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!
Oaks Queenstown Shores Resort
Nothing is more special than having a view over Lake Wakatipu when you stay in Queenstown, so it’s unsurprising that accommodations with those views have a premium price tag. But when we were searching Booking.com for a bargain, we came across the Oaks Queenstown Shores Resort which mirrors the offerings of some of QT’s most expensive accommodations at a more reasonable rate.
We stayed in their new building that only opened this year. It was spotlessly clean and boasted a vast balcony (big enough to have a dinner party on) with uninterrupted views of the lake. Located away from QT’s congested centre, you can take a very pretty 15-minute lakeside walk into town or catch the complimentary shuttle bus with drivers that know every shortcut to avoid traffic. Oakshotels.com
express once called The Bunker, ‘Queenstown’s best-kept secret’ – but, as their recent dining room expansion shows – the secret is out! Now with double the capacity, if you have struggled to book a table here before, it’s time to try again. The Bunker may be bigger but its intimate fire-side dining and classic gentlemen’s club atmosphere remains.
The menu is spectacular, offering South Island-sourced produce and game including spectacular smoked Canterbury ostrich (served in an ostrich egg shell) and wild Bannockburn hare. The night we attend, most diners opt for the stunning value of the eight-course degustation menu with matching wines, before heading upstairs for a nightcap at The Bunker’s late-night cocktail bar.
A visit to Cuisine’s 2022 Restaurant of the year is a must – but you will need a booking. A staff member told us, he had to book in September to take his girlfriend for lunch in November! If you can’t wait two months, perhaps consider a Bespoke Private Wine Tasting. We did one and got to try twelve of Amisfield’s fine vintages while being guided through our tasting by a well-versed Cellar Door team member who originated from Champagne, France. Our tasting was conducted in Amisfield’s gorgeous private dining room overlooking their vineyard, which felt very special. Combined with our host’s French accent – we left after purchasing far more bottles than planned!
No Queenstown trip is complete without a jaunt to picturesque Arrowtown which boasts fabulous walks and quaint shops that feel like you are stepping back in time. On the way back into QT it’s worth checking out Gin Garden, a great spot for a snack and a gin tasting! We did a flight of Broken Heart’s gin range which includes your choice of three plus a mixer and complimented that with baked blue camembert. A fun and decadent way to end the day!
Cardrona, The Remarkables, and Coronet Peak are Queenstown’s best-known ski slopes and a pilgrimage for gnarly snowboarders, but for a more ‘European’ experience, try Wanaka’s Snow Farm – the only ski fields dedicated to cross-country skiing.
More sophisticated than the slaloms, with a lot less adrenaline, enjoy a romantic glide through the snow together, chatting and appreciating the scenery. It’s not hard to see why so many proposals happen here – generally outside the Bob Lee hut overlooking Mount Aspiring. Snowfarm.nz