Queenstown

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Queenstown is world famous for its adventure sports, and the town itself is filled with shops, bars and award-winning restaurants. Whether you’re here for the fabulous skiing, the world class wineries, some of the greatest walking and climbing in the world, or you just want to relax and listen to some live jazz on a warm summer evening surrounded by the inspiring landscape, you’ll find it all here in Queenstown. This little New Zealand town located in the south west corner of the south island of New Zealand, is counted as one of the worlds most desirable lifestyle destinations and is only a 3-hour direct flight from Melbourne or Sydney.

Wine

  • Akarua–  the 50 hectare single estate vineyard is planted to pinot noir, pinot gris and chardonnay. Their philosophy is to allow the purity of Bannockburn fruit and the unique terroir to show through in every bottle through absolute attention to detail. (Cairnmuir Road, Bannockburn) Cellar door open 7 days, 10:30am-4pm.
  • Aurum Wines– a family owned boutique winery producing high quality wines. (140 State Highway 6, Cromwell) Cellar door open 7 days, 10-5pm.
  • Bald Hill wines– beautiful handcrafted wines, specialising in pinot noir, pinot gris and riesling. (46 Cornish Point Road, Bannockburn) Cellar door open Friday to Monday 1pm-5pm, other times by appointment on +64-3- 445 -3161
  • Bannock Brae– from the very beginning the pursuit of quality has determined every decision made on the vineyard and in the winemaking process.  This philosophy has quickly been reflected in their award-winning wines.  I highly recommend trying their world-class pinot noirs (212 Cairnmuir Road, Bannockburn) Cellar door open weekends only from 1pm-5pm during the winter season and 7 days during the peak holiday season.
  • Brennan Wines– the majority of the vineyard is over sixteen years old, representing some of the most mature vines in the area. Brennan Wines was established in 2006 with the intention of producing limited quantities of iconic wines that truly represent the potential of this exceptional wine region. (86 Gibbston Back Road, Queenstown) Cellar door open 7 days, 11-5pm.
  • Burn Cottage– less is most definitely more at this biodynamic estate, starting with its range. While its output begins and ends with a single pinot noir (riesling and gruner veltliner are expected next year), it’s a worthy flagship. Gorgeously perfumed and exhibiting tremendous poise, this pinot is made in minuscule quantities and is highly sought after locally and further afield. (3/7 Rogers Street, Cromwell) By appointment.
  • Carrick wines– Carrick’s first vintage was in 2000. Since then the label has established a strong reputation for quality and a commitment to “green winegrowing”, with both vineyards and winery certified organic. Their pinot noirs are world-class, while their chardonnay and crisp rieslings are also well worth sampling. (247 Cairnmuir Rd, Bannockburn) Cellar door open 7 days, 11-5pm.
  • Chard Farm– the wines here are very good, their pinot noirs being my standout pick, but there are a few rarities for these parts such as chardonnay and gewürztraminer that are worth seeking out too. Another reason why you should tackle Chard Farm becomes obvious the minute you turn off the main highway. This has to be one of the more hair-raising, pulse-quickening entrances to a cellar door on the planet. Once the main road between Queenstown and Cromwell, Chard Road teeters along the side of a cliff, allowing a few spare inches of dirt and rubble between your wheels and the raging waters coursing through the Kawarau Gorge several hundred feet below.  (205 Chard Rd, Gibbston-The entrance is 100 metres past the AJ Hackett Kawarau Bungy Bridge) Cellar door open 7 days, 10-5pm.
