As I had stated before, I had high hopes for Queenstown. I love the mountains (why can’t St. Louis have them?!), and every picture I had seen of the town, the mountains, and Lake Wakatipu all looked amazing. Well the town certainly did not disappoint in my opinion. Tim and I both wished we had left Rotorua earlier so we had more time in Queenstown. There’s just so much to do in the area that you could easily spend a week there and still need more time.
We stayed at the Mecure Queenstown Resort Hotel right between Queentown’s downtown and Fernhill. We wish we would have been put in a hotel closer to the town’s center, but it only took about 20 minutes to walk into the town center, so it ended up not being a big deal. The hotel had an observation deck that looked over the lake, and we also lucked out with a great view! Psst: The panoramic pictures get bigger if you click on them!
The first day there we spent getting acquainted with the town. The town is so easy to walk around, which we did quite a bit during the three days we spent there. And the fact that it sits on Lake Wakatipu makes it so much more enjoyable. We headed up the gondolas just like we had in Rotorua, except we didn’t go on the luge. It was 45-55 degrees while we were there, so it was a bit colder than Auckland and Rotorua. The views were amazing! There’s a few hiking trails up behind the Skyline attraction, which we explored a bit. There’s one that goes to the Ben Lomond summit, which I would have liked to do if we had gotten there earlier in the day. It’s recommended to allow 5 hours to hike that trail, which we didn’t have before the sunset.
We went to Doubtful Sound during our second day in Queenstown. It will have it’s own post, but it was incredible. Seeing the fjords was right up there with White Island on our trip highlights list.
Other than a trip to Doubtful Sound and Skyline, we didn’t really plan anything during our time in Queenstown. We wanted to enjoy our time and take in the town. We hung out by the lake, walked around the gardens, and enjoyed lots of food and drinks.
I kept the Canyon Swing in the back of my mind, but in Tim’s words: “I don’t want to finish the vacation alone.” So instead, we took a jet boat ride with KJet. The jackets we wore over our clothes made me feel like a penguin. The ride was about an hour long, complete with 360 degree spins.
Since we didn’t plan for much while in Queenstown, we were able to take advantage of happy hours and trying a new place for almost every meal. We hit up the infamous FergBurger after our trip to the fjords. I don’t think we ever saw a time that there wasn’t a line out the door, but service is quick so we didn’t have to wait long. We were actually able to split a burger and a half order of calamari between the two of us. Monty’s was a favorite pub, as well as Pub on Wharf. Unfortunately there weren’t enough meals for us to eat, so we didn’t get to a couple of restaurants on our list, like Vudu Cafe. There’s a full list of places we ate below. We did, however, find out that if you go to the Visitor’s Center, there are coupons for free drinks at a couple different pubs in town. You know we took advantage of that!
My overall opinion on Queenstown: Loved it! This was our favorite city we visited over the two weeks. It reminded me very much of Colorado—the architecture style, an outdoorsy town, young vacationers, lots to do. If we had more time, I would have liked to visit Arrowtown or Wanaka, rented bikes and rode the surrounding trails, or visited some wineries in the surrounding areas. Oh, and I probably would have gone on the Canyon Swing :) Link to all things Queenstown here!
Places we ate/drank:
– Monty’s / A favorite pub of ours to have a drink. Has a great patio and a fireplace inside for when it got cold. Seemed to be liked by locals as well.
– Pig & Whistle / I think the same as the one in Rotorua, but a slightly different menu if I remember.
– Fergburger / Everyone visiting Queenstown has to go at least once. Don’t let the long line scare you away!
– Lick Dessert Bar / Gelato!
– Pub on Wharf / Only had drinks here, but we liked the vibe. A nicer bar, had an acoustic duo one night. Free wifi!
– Post Office Cafe / Had breakfast here one morning—it was good! Nice patio area outside. I personally love the logo’s icon…it’s clever!
– Winnie’s Pizza / Tim and I both loved our pizza from here! Highly recommend.
– Joe’s Garage / Had breakfast here. The entrance is a bit hidden, but very nice staff and has good food.