Queenstown is New Zealand’s number one international tourist destination, but sometimes for a local, it can be easy to take it’s stunning scenery, award-winning restaurants and any-weather activity options for granted. But now with a second Pride festival (Adrenaline) announced for our bustling mountain town’s Summer – it’s time to remind yourself why the tourists flock here. With that in mind, express selects our favourite QT gems – sure to satisfy even the most regal of queens!
Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa
Gibbston Valley is a must-do for anyone visiting the region, due to its spectacular Wine Cave for atmospheric tastings from their vineyard and its sun-drenched winery restaurant that hosts Winter Pride’s Long Lunch.
However, in December 2019, Gibbston Valley expanded with a Lodge and Spa offering boutique accommodation options at their ‘villas in the vines.’ The villas are a perfect choice for couples looking to relax and really enjoy their accommodation. In the villa, you have a selection of Gibbston Valley’s wines, huge comfy beds, and one of the most lavish bathrooms you’ll ever see – a perfect spot for getting ready for a big night!
If you’re staying with friends, they can book adjoining villas and get the party started early. A stay isn’t complete without taking advantage of the daily complimentary wine tasting in the lodge’s cellar, dinner in the restaurant complete with its grand centrepiece fireplace, and by booking out the lodge’s outdoor hot tub and sauna or spectacular cinema room! Included in your stay is the option to (complimentary) book these for your own private use. Now that’s next-level luxury!
Mexican restaurant Margo’s feels more like attending a party than going to dinner. It still has that hot new place feel, despite having been open a few years and is equally adored by locals and tourists.
Last month, Margo’s unleashed a new menu, and we can confirm – it’s sublime! Do not go past the Coca-Cola BBQ Pork Ribs which come with a corn crumble and chipotle mustard. I haven’t enjoyed ribs so passionately since I was a child, they are spectacular! Pair them with the Coconut Prawns and wash down with Grizzly Beargarita (a frozen marg’ with a bottle of alcoholic ginger beer precariously posed on top) to start your night with a bang!
True South Dining Room
The Rees Hotel’s True South Dining Room is run by former Blanket Bay’s Executive Chef, Corey Hume, and his influence can be seen in every exquisitely artistic portion. Beg, steal and borrow to get a window seat overlooking the lake, and be sure to order dessert!
Corey is known for Instagramable creations like ‘The Strawberry’ – a chocolate shell, filled with Valrhona strawberry ganache montée and compote, accompanied by champagne foam, raspberry molasses, lime vanilla mascarpone, and raspberry sorbet.
Wanna feel like James Bond for 15 minutes? Then step inside a Hydro Attack!
These shark-shaped submersible vehicles glide across Lake Wakatipu at up to 80kms, until your pilot takes you ‘under’ and you zoom around beneath the surface like a torpedo until dramatically resurfacing, heading towards the sky before belly-flopping back into the water. This is a unique experience that can only be found in QT, and best of all you don’t have a drop of water on you afterward.
Queenstown Ice Bar
Built from 25 tonnes of hand-carved ice, Queenstown Ice Bar has to be seen to be believed. The staff greet you enthusiastically on the ground level where you are given super warm head-to-toe snow jackets before being taken downstairs to minus temperatures! The cocktail menu features a great selection of espresso martinis all served in glasses made of ice, and = you get to smash these when you finish! Inside the bar, the impressive ice sculptures require a closeup inspection, and if your want to do a shot, there is even a giant ice phallus to suck it out of! Not even Family Bar has one of those! Queenstownicebar.com