New Zealand’s biggest international tourism destination has bounced back from border closures like nowhere else in the country and has set ambitious plans for regenerative tourism and a carbon-zero visitor economy by 2030. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures or New Zealand’s capital of culinary treats – Queenstown has it all!

Top Attractions

Amisfield Restaurant & Cellar Door

Amisfield is quickly becoming one of Queenstown’s biggest draw cards. As New Zealand’s reigning Restaurant of the Year (a title it’s held for so long it’s easy to forget there were previous winners), it doesn’t look like it will be relinquishing that crown any time soon. Executive Chef Vaughan Mabee just last month became the first New Zealander to secure a prestigious spot in the world’s Top 100 Best Chefs list. Vaughan (who previously worked at Denmark’s world-renowned Noma restaurant) comes out of the kitchen and introduces himself to every table the night we dine at Amisfield. His star power is palpable; the New York Times is dining at the table to our right, and food critics from the BBC are at the table to our left.


The menus are a set degustation of roughly twenty tiny courses, all theatrically presented to evoke scenes from misty southland moors to lush northland rainforest – all sustainably sourced from a small group of hunters, fishermen, farmers, and foragers. The wait staff weave in and out, clearing plates and producing new dishes with choreographed precision, and yet our dining experience never feels too formal or stuffy. For one course, we are even asked to leave our table and venture outside to watch it prepared and subsequently devoured in the crisp night air next to a roaring open-log fire. It is easily the most memorable dining experience available on our shores.

Hitting the slopes

Queenstown’s ‘remarkable’ mountain ranges are a breathtaking sight that never gets old (despite being, ironically, ancient). Cardrona still offers the best skiing and snowboarding experience in Aotearoa and is leading the way in sustainability with waterproof trail maps created from stone, zero-waste policies, and restaurants that only recycle and use no landfill. If you are staying in central Queenstown and don’t have time for the 90-minute drive to Cardrona, then Coronet Peak and The Remarkable are closer options, and both are focused on reducing emissions by 50% this year, including swapping out their diesel-fuelled transportation fleet for electric. All three ski fields work closely with QT’s annual Winter Pride festival – offering ‘onesie days,’ flag parades,’ and ‘night skis,’ as well as fabulous apres’ ski drinks with local DJs.

The Winter Pride Festival

2024 dates are now locked in from Thursday, 22 August, to Sunday, 1 September, for Winter Pride, which remains the mountain town’s only LGBTQ-focused festival. It offers pulsating high-production dance parties and fun-themed events every evening, and with new local owners taking Winter Pride over in 2024, expect to see some fresh new offerings added to the festival’s packed schedule.

Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa

The trick with attending Winter Pride is not to indulge too much at the dance parties and leave QT more exhausted than when you arrived. The best way to avoid this is to book two nights at Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa to close out your holiday. We booked one night, but with all the world-class amenities on offer at Gibbston, it just didn’t feel like quite enough. For a start, you’ll want to relax in your plush villa, which overlooks the vines and features a luxurious large bathtub and bed. From there, book one of the Lodge’s outdoor hot tubs for your own private use (complimentary with your stay) and enjoy a glass of wine or two while watching the sunset across the valley. Have dinner at the Lodge’s stunning restaurant with a locally sourced melt-in-the-mouth menu from Executive Chef Al Wilson, and enjoy your dessert in the Lodge’s private cinema, which you can again book privately for you and your friends (incredibly complimentary with your stay).

The next day, we recommend returning to the restaurant for an à la carte breakfast (the homemade granola is a must) followed by exploring the vineyard. Gibbston Valley offers winery tours and wine tasting complimentary with your stay, and be sure to check out the atmospheric wine cave, where some of their most spectacular vintages are cellared!

Essential Visits

Odd Saint

You know a restaurant is good when it survives opening during the pandemic. Odd Saint has become Queenstown’s go-to breakfast and brunch spot, with great coffee and delicious big ‘soul food’ portions that can easily be shared. Locals highly recommend the hangover-curing cocktails and popular smash burgers.

Yoga Sangha

When snow season is in full swing, massages for aching muscles can get booked out pretty quickly, but hot yoga sessions can be an effective and affordable alternative. Yoga Sangha offers far-infrared-heated sessions ideal for relieving tight, overworked muscles and joints, and it’s conveniently tucked away in the industrial area, just a few minutes drive from the CBD.

QT Queenstown

If you’re looking for a lakeside stay, check out the QT Queenstown, which opened in 2017 with 69 (lol) rooms. All of QT’s locations in New Zealand have a young, funky, modern feel. QT Queenstown offers exceptional service, and all their staff seemed genuinely excited about having the Winter Pride festival in town! From our room on Level Six, Lake Wakatipu looks so close you feel like you can touch it! That aesthetic continues at Restaurant Red, where breakfast is served, and the far corner table feels like it’s practically suspended over the water.