  • Felton Rd-  any wine drive through the region must include a visit here. Under winemaker Blair Walter, Felton Road has attracted worldwide attention to Central Otago, and its pinot noir wines are especially keenly sought after. It was also among the first New Zealand wineries to achieve full biodynamic certification.(Felton Rd, Cromwell) Cellar door open Monday to Friday, 2-5pm. To visit at other times please contact +64- 3- 445- 0885.
  • Gate 20 two– among the all-star names that populate Bannockburn is this boutique producer. While owners Pauline and Nigel McKinlay sell most of their grapes to Mt Difficulty, they retain a tiny amount for their own label. The stable consists of just two wines – a pinot noir and pinot gris – both excellent examples of their varieties. The pinot gris, in particular, is texturally astounding. (143 Felton Road, Bannockburn) Cellar door open 7 days, 11-4pm.
  • Hinton Estate Vineyard– established by the Hinton family that have been growing premium fruit in Central Otago for the last five generations. Wonderfully made pinot noirs along with increasing plantings of pinot gris, riesling, viogner and gewürztraminer. (19 Chicago St, Alexandra) Cellar door open 7 days in summer from  9am-5pm. From June to October, Monday to Friday 10-4pm.
  • Mt Difficulty– a great range of wines that have rapidly established Mt Difficulty as one of the leading lights in Central Otago. The selection includes several different takes on pinot gris in addition to two full-bodied pinot noirs and a pinot noir rosé. Enjoy equally impressive views from the cellar door. (73 Felton Rd, Bannockburn) Cellar door open 7 days, 10:30am-4:30pm.
  • Mount Edward – dedicated to the production of premium pinot noir, pinot blanc and riesling. The winemakers ruthlessly de-classify fruit to meet their exacting standards. Mount Edward vineyards operate organically and are bio-gro certified. (34 Coalpit Road, Gibbston) Open by appointment, Monday to Friday- contact +64-3-442 6113.
  • Northburn Station– a solid selection of well made wines. The range includes pinot noir, riesling, pinot gris and sauvignon blanc. The tasting room includes a farm-gate shop which sells an array of local produce: farm meat cuts, free-range eggs, salmon smoked on the property, home-made feta and a range of condiments and preserves.(45 Northburn Station Road, Cromwell) Cellar door open 7 days, 10:30am-4:30pm.
  • Peregrine– there are an impressive selection of wines, particularly the rieslings. Their cellar door  is a stunning piece of architectural design. Set dramatically in the steeply sided ravine of Gibbston, its long upswept roof was inspired by the fluttering arc of a peregrine falcon’s wing extended in flight. (2127 Kawaru Gorge Rd, Gibbston) Cellar door open 7 days, 10-5pm.
  • Quartz Reef– they produce an exciting range of wines from their estate grown vintage and non-vintage sparkling wine to pinot gris and pinot noir. (8 Hughes Crescent, Cromwell) Cellar door open Monday to Friday 10-3pm, some weekends in summer, or by appointment.
  • Rippon vineyard– may just be the most spectacularly positioned vineyard on the planet, which is right on the southern shores of Lake Wanaka and surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Former champion skier Nick Mills crafts equally majestic wines, all well worth trying. (246 Mt Aspiring Rd, Wanaka) Cellar door open 7 days, 11-5pm. Closed May and June unless by appointment.
  • Three Miners– this would be my pick from all the world-class pinot noirs emanating from New Zealand.  Wonderful fruit- driven wines with just a hint of spice. (89 McPherson Road, Alexandra). Open most days between the hours of 9am-5pm, call ahead just to confirm on +64-3 -449 -2343.
  • Wooing Tree vineyard– outstanding pinot noirs with equally impressive chardonnay and pinot gris. (7 Westmoreland Place, Cromwell) Cellar door open 7 days, 10am-5pm.

