24 Hours in Queenstown
Be ready to seize the day in Queenstown, because New Zealand’s adventure capital doesn’t stop for anyone.
- June 2018
Start your day in this South Island alpine town with a walk. Wake up your body and mind with a 500-metre climb up the Queenstown Hill Walkway (also called Time Walk) to photograph the sunrise igniting 360-degree views. It is a pretty demanding walk, but the views – Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables, Cecil Peak, Walter Peak, to name a few – make it worth the sweat. The walk is easily accessed from the city centre, starting from Belfast Street, and is a two- to three-hour return trip.
Vudu Café opens in new window is a worthy reward after a morning’s exertions. A Queenstown institution since 1997, the Beach Street café is known for serving up fresh, local, organic breakfasts (from 7.30am) and coffee. Favourites include homemade muesli with poached fruit, grilled haloumi with poached free-range eggs, or for a real treat (given your physical endeavours so far this morning, you deserve it!) tuck into French toast with grilled banana, crispy free-farmed bacon and maple syrup.
The view is so good it has to be seen twice. Take the Skyline Gondola opens in new window – the Southern Hemisphere’s steepest – up to Bob’s Peak and enjoy 220-degree panoramic views along with a cup of coffee on the viewing platform. This being Queenstown, with an adventure around every corner, take a chairlift even further up the hill and luge back to the Skyline complex if you feel the need for a little speed. There are several ways off Bob’s Peak: adventure-lovers can tandem paraglide or mountain bike, or if you want to take your time to breathe in the views, a 1.5 hour walk down the mountain is just the ticket.
A favourite local lunch spot, the Boatshed Café & Bistro opens in new window is an easy 10-minute drive from town on the Frankton Marina lakefront. The Boatshed is housed in the restored New Zealand Railways Shipping Office and it’s difficult to choose what’s more enticing: the lakeside views or the delicious, locally sourced mussels and classics with a twist, such as roasted beetroot salad with Pinot Noir syrup. Fuel up – you’re going to need it!
Jet boating opens in new window is an iconic Queenstown adventure, and as it’s a Kiwi invention, what better way to experience a ride than in the mother country. The 75-kilometre Shotover River is a fast-flowing stretch with plenty of rapids but a ride on a jet boat isn’t just an adrenaline fix: it’s a great way to access landscapes that escape the view of most visitors, and local drivers are knowledgeable about the geology and history of the area.
If speed isn’t your style, visit Walter Peak High Country Farm opens in new window to get a taste of station life. Get to the farm on the TSS Earnslaw, a vintage steamship that has been operating since 1912. The steamship travels to Lake Wakatipu’s south-western shores to Walter Peak, where visitors are met by a farm host before setting off on a walking tour of the farm (kids will love the shearing demonstration) and winding down with afternoon tea at the Colonel’s Homestead.
Fishbone opens in new window has been Queenstown’s favourite seafood restaurant for 21 years and was recently named among New Zealand’s best restaurants in Cuisine magazine’s 2016 Good Food Guide. Appropriately located on Beach Street, Fishbone is full of fish-themed decor and a casual, laid-back atmosphere. Choose from a menu of freshly caught South Island fish and seafood; if the decision is too hard, opt for a classic seafood platter for a taste of everything including oysters, mussels, clams, scallops and crayfish.
There’s no shortage of places to rest from adventure-filled days. Hulbert House Boutique opens in new window Lodging reopened in June and has been lovingly restored to its former opulent Victoria Villa magnificence, with views overlooking Lake Wakatipu. Touted as a ‘community hotel’, Sherwood is also a breath of fresh air from standard hotels. Located on three acres of alpine hillside overlooking Lake Wakatipu, Sherwood opens in new window features a variety of rooms, daily yoga classes at an on-site studio, and a fruit, vegetable and herb garden that feeds directly into the kitchen. There’s also a ski and bike workshop, as well as a dual slalom bike track.