Lil Red, QT Hotel

For dinner, we ate at the QT’s new restaurant, Lil Red, which features the best value degustation menu in town. Lil Red specialises in wonderful and, at times, weirdly rich dishes that pack flavours as bold as the decor. You won’t go hungry!

Nature Walks:

Our top three recommendations for the most beautiful walks we have found around Queenstown are all accessible in all seasons and cater to a variety of fitness levels! Bob’s Cove (15 min drive from QT) is a 90-minute loop trail that circles the lake. Stop at the old lime kiln and jetty for great selfies with the lake and surrounding mountains. The Lake Hayes Walkway is a stunning two-hour hike near Arrowtown, where you will find mirror-like reflections in the lake on still days. The Moke Lake walk is a 15-minute drive out of Queenstown on the Glenorchy Highway. With very little light pollution, this is a perfect two-hour walk for the early evenings, when you can see the stars come out. Finally, in autumn, don’t miss Tobin’s Track, which takes you along Arrowtown’s River surrounded by gorgeous red, yellow, and orange foliage.

Canyon Brewing

This brewery is a fabulous spot for a post-trek pint, with lovely views over the Shotover River – you can watch the Shotover jet go spinning past! Indulge in one of their ‘flights,’ where you can include options of mulled wine and cider as well as beers brewed on-site. The beers are made using barley that Canyon Brewing grows locally to ensure the consistency of their beer and to reduce their carbon footprint. Refreshing!

The Bunker

I first went to the bunker for dinner on my 23rd birthday, just after a long sabbatical inter-railing around Europe. My companion and I sat there astounded that the meal we had was better than anything we had tried in Europe, and 18 years later, The Bunker still sets that benchmark! Embarrassingly, even when we planned to go in for a light bite, the Bunker’s Taste of the South degustation menu is so enticing – we still ended up opting for it! Executive Chef Ben Norfolk presents expertly cooked flavours from throughout the South Island, including Bannockburn hare and West Coast paua. Get merry with the stunning selection of matching wines, and finish your evening upstairs at The Bunker’s late-night cocktail bar – the most happening joint in town!

The Bunker

Indulgent Alternatives

Hulbert House

Hulbert House is a boutique hotel in a historic Victorian villa built in 1888, located in the centre of Queenstown, offering six charming rooms that combine contemporary luxury with historical elegance. This is not the accommodation for you if you are coming to Queenstown to party, but if you are looking for tranquil, plush, ornate opulence to celebrate a special occasion – book it and arrive to pre-dinner drinks and canapés, and depart with a divine breakfast served on willow-pattern crockery with antique silver cutlery.

Hulbert House

Dart River Jet Boat & Funyaks

If you like to celebrate a special occasion with a spirit of adventure set in the most majestic, unspoilt scenery only accessible by jet boat – then Dart River Jet Boat & Funyaks is the perfect full-day activity for you. Starting your day with the picturesque drive into Glenorchy, jet boats then transport you up the Dart River into Mt Aspiring National Park. The aluminium jet boats can glide at speed through the shallowest, most crystal-clear waters. As we hold on to the heated handrails, the captain spins the boat, sending exhilarating waves across the river.

Dart River Adventures
Dart River Adventures

The near-90km journey is the longest jet boat ride in the region. At its conclusion, we stop for lunch in a secluded spot while our guides set up the funyaks (inflatable canoes) that will carry us back downstream, where our journey began. Supporting Queenstown’s bid for regenerative tourism, Dart River operators Ngāi Tahu are in the process of electrifying their jet boats, helping to ensure that the area remains pristine.

Little Mez

After all the exhilaration, we calm our nerves at Queenstown’s first agaveria – a cocktail bar dedicated to tequila and mezcal! Little Mez is brought to you by the same people who crafted popular Mexican restaurant Margo’s, and it quickly becomes our favourite Queenstown hangout. A cool, dark interior is warmed by friendly, knowledgeable staff and exceptional cocktails. We love the Pineapple Barbacoa (which is infused with the smoke of burned rosemary) and the sharp, herbaceous The Last Amigo, which boasts stomach-settling kawakawa liqueur. If you get hungry, the bar also boasts some of Margo’s most popular small dishes, like the Coconut Tempura Prawns, and the Coca-Cola BBQ Ribs.


If you’re in the mood for a bigger bite, head upstairs to Queenstown’s always-busy Mexican institution, Margo’s. The vibrant dishes are bursting with colour and flavour, perfectly complementing the restaurant’s fiesta-like atmosphere. Get the party started with tequila, a frozen margarita chaser, and don’t go past the Beef Brisket Carnitas Nachos and Apricot Pastor Glazed Pork Belly Fajitas when browsing the food menu. Arriba!

YOUR ex’s visit was supported by Destination Queenstown