants. During our tour of Gibbston Valley, we visited Amisfield, Gibbston Cheesery, and Peregrine, all serving great wine in a beautiful atmosphere. You can read more about our wine tasting tour here.
Have you been to Queenstown? What made you fall in love with this town?
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