Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes


May 15, 2013

36 Hours in Queenstown, New Zealand

a ”town fit for a Queen”…gold prospectors

So as the worst Kiwi in New Zealand I have only been to the South Island once, 10 years ago for one night. I have travelled the world listening to fellow travellers wax lyrical about the beauty of New Zealand. Lets just say I’m more likely to be able to point out Zakopane, Tbilisi or Senj on a map before pointing out Dargaville, Queenstown or Nelson. So with the chance to spend 36 hours in Queenstown, I was off.


Even before arriving in Queenstown make sure you get yourself a window seat and get your camera at the ready because the views during descent are truly spectacular, I felt sorry for the people in their cars missing this view.


Wait there’s more


Now Queenstown itself is fairly compact and getting your bearings should be pretty easy, famous last words I know, but I would suggest first taking a stroll along the waterfront. Not only can you familiarise yourself with what’s on offer with a number of operators being in the area but from the waterfront you can catch the K Jet or Thunder Jet.


Now while Shotover Jet is undisputedly more famous (even Wills and Kate have done it) the other options have in their favour the proximity to town, lower prices and a longer trip (one hour compared to 20 minutes). I had an absolutely brilliant time on my jet boat ride with K Jet which they were kind enough to let me on even though they were already in the process of loading the jet.

We experienced 360 degree turns in the harbour and down the rivers, and I know you might complain about the cold but K Jet even has heated handrails, come on!  Though I would suggest with any of the jet boat rides to make sure you don’t have anything planned to do afterwards as there is a very high likelihood you won’t come away dry, clearly I never learnt this lesson.


If you are in Queenstown with kids or even on your own and maybe the day is not the best outside (not to brag but the weather when I was there was brilliant in September) I would go and check out the Vortex Cinema. A 12D motion theatre experience where you can race spaceships or out of control roller coasters with moving seats, wind in your hair and even get a splash or two. And don’t forget to get your pic taken with those dinosaurs.

For that iconic view of Queenstown to make all your friends green with envy head up the Skyline Gondola. Those who aren’t so good with heights face backwards as it goes 450m up to the top and it goes almost straight up. From here you can take a luge ride, bungy jump, check out a Jellybean Frodo or have a meal in one of the two restaurants all with stunning picture postcard views of the lake and mountains.


If you want to stretch your legs head along the waterfront toward the Queenstown Gardens. You can choose from a walk straight through the gardens with Rose Gardens, Tennis Courts and even a cute little bridge or taking the longer route along the Lake Wakatipu. This affords some more gorgeous views back toward Queenstown and gets you away from the hustle and bustle.

No matter what time of year you decide to visit Queenstown you can experience the cold in the Below Zero Ice Bar, and how about beating the five hour record to stay inside. Buy your cocktails or mocktails and get all rugged up before heading in to the bar to play ice hockey, sit in a ice gondola or by the not-so-roaring fire.


Out of town:

Located just 20 minutes drive, or 40 minutes on the bus, from downtown Queenstown is the gold rush town of Arrowtown. A glorious little diversion from the packed atmosphere of Queenstown and all her adventure seeking fans. It is a lovely place to browse the shops, waste away the afternoon in one of the cafes and restaurants, experience the gold rush for yourself or as I chose to do go back in time.


Located under the Lakes District Museum is Old Fashioned Costume Photography run by Karen Reid. Having studied old photos authenticity is strived for in the shots, anything modern is removed and full underskirts are donned to give the authentic look. I would definitely recommend, as someone who enjoys taking kooky photos while travelling, having a portrait or group shot taken to commemorate your trip. If they aren’t open at the time their is a photo to ring and they are happy to come down and open up for you, so don’t be discouraged if there is no one there.


I’m not strictly a foodie but there are a couple of places you can’t come to Queenstown and not try.

Fergburger is something of a Queenstown institution and the queues outside should give you a pretty good hint as to how popular it is with locals and tourists alike. The queues can get crazy so it is best if you are not in a hurry, but even with the constant crowds it is worth the wait. I had the Cock Cajun and while it takes a little longer to make it was Amazing.

Now if you need a treat after your high octane ride I would suggest strolling in to The Remarkables Sweet Shop and getting yourself some All Blacks Fudge. Seriously it is beyond amazing. Any of the fudge I had there was great, from the Coconut Rough to the Turkish Delight fudge (clearly I have little self control) but without doubt the All Blacks fudge is a firm favourite.


Travel Tips for Queenstown:

  • check out to pick up deals on activities, restaurants and attractions
  • flights are available to Queenstown direct from Australia as well as around NZ. Check out both Air NZ and Jetstar for flights within New Zealand
  • Connectabus does day passes on the bus and can transport you regularly to Arrowtown and the Airport as well as around central Queenstown

What are your favourite places in Queenstown? Have you tried the HydroAttack (I really want to)?

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