Queenstown will take your breathe away. When you’re not marvelling at the soaring vistas you’ll be trying to cram as much as you can into your holiday in this lively resort town. Whether you’re here to ski, jump off a cable car into a canyon or to simply put your feet up and drink gallons of pinot noir, Queenstown will have your heart. Here are our Must Eats, Must Stay and Must Dos…
Must Eats (and drink)
Chasing a Plate’s Price Guide
$ cheap as chips under $10AUD per person
$$ won’t break the bank $20-$40AUD per person
$$$ flop out the gold card $50-$100AUD per person
42 Shotover Street, Queenstown Town Centre
Telephone +64 3 441 1232
Open 7 days, 8:30am to 5:00am
It would be sacrilegious to leave Queenstown without trying a Fergburger. This place has been serving old-school style burgers for the past 14 years and the lines down Shotover Street are testament to their popularity. So much that Fergburger are open 21 hours a day. The Fergburger with cheese is a classic, otherwise you might be tempted by the Wild Bambi featuring Fiordland deer or the Codfather, packed with golden beer-battered pieces of blue cod. Don’t be put off by the lines, call ahead and make a phone order, that way you’ll skip straight to the pick up window.
40 Shotover Street, Queenstown Town Centre
Open 7:00am to 6:00pm
Mince and cheese is the nation’s favourite pie filling. It’s a Kiwi classic. You can sample an excellent version at Fergbaker which is conveniently located next to Fergburger. If you’re after something a bit more gourmet, there’s beef cheek or lamb shoulder and kumara on offer. Their sausage roll is delicious too. While you’re here, grab a Boston Cream donut- these fluffy balls of sugar dusted deep fried dough are injected with creamy, vanilla custard and utterly irresistible.
Joe’s Garage $-$$
Searle Lane, Queenstown
Telephone +64 3 442 5282
Open 7 days, 7:00am to 4:00pm
Joe’s Garage is where those in the know head each morning to get their daily brew. Aside from great coffee, Joe’s is the place to fuel up. You’ll find pikelets, porridge and eggs served in every imaginable way but a Joe’s roll is the way to go in our opinion. Choose from fillings such as spicy bratwurst with fried onions and melted cheese or streaky bacon and a fried egg.
Marine Parade, Queenstown
Telephone +61 3 441 0450
Open 7 days, 7:30am until late
Eichardts should be on your list if you enjoy an expertly prepared cocktail. The small bar in this private hotel fills up quick in the evenings where locals and tourists alike come and sit in their cosy banquette to enjoy a gingerbread old fashioned or a glass of pinot noir. They also serve tapas if you’re after a nibble with your drink. The fireplace, convivial atmosphere and luxe surroundings will see you stay awhile.
7 Beach Street, Queenstown
Telephone +64 3 442 6768
Open 7 days from 5:00pm
If you’re looking to sample fresh seafood, then Fishbone is the place. The menu changes daily depending on the catch and whilst the restaurant is decidedly kitschy in that ‘I will put anything fish related on the walls’ kinda way, you won’t be noticing it when a plate of freshly opened Bluff oysters is put in front of you. You might find green lipped mussels, flounder, monkfish or crayfish on the menu but if it’s just a serve of classic fish and chips you want, Fishbone will deliver on that front too.
554 Frankton Road, Queenstown
Telephone +64 3 450 1090
Part hotel, bar and restaurant, Sherwood is located just outside of Queenstown centre on the road you travel in on from the airport. With a kitchen garden and orchard at their disposal, the ethos of the menu is organic, in season produce. Both the wine and cocktail list will cater to all tastes. If you’re here for dinner, a sharing style meal is encouraged with dishes falling under labels like ‘earth’, ‘water’, ‘leaf’, ‘grain’ and ‘fire’. Everything we sampled was simply prepared but vibrant in flavour with the BBQ chicken and the vegetable dishes a huge hit.
