One thing I have made a resolution to do is see more of my own country. Considering the fact that Queenstown is one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations, and I hadn’t been since I was a kid, it quickly made it to the top of our list for a bit of an Easter Weekend road trip.
In hindsight, perhaps Easter Weekend wasn’t the best choice, because it most certainly seemed to be everybody else’s! Queenstown was PACKED, guys. But we were on holiday and chilled out – though some places we busier than they usually might be, we still had an amaaaazing time!
Here’s some of the things we did that should be on your list in Queenstown:
Skyline Gondola and Luge – Head up the Gondola for a morning/afternoon, and add on a few luge rides for fun. We bought the Gondola + 5 luge ride package for $50. The luge is super fun! We were there on the busiest day of the year (they had so many people they ran out of helmets!) and it took us a good 3 hours or more to complete our 5 rides, however on a normal day you will do your 5 rides in an hour or so. Tip: grab some lunch before or after you go up, food at the top is pricey!
XD Theatre – A family-run business offering a couple of types of simulators, great for a rainy day or to pass a bit of time. Our favourite was the 7D simulator where you had to shoot the zombies…even though I came second to last it was still fun! Again, pricey - $30 a pop or $45 for two rides. But it was good fun!
Hot Chocolate or Gelato at Patagonia – Patagonia Chocolate shop is a bit of a destination in Queenstown. They serve real hot chocolate, as in delicious dark chocolate melted into hot milk. YUM! We went for the hot chocolate because the fresh evening air was chilly, but their range of gelato looked incredible too – if only it was a few degrees warmer!
Walk around Kelvin Heights – Kelvin Heights is on the other side of Frankton, a peninsula jutting out on the other side of the lake from Queenstown. We went for a drive and ended up strolling right around the golf course (perhaps 2-3km) and had a lot of fun involving an old boat ramp, jetty’s rope swings…and miniature Chihuahuas (OHMYGOSH SO CUTE). Beautiful views across the lake.
Day trip to Arrowtown – Just a 15 minute or so drive away, Arrowtown is an absolutely picturesque town to visit for a morning or afternoon. Head there for lunch in one of its many cafes, and spend a couple of hours wandering the streets exploring its golden history.
And some things we didn’t do that should be on your list:
Shotover Jet – Not only was this super busy when we were there but it is also very expensive! At $129 a pop for a 25 minute ride, we simply couldn’t justify the cost (in cut-back mode, we are off to Costa Rica in May!). However, from what I have heard it is super thrilling! The Shotover Jet is the only jetboat that does full 360* spins and has exclusive access to the Shotover Canyon – if you can afford it, it is highly recommended!
Bungee Jump – There are plenty of bungee options in Queenstown, just be sure to book in advance if you are there over a busy period. When we were up the Gondola the bungee up there was fully booked – however the bottom of the luge is a great viewing platform to watch them jump off. I enjoy the thrill of watching others do it but don’t know if I could do that to myself…!
Ice Bar – Another Queenstown institution – the Ice Bar. There are actually two Ice Bars in Queenstown- yep, that's right a bar in which everything is made from ice. From what I’ve heard they are fun for about 15 minutes or so before you get cold and over it – but worth it for the novelty! We didn’t make it but I will probably go to an Ice Bar next time.
Fergburger – Not so much fine dining, but perhaps the most popular burger bar in New Zealand – if you don’t mind waiting in a queue at least 15 people deep. I hear its delicious, but when I’m hungry I don’t have the patience to wait in a line that long..!
Where we stayed:
Kawerau by Hilton, in the Hilton complex in Frankton. $118 per night. Great if you have a car, perhaps stay closer if you don’t. There is a water taxi that zips you into town but its $10 each way which adds up quickly and it is not very regular (doesn't run after 9.30pm).
Its no secret that Queenstown is a very expensive city. Make sure you go with that in mind. Book accommodation well in advance, and go with the expectation you are going to burn through a bit of cash. No regrets, right? Also - call up and confirm your booking a day in advance, just to be safe.
Queenstown is such a beautiful area of New Zealand! Have you visited Queenstown?