By Alisha Lockie
Bungy-jumping, ziplining, the Shotover Jet, the luge and snow sports – these are just a few of the activities that are sure to come to mind for anyone when thinking about Queenstown. While the title of “Adventure Capital of the World” is truly well earned for Queenstown and Wanaka Lakes District, there is so much more to this beautiful region.
For adventure junkies this region is clearly not to be missed, however, if good food and wine, beautiful landscapes and pampering are more up your alley then Queenstown should be top of your NZ bucket list.
Set on the shores of the pristine Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the snow-capped Southern Alps, Queenstown has a lot to offer in the way of scenery, and there is truly no bad time to go. The town of Queenstown is a small alpine-style town with an eclectic international flavour.
Wanaka, on the shores of Lake Wanaka and the gateway to the Mt Aspiring National Park, is often compared to a yesteryear version of Queenstown, with many enjoying it’s quieter and more laid-back vibe reminiscent of Queenstown twenty years ago.
In the summer cool off with a dip in the chilly waters of the lakes, and in the winter make the most of world-class ski fields with one of the longest ski seasons in the Southern Hemisphere. In Autumn, you can expect brightly coloured landscapes of red, copper and gold. Spring is well known for its crisp clear days and fresh alpine air. If you’re a fan of the changing seasons you will find them here.
For foodies, each season has it’s highlights – in the cold months of winter there is nothing like enjoying a steaming hot chocolate from Patagonia Chocolate while looking out over the clear waters of Lake Wakatipu, and in Autumn you can’t go wrong matching your drink to the landscape with a glass of Central Otago pinot noir. Summer is excellent for gorgeous fresh, sun-ripened stone fruits, and any time of year is ideal for sampling a famous “Ferg Burger” or a visit to one of the Gibbston Valley’s world-class wineries.
The wine region of Otago is just begging to be explored by bike, you can do cycling day trips from Queenstown through the Gibbston Valley stopping to taste the region’s finest offerings. If you fancy a challenge why not check out the famous beauty of the Otago Rail Trail, a 150km cycleway that stretches along an old railway between Clyde and Middlemarch. The trail is famous for natural beauty, quaint towns, interesting history and of course some excellent country cafes, pubs and wineries.
If you like your foodie experiences with a view then a sunset dinner cruise on the Lake will go down a treat. A meal up at the Stratosphere restaurant located high above Queenstown after some fun on the luge and a spectacular gondola is also an experience not to be missed.
If you’d prefer to stay put and soak up the scenery while indulging in some quality pampering and relaxation time you will be spoilt for choice in Queenstown. I would highly recommend a visit to the Onsen Hot Pools, home to private cedar-lined hot tubs overlooking spectacular views of the Shotover Canyon.
Entry includes a snack and your choice of alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage to be enjoyed while you soak in the pools (and the scenery), and whether you go during the day or evening you will not be disappointed. During the day the views of the canyon and river below are truly breath-taking and at night lay back in your tub while you watch for shooting stars.
Queenstown has rightly earned its reputation for adventure, but for those looking to relax and enjoy the finer things in life, you will be well and truly spoilt for choice in this scenic gem of a destination.