Amisfield Winery $$$
10 Lake Hayes Road, Queenstown
Telephone +64 3 442 0556 ext 1
Open 7 days, 11:30am to 8:00pm
No visit to Queenstown is complete without a long lunch at Amisfield. If you’re here in the summer, sit outside and enjoy the soaring views of Coronet Peak as you sip on pinot gris. If you’re dining in winter, try and nab a table in the main part of the dining room where beams of recycled timber and walls of local schist create an atmosphere of rugged luxury.
We suggest you trust the chef when it comes to deciding what to eat. You’ll enjoy several courses which utilise the best of the day’s ingredients. We’ve eaten tender braised beef cheek with pistachio and beetroot and hot smoked Akaroa salmon with horseradish and fennel in the winter and seared tuna with a salsa verde and pannacotta and red currants in the summer. It’s always delicious. Note that shipping of wine from the cellar door to Australia is free. The Amisfield Lowburn Terrace Riesling is especially good as are the pinot noirs.
Te Nuku, 43 Ballarat Street, Queenstown
Telephone +64 3 442 9393
Open 7 days, 12:00pm to 11:00pm
For a slightly more special night out, our pick is Rata. Josh Emmet has created a uniquely Kiwi dining room with one wall of the restaurant a photographic light installation of New Zealand forest (Rata is a native New Zealand tree). You’ll find the menu features a few whimsy but expertly executed Kiwi classics from the Southland cheese roll to the cinnamon oysters. The best of New Zealand produce is used on the plate and the food is modern and clever, but comforting. The staff are affable and the atmosphere relaxed.
There is a wide range of accommodation to suit all budgets in Queenstown. From hostels to five star hotels and everything in between. If you’re just staying a few days, the Sherwood offers atmospheric and slightly quirky rooms and suites. There’s pilates, yoga and meditation offered and the restaurant and bar are great. It’s slightly out of town though so having a car would be ideal.
For longer stays, we can’t go past Airbnb. This apartment sleeps two couples very comfortably. It’s clean, cosy and each room has an ensuite. There’s a washing machine, dryer and a drying room. It’s an easy 5 minute walk to town in one direction and a 5 minute walk to the supermarket in the other. Easily the best place we’ve stayed in Queenstown. And the host is super helpful!
There are two ski fields within an easy drive of Queenstown. Coronet Peak is 20 minutes away from Queenstown centre. There’s great on trail skiing across all abilities. The Remarkables are a 30 minute drive from the centre of town and the ski area is at a higher altitude than Coronet meaning snow conditions are sometimes better. The Remarkables has some easy chairlift access to off piste skiing. Both mountains have canteen style eateries with pies, pizzas, sandwiches, sushi and more substantial hot meals available.
Good to know:
1 day lift pass: $101 (adult)
For more information on either mountain: https://www.nzski.com/queenstown
We hire our ski gear from Browns Ski Shop. The staff are friendly and helpful and their store policy allows you to hire for however many days you think you might ski and to obtain a refund for the days that you don’t end up skiing. All you need to do is return the skis to Browns before 10:00am on the day you’re not skiing. You can then pick them up anytime after 3:00pm that same day in preparation for skiing the next day. If you intend to take more than one day off, all your gear needs to be returned. Browns also guarantee all their equipment so if you encounter any difficulties on the hill you can hire replacement gear and as long as you have a receipt, they will refund you.
Good to know:
Mid range skis and boots $48/day
Pants and jacket $35/day
Browns Ski Shop
4 Brecon Street, Queenstown
Telephone +64 (03) 442 4005
Open 7 days, 7:30am to 8:30pm
Explore Central Otago
This is one of the drives we never fail to do when we’re in this part of the world. You’ll need the whole day so we suggest leaving Queenstown at around 10:00am so you make it to the top of the Crown Range before dark. Head out of Queenstown towards Frankton and follow the Kawarau river to Wanaka. Along the way stop at the Kawarau bridge where you can watch bungy jumpers take their leap of faith off the bridge. If you’re in search of an excellent drop Chard Farm and Peregrine vineyards are worth a look in. Drive past the Roaring Meg dam and on to Old Cromwell town where it’s mandatory to stop for a cheese roll and a cup of tea at the Grain and Seed cafe.