Dine

  • Fergburger– one of Queenstown’s greatest glories. Burger bars don’t get much better than this, and even though you’ll have to elbow your way to the counter through a herd of snowboarders, the effort will be repaid in big, juicy spades. (42 Shotover St, Queenstown) http://fergburger.com/fullscreen.html
  • Bespoke Kitchen–  A hearty brunch with a focus on organic and raw ingredients is an ideal energy booster when you’re in Queenstown, particularly on a day filled with activities. Bespoke Kitchen is the newest addition to the town’s burgeoning cafe scene, tucked away in the quieter side of town.  It’s the perfect spot to relax and take in the surrounding vista, or sit outside by the outdoor fire in the depths of winter. (9 Isle St, Queenstown)
  • Botswana Butchery– an innovative and diverse menu with strong focus on fine cut meats and locally sourced foods. Dine in the main space downstairs or one of the private rooms for two which sport armchairs, private fireplace and lake views. There’s also an excellent bar upstairs. A visit to Queenstown is not complete without an evening spent at Botswana Butchery. (17 Marine Parade, Queenstown) www.botswanabutchery.co.nz/queenstown/
  • Fishbone– a seafood lovers’ paradise. (7 Beach St, Queenstown) www.fishbonequeenstown.co.nz/
  • Jack’s Point Clubhouse– Nestled at the base of the South Island’s Remarkable Ranges and occupying what is arguably one of the most dramatic locations of any restaurant in the country, the Clubhouse at Jack’s Point puts on a world class show with its awe-inspiring surroundings. Make the most of locally sourced seasonal produce in one of Queenstown’s finest establishments. (Woolshed Road, Remarkables). https://www.jackspoint.com/restaurant/
  • Jervois steak house– meats of impeccable provenance are the star attraction here. Quality cocktails and an expansive wine list add to the upmarket casual vibe. (Lower steps, Brecon St, Queenstown). https://www.jervoissteakhouse.co.nz/queenstown
  • Joe’s Garage– part-American diner, part-garage, Joe’s is perfect for refuelling with some of the best coffee and brunches in town. (Searle lane, Queenstown) www.joes.co.nz/restaurants/queenstown
  • Kappa– Queenstown’s premier Japanese food outing. (36a The Mall, Queenstown)
  • Madame Woo– an offshoot of the highly acclaimed Rata dining, the recently opened Madame Woo’s focus is on fresh breezy Asian food with a Chinese-Malaysian flavour. (5 Ballarat St, 5 The Mall, Queenstown)
  • No5 Church Lane– Perfect for groups, the mezze offering is a great way to get a taste of everything; the roast beetroot falafel and venison and pinot noir pate are particular highlights. Its cocktail bar serves some of the best drinks in town and is great spot to start the night off – its perfectly formed space is both fun and ambient. (3-5 Church Lane, Queenstownhttps://www.no5churchlane.com/menu/
  • Rata Dining– lunch, dinner and bar grazing is available everyday from a menu that makes the most of this region’s abundance of local produce. ( 43 Ballarat St, Queenstown) www.ratadining.co.nz/
  • Taco Medic– If you’ve worked up an appetite from all that activity, this is the perfect spot to grab some of the best tacos you’ll ever have. With locally sourced ingredients and friendly service, the Taco Medic has two handy locations in Searle Lane and in a taco truck on Brecon St, perfect for an outdoor lunch. Try its beautifully arranged Fisherman taco or the Stockman: tender slow-cooked beef marinated in citrus and spices and topped off with chipotle crème fraiche. (3 Searle Ln, Queenstownhttp://tacomedic.co.nz/
  • The Bunker – one of my favourite places to eat in Queenstown is also one of the hardest to find. This tiny, six-table establishment is hidden, speakeasy-style, down a side lane and has no signage. Be sure to book a table in advance for its hearty local-meets-European fare. (Cow Lane, Queenstown) www.thebunker.co.nz/
  • Toro–  recent addition to Queenstown, focusing on fresh Mediterranean-inspired dishes. This cafe-cum-restaurant is the perfect pit stop for breakfast, lunch, dinner or drinks. Try the house-baked breads, or for those with a sweet tooth, don’t go past the delicious churros and chocolate torte. For the morning crowd, it’s a good spot to grab one of the best coffees in town. (20 Mall St, Queenstown) 
  • Vudu Cafe and Larder– a lovely cafe style menu, also serving some of the best coffee in town. (16 Rees St, Queenstown) www.vudu.co.nz/vudu-cafe-larder/home-vudu-cafe-larder
  • Wai Restaurant– situated right on the waterfront, elegant Wai has one of the best locations and reputations in Queenstown. It’s known for its superb seafood and oysters, New Zealand beef and lamb and the extensive wine list. (Steamer Wharf- Beach St, Queenstown)
  • White + Wong’s– White + Wong’s ‘east meets west’ cuisine takes classic street foods from China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand – the noodles, soups, curries and delicious dumplings – and created an eclectic menu to pick and choose from to suit. (59 Beach Street, Queenstown)https://whiteandwongs.co.nz/queenstown/
  • Yonder– Pushing culinary boundaries in unexpected ways, Yonder is the health-focused eatery that Queenstown can’t get enough of. Boasting wholesome fare to suit every palate and persuasion, the menu encompasses dishes free from gluten, dairy, nuts, sugar, animal products and other unnecessary nasties. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with an appetite-whetting selection of cabinet treats too. (14 Church Street, Queenstown). https://www.yonderqt.co.nz/

