I recently travelled around New Zealand ‘s South Island and one of my favourite destinations (arguably also the favourite of many travellers) was Queenstown.
Perched within awe-inspiring mountains and on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is truly amazing and what I would dubb, one of the most beautiful cities on earth. Regardless of your travel style (whether it be for relaxation or exploration) Queenstown has much to offer, which is why I’ve decided to share my thoughts on how to spend the perfect day in Queenstown.
We all know the importance of starting the day right – with a delicious meal of course! I suggest taking a stroll down to the town centre at around 9 – 10am, as most cafes and restaurants will be opening up for the day and the hub of activity should be starting to develop. Having breakfast around the harbour is a definite must, as you will be able to see some amazing views of the surrounding mountains, as well as their reflections in the crystal clear waters of Lake Wakatipu. If that isn’t enough reason to dine near the harbour, the live music and ability to bask in the hustle and bustle will definitely reel you in. The harbour offers plenty of choice in terms of cafes and restaurants, as you are able to order a cheap big breakfast from the local Irish pub or pick up a sweet treat from Patagonia Chocolates dessert cafe.
If you’re after a funky dining experience, in a cafe that caters for vegan/vegetarian diets, allergies and serves damn right delicious food, then don’t miss Vidu Cafe. Vidu serves up some amazing organic meals, sweet treats and coffee – all at reasonable prices. If you happen to pop in for breakfast, you should definitely try the Buttermilk and Buckwheat Pancakes (pictured below), The delicious blend of raspberry compote, cinnamon butter and buckwheat will satisfy your sweet cravings and will leave you wanting to order another serving to fly home with you!
Once you’ve satisfied your hunger, hit the streets and shop until your heart is content! There are plenty of shops for all of your desires, including clothing, footwear, jewellery and outdoor gear. For souvenir shopping, you can’t miss Kapa Design Gallery, which showcases the amazing talents of local New Zealand artists in a range of jewellery, textiles, ceramics, glassware and woodwork. I would also suggest visiting The Remarkable Sweet Shop for a sweet treat to take back home. The Remarkable Sweet Shop sells all things chewy, gummy, brittle and most of all, tasty! Don’t leave without tasting some Remarkable Fudge – you won’t forget it!
After exploring the shops, taking a ride up the Queenstown Gondola is a must! Taking a ride on the Gondola will allow you to check out the panoramic views of Queenstown and the surrounding mountains from the highest point of the city. You must purchase tickets for the skyline gondola and I strongly suggest purchasing the pack with 5 luge rides included. If you’re unsure of what a Luge is, think of sledding down a hill in a sort of go-kart looking track. The activity is super fun and offers amazing views of Queenstown on the chairlift up to the top of the track. Tickets for the Gondola and Luge will set you back NZD$55 and is worth every penny for all the fun that you will have racing your friends and/or family down the mountain.
Be sure to take in the amazing scenery whilst grabbing a bite to eat in the Stratosphere Restaurant, where there are plenty of food options for all diets and at decent prices. If you are a thrill-seeker and keen for more excitement, then I would suggest renting a mountain bike and riding on of the many courses that take you to the base of the mountain. There are different types of terrain and grades for intensity of the ride – green being the easiest and double black being the most difficult. Beware if you dare! 🙂
If you’re a fan of all things South American (including Rum!) then I suggest checking out Habana Rum Bar in the town centre. The bar is tucked away in the streets of Queenstown and really gives off a Cuban vibe by playing funky South American music and displaying colourful decor of famous South Americans, Chavez and Castro alike. The staff are attentive and know their stuff when it comes to making a tasty cocktail. Be sure to try the Classic Mojito, which is the house specialty. Prices are reasonable for the size and quality of the cocktails, which receive raving reviews – check them out here.
After quenching your thirst at Habana, a trip to Devil Burger should definitely be on the cards. Queenstown is full of burger bars, so if you’re fast food fan – this is the place for you! I tried a few different places and my favourite by far was Devil Burger, which offers some great gourmet burgers and fries with options for meat lovers, vegetarians and vegans. For the beef lover, you can’t go past the NY Yankee Burger for that classic mustard and pickle taste. For something a little different, the ‘Dark Knight’ burger is a great pick – venison, kumara rosti, grilled mushrooms, plum relish, lettuce, tomato, red onion and aioli, how could you go wrong! For the vegetarians out there, the ‘Funguy’ is the burger for you – blue cheese and portobello mushroom…need I say more?!
To top off your perfect day, I recommend doing a bar hop across Queenstown, finishing up at the casino. Here’s to good luck!