Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand with no shortage of action packed activities, from jetboating and bungy jumping to skydiving and snowboarding. However, there is also a refined side of Queenstown which caters to discerning travellers. With an impressive selection of premium accommodation, some of New Zealand’s best wineries, award-winning dining and breathtaking scenery, Queenstown in New Zealand is well-versed in the finer things in life. Here are five great Queenstown things to do for discerning travellers.
Lake Wakatipu cruise
Board the TSS Earnslaw, a steamship that is more than 100 years old, for a trip to Walter Peak Farm. Not only do you get to take in the scenery, you also get to experience life at a working sheep station. Enjoy a laugh with laconic guides during the sheep shearing show and gain an insight into the life of New Zealand farmers, both past and present. The tour finishes with a lavish morning or afternoon tea at the farm’s historic homestead. We were after something more filling and did the Walter Peak Gourmet BBQ Lunch Cruise which was so hearty and delicious that we didn’t need dinner.
Queenstown luxury hotels
Queenstown has no shortage of luxurious accommodation options. If your love of luxury is as large as your bulging wallet, try the elegant Eichardt’s Private Hotel in downtown Queenstown. Down the road you will find the Sofitel Queenstown, a five star hotel which blends French sophistication with decor that reflects the surrounding Central Otago landscape. It is home to a beautiful SoSpa Queenstown which specialises in Maori spa treatments. The Rees, a luxury hotel on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, plays host to a sophisticated wine lounge and one of the best restaurants in town. The only thing surpassing the sublime mountain views at this hotel is the food.
Queenstown is in the heart of Central Otago’s wine country with over 200 nearby vineyards to explore. It’s easy to pick up a hire car for the day in Queenstown but taking an organised tour is more fun, especially as you don’t have to drive home. It not uncommon for the winemakers themselves to give you a tutored tasting, particularly at some of the smaller vineyards. Combined with local cheeses and lunch at one of the superb vineyard restaurants, this day out is a food and wine lover’s dream.
Head to the Onsen hot pools for a hot tub with a view or, for some serious spa time, book a treatment at So Spa, a luxury spa offering treatments connected to New Zealand’s Maori culture. Facilities include a hammam steam room and reflection lounge with wispy curtains and chocolate-brown leather couches. It’s the perfect spot to unwind post-treatment with a cup of herbal tea.
Stunning local produce and an impressive selection of excellent wines ensures there is no shortage of seriously good dining to be found in Queenstown. Don’t miss long-standing favourite The Bunker, True South Dining Room, Botswana Butchery and Rata, all of which serve upmarket local fare. If you indulge in too much of that fabulous Central Otago wine, follow the locals to Joe’s Garage for a hangover-busting breakfast.
Disclosure: The writer travelled as a guest of Queenstown Tourism.
Are you heading to Wellington while you’re in New Zealand? We had a great time staying at the Grand Mercure Wellington, and QT Museum Wellington. We also went on a Seal Safari and spent the night at the nearby wine region of Martinborough.