Recline

  • Eichardt’s Private Hotel– New Zealand’s most exclusive lakefront address, Eichart’s has sumptuous suites  overlooking either the mountain or the lake – along with excellent service. Open log fires make for a cosy environment during winter months, while the lakefront location makes it ideal for the summer too.  www.eichardts.com/
  • Element Escapes– overlooking downtown Queenstown, Element Escapes combines all the comforts of a hotel stay with the flexibility of an apartment. Offering luxury accommodation at two separate stunning locations on Queenstown Hill, this is not your typical hotel room vista. Each apartment comes in two bedroom and two bathroom configurations, are completely self-contained and are especially generous in the space department.  http://www.elementescapes.co.nz/
  • Hilton Queenstown Hotel– the only hotel positioned directly on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, the Hilton Queenstown showcases panoramic views over unspoilt terrain just fifteen minutes from Queenstown by lake or land.  http://queenstownhilton.com/
  • Matakauri Lodge– is wonderfully positioned overlooking a glacial lake with the jagged peaks of the Remarkables mountain range serving as a magnificent backdrop (Be sure to visit their website for the spectacular images). After a 12 month makeover, the property has emerged as an intimate boutique lodge with just 11 suites – all with picture windows to capture the magical views.  http://matakauri.co.nz/
  • Millbrook resort– golf and spa complex of cottages and villas, in a pastoral mountain valley just 20 minutes from Queenstown.  www.millbrook.co.nz/
  • Sofitel Queenstown–  located in downtown Queenstown, the hotel features 82 rooms and suites, all with private balconies and a choice of mountain or lake views.
  • The Dairy– between an après-ski lodge and a boutique hotel, this cozy spot is a short, sharp drive uphill from central Queenstown. The Dairy has 13 well-appointed rooms spread through two adjoining buildings. All are furnished simply but stylishly. www.thedairy.co.nz/
  • The Rees Hotel– perfectly positioned just a short drive from the centre of town, the hotel’s rooms are private with uninterrupted views over Lake Wakatipu to The Remarkables mountain range.The apartments are also supremely comfortable.  www.therees.co.nz/
  • The Spire– an ultra modern hideaway that successfully combines high style with warm service. With just 10 suites and the town’s only champagne bar, it’s the destination of choice for those with an eye for detail and an appreciation of stellar service.  http://thespirehotel.com/