Skip some stones on Lake Wanaka before heading to the Cardrona Hotel for a pub lunch. This pub is iconic and a MUST visit. The fish and chips are great as is the selection of beer. Sit by the fire for a couple of pints or grab a mulled wine, rug up and head outside to toast marshmallows. We guarantee you’ll find it hard to leave. But leave you must if you want to catch the light from the top of the Crown Range. The Crown Range lies between Queenstown and Wanaka and is the highest main road in New Zealand. Take in the incredible view down the valley of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables. The only word for it is spectacular.
Yes, there is actually a place called Paradise. Located 20 kilometres from Glenorchy, you drive along sealed roads for 8km and for another 12 km on unsealed roads through fiords, past grazing sheep, through forest as you enter Mt Aspiring National Park and then emerge at the edge of Diamond Lake. Mount Earnslaw towers above you as you spot small waterfalls embedded in its slopes. The river and the beds of shale are stark and grey. You feel as though you’ve reached the ends of the earth. It’s breathtaking.
You might be tempted to throw yourself off a bridge or a cable car whilst you’re here- Queenstown is the home of the first commercial bungy after all and a mecca for thrill seekers. The Kawarau Bridge bungy is the original- 43 metres off the Kawarau Bridge and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to dip your fingers (or have your whole head dunked!) in the river. The Nevis Bungy is New Zealand’s highest jump at 134 metres over the Nevis River with 8.5 seconds of free fall. It’s on private property which requires you to travel out there with the AJ Hackett team (free transport), so you will need to set aside at least 4 hours to conquer this one. Finally, the Ledge bungy is positioned at the top of the Skyline Gondola with a view over Queenstown- this bungy is quite underwhelming compared to the other two. Plus, you get a massive wedgie from the harness!!!
Having done all three, we’d recommend The Nevis Bungy. Sure, it’s rather high but it means that there’s more time to enjoy the jump and the free fall unlike the others which are over really quickly. It’s peaceful, exhilarating and you feel like you’re flying. Do it.
Good to know:
Kawarau Bridge bungy $195NZD
The Nevis bungy $275NZD
The Ledge bungy $195NZD
There are a range of combos available where you can mix and match jumps and receive a discounted rate.
Bungys can be booked online, over the phone or in Queenstown at a number of tourist operators.
If the thought of a bungy makes you want to hurl, then the luge is one to consider. Head up the gondola and jump into a luge cart which allows you to stop and start through a simple braking and steering system. The tracks are about 800m long and you can go as slow or as fast as you fancy. Once you’re done, catch the chairlift to the top of the track for another go. It’s loads of fun and for those who want a bit more heart in mouth action, there is a steeper track with tunnels, dips and banked corners.
Good to know:
Gondola and 2 luge rides $45 (adult) $34 (child)
Gondola and 3 luge rides $48 (adult) $40 (child)
Gondola and 5 luge rides $55 (adult) $45 (child)
Must be 110cm or taller to ride the leisure track and 135cm or taller to ride the advanced track.
Open 7 days from 10:00am to dusk
The best way to see Queenstown and the surrounding areas is to hire a car. Having your own set of wheels ensures you don’t miss out on the spectacular country side which surrounds Queenstown. We use Ace Rentals and have found them to be reliable and affordable. We paid $600NZD for 7 days for a four wheel drive which included full insurance (no excess or bond), roof racks, snow chains, two additional drivers and the airport location surcharge.
Taxis are abundant in Queenstown but they don’t come cheap. A 10 minute drive is likely to cost you about $20NZD.
Eftpos and credit cards are accepted everywhere. Minimum spends for card use aren’t the norm. ATMs are aplenty in Queenstown town centre.
We hope this post has been helpful. Got more questions? Comment below and we’ll get back to you!