7 August 2012 by Alex Stewart
Wexas Online editor Alex Stewart uncovers Queenstown on New Zealand's South Island and discovers that there isn't a bad time to visit. With extraordinary landscapes to explore and non-stop outdoor activities to enjoy, the town lays claim to being the world's finest adventure playground. Throw in award-winning wineries and superb restaurants, luxurious places to stay and service second-to-none and there's really little reason not to go.
The Rees Hotel
A short drive from the centre of Queenstown, this chic, luxury hotel overlooks Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand's longest lake. The rooms and apartments are modern, smartly designed and spacious, with full-length windows that afford spectaular views. Hotel features include a fine-dining restaurant and extensive wine cellar, spa treatment room, and private jetty.
377 Frankton Road
A stunning Relais & Chateau property offering luxury accommodation in just 11 designer suites, each with a private terrace looking out over dramatic lake and mountain vistas. Evening meals are tailored to suit guests' tastes and there's a day spa, state-of-the-art fitness centre, sauna and outdoor infinity pool in which to relax.
Farrycroft Row, 569 Glenorchy Road
Conveniently located in the centre of Queenstown, The Dairy was originally a 1920s corner shop but has now been converted into a boutique hotel with 13 en suite rooms, a private library and lounge area complete with open fire and bar. Outside is a spa pool.
10 Isle Street
This exclusive hotel has finely designed apartments of 1 to 4 bedrooms, including spacious penthouse suites; the largest suite comes complete with its own gym and sauna, as well as private cinema and a balcony with a barbecue and spa pool. Guests can enjoy personalised service, outstanding facilities, a fitness centre, complimentary parking and child care services.
Cnr Stanley and Beetham Streets
Chefs are drawn to Queenstown by the abundance of fresh produce; eat at the Waterfront, Queenstown's leading fine dining restaurant, to taste these ingredients prepared to perfection. Sample the ten course Chef's Degustation Menu, with perfectly matched wines, and admire the stunning waterside location. A culinary must.
Beach St, Steamer Wharf
An award winning restaurant celebrated for for its Victorian decor, impressive views of the Remarkables and stylish menu, Megs delivers. Try the Rack of Canterbury Lamb for the quintessential Queenstown experience; after all the energy expended during the day you'll deserve it.
53 Shotover Street
Gantley's is a fancy, French-influenced restaurant in an old inn dating from 1863, that's just a short distance outside Queenstown. Surrounded by two acres of landscaped gardens, the restaurant is romantically sited and lives up to its reputation as one of the country's finest; it also has an award-winning wine list.
172 Arthurs Point Road
Just north of Queenstown is the Gibbston Valley wine district, home to more than 75 wineries. Vist the area and follow the Wine Trail to see producers such as the Gibbston Valley Winery, where you can tour their underground cave, savour special vintages and taste cheeses produced onsite, or Waitiri Creek Wines, where you can take a guided tour and sample the carefully crafted wines; specialities of the region include Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Reisling.
Speights Ale House
This down-to-earth watering hole, in a converted court chambers, is the place to come to try the Speight tap beers. Enjoy lunch in their beer garden or catch the big game with a tasty, distinctive drink.
Cnr Stanley and Ballarat Street
Eichardt's House Bar
A Queenstown icon since 1867, Eichardt's is an atmospheric hotel with a colonial facade and an intimate, cosy ground floor bar full of ambience and history. Drink in the sublime views of the lake and mountains whilst enjoying cocktails created by skilled bartenders or try the fine wines sourced locally.
Queenstown is New Zealand's adrenaline capital and there are a host of options available for raising your pulse rate and challenging your comfort zone. In summer trek or mountain bike through the surrounding mountains. Try skydiving, hang gliding or bungee jumping, which was pioneered here; leap off the Kawarau Bridge for an authentic experience. Alternatively, go canyoning, jet boating on the Shotover River, or kayaking and rafting on the Dart River.
Lake Wakatipu is home to quantities of rainbow trout, brown trout and quinnat salmon, which can be caught year-round. Purchase a fishing license, hire some kit and employ a guide to show you the best spots. Otherwise go golfing, cruise over the scenery in a hot air balloon, enjoy a 4WD adventure through Skippers Canyon or take a Lord of the Rings tour to see some of the landscapes featured in the film.
Queenstown is sensational in winter (June to October), when the mountains are covered in snow and the skifields are open for action. Skiers and snowboarders are spoiled for choice with great runs on Coronet Peak, the Remarkables and close by in Wanaka. Take a day trip to Cardrona and Treble Cone or go heli-skiing in search of backcountry and fresh powder. You won't be disappointed.
For a differnt viewpoint, take a cruise on Lake Wakatipu; the historic twin-screw steamship TSS Earnslaw, the last of the lake steamers, is an enduring Queenstown icon. First launched in 1912, this gracefully restored boat was the largest and surely the most stately to sail on the lake; take a trip to relive the elegance of turn-of-the-century travel.
Take time to stroll along the waterfront at sunrise or dusk and admire the breathtaking view, with the surrounding mountains and Alpine scenery reflected in the gin-clear mirror of Lake Wakatipu. Watch the historic steamship TSS Earnslaw dock, wander through the Queenstown Gardens and revel in the location.
There are a number of wonderful walks in spectacular scenery easily accessible from Queenstown; a lakeside option is the Frankton Arm, a flat three mile tramp with good views of the Remarkables. More challenging though is the ascent of Queenstown Hill, which takes around three hours return but rewards you with stuning views from the summit. if you don't fancy the hike, take the Skyline Gondola to the top for picture postcard views.