Plus

  • AJ Hackett Bungy– the world pioneer of Bungy Jumping. It all started in Queenstown, New Zealand in 1988, and since then they have become an established world leader in the tourism industry. Unfortunately, this is one activity I am not willing to try. If you find the courage, please send in some pictures. www.bungy.co.nz/
  • Arrowtown– half an hour’s drive from Queenstown, Arrowtown is a pretty gold-mining town that houses upmarket boutiques and craft shops.
  • Central Otago Farmers’ Market– held every Sunday from late October until the end of February, 9am – 1pm. (off Melmore Terrace, on the edge of Lake Dunstan- approximately a 50 minute drive from Queenstown).
  • Golf– three golf courses worth playing include: Millbrook resort (www.millbrook.co.nz/resort/golf/), Jack’s Point golf course (www.jackspoint.com/golf/) and The Hills golf course (www.thehills.co.nz/)
  • Sunrise Balloon Adventures– hot air balloon rides that  take place in the valleys between Queenstown and Arrowtown with magnificent views of the unique terrain. The launch site is only a 10 minute drive from downtown Queenstown. www.ballooningnz.com/
  • Lake Wanaka – Lake Wanaka’s spectacular location at the foot of the Southern Alps makes it a magnet for outdoor lovers the world over. The drive there from Queenstown takes approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Highlights include: taking a walk around the lake (if this is not enough, there are over 700km’s of tracks in the area), hire a kayak or paddleboard, try skiing or snowboarding in the winter months (Wanaka has been voted as one of the top 25 ski towns in the world), go cycling or mountain biking (there are plenty of family-friendly off-road trails by the lakes, rivers or through the woodland or join a guided bike tour to make the most of the region’s bike network. For the more energetic riders the exhilarating downhill tracks in Sticky forest are a must or head to the Lismore Park jump park. Deans bank track is a purpose built mountain biking track and is great fun for whole family) and finally don’t forget to visit Rippon vineyard (as mentioned in my wineries to visit). For exceptional accomodation in the Wanaka area visit: www.releasenz.com/luxury-accommodation
  • Limousine services–  Super Shuttle (+64 3 442 3639), www.snagbus.com/,  and www.limousineservicesqueenstown.co.nz/
  • Onsen Hot Pools– Queenstown’s only private indoor / outdoor hot pools, high on the cliffs overlooking the Shotover River canyon. http://onsen.co.nz/
  • Paraglide over Queenstown- there’s nothing like running and jumping off a mountain to wake you up in the morning. G Force Paragliding are the only company permitted to fly over Queenstown. It is one of the largest and most established tandem operators in the world, and the longest standing in Queenstown. My favourite from the vast array of adventure sports on offer. www.nzgforce.com/
  • Patagonia Chocolates– experience the magic of chocolate creation firsthand, in their store. The shop also features over 30 flavours of handmade ice cream and  rich dark hot drinking chocolate. http://www.patagoniachocolates.co.nz/our-cafes/queenstown/
  • Provisions of Central Otago– makes a range of handmade all natural preserves and baking made using all local fruit grown in Central Otago.Preserves are all glutenfree with no added preservatives, additives nor food colouring. A must-try product is their roasted cherry chutney. www.provisions.co.nz/about.htm
  • Shotover Jet– acknowledged as the world’s most famous jet boat operation, many imitate Shotover Jet, but for sheer excitement no one comes close. Shotover Jet has thrilled over 3 million people since 1970. www.shotoverjet.com/
  • Snow Skiing– my two recommendations for both the quality of terrain and snow, and the close proximity to Queenstown are: Coronet Peak (an easy 20 minute drive from Queenstown on a sealed road) www.nzski.com/coronetpeak/about.jsp and The Remarkables (45 minute drive from Queenstown but please note; the road up is unsealed, corrugated, steep, dusty and has no safety rails. Chains definitely need to be carried and signs on the way up the mountain will indicate if chains need to be put on 2-WD or 4-WD vehicles. I recommend catching a shuttle bus from Queenstown which runs quite frequently) www.nzski.com/theremarkables/about.jsp
  • Skyline Gondola– admire the blockbuster location of Queenstown from atop the Skyline Gondola. www.skyline.co.nz/queenstown/
  • Spring Foot Spa– a great new spa in Queenstown. As the name suggests feet are their main focus but they also offer an array of other treatments. https://www.springspa.com/locations/new-zealand/queenstown
  • The Boat Shed– from the people behind the world famous Provisions eatery in Arrowtown, The Boat Shed offers the same level of excellent hearty fare and one of the best breakfasts in town. Overlooking the beautiful backdrop of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables, it’s perfectly located to stop in on the way to Coronet Peak. (847 Frankton Road, Frankton). 
  • The Cardrona Distillery– One of the best out-of-town excursions, a visit to the distillery is a tantalisingly educational experience. (2125 Cardrona Valley Road, Wanaka). https://www.cardronadistillery.com/
  • The Fork And Tap Ale House– Great craft beers on tap and it has awesome play area for the kids. A Perfect spot to take the kids after a day up the mountain. http://www.theforkandtap.co.nz/
  • Thrill Zone’s Kidz Club– a babysitting alternative sure to please the whole family. (53 Shotover Street, Queenstown). https://thrillzone.co.nz/
  • Wine Tastes– sure, bottle-lined walls and oversized arm chairs aren’t as dramatic as mountains and rivers, but what Queenstown’s slickest tasting room lacks in scenery, it makes up for in comfort. The bottle shop stocks more than 700 wines from around New Zealand, including Central Otago, and has more than 80 available for tasting. https://www.thewinery.co.nz/
  • EVENTS–  Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration (28 Jan 2018 – 30 Jan 2018), Arrowtown Autumn Festival (19th Apr 2018 – 25th April 2018), American Express Queenstown Winter Festival- the biggest winter party in the southern hemisphere (21st Jun 2018 – 24th Jun 2018).

 

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