Nestled on the shores of the crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand’s stunning Queenstown is surrounded by majestic mountains and beautiful scenery around every corner. Whether you’re looking for a holiday full of adventure, hiking or indulgent gastronomy, Queenstown has you covered in all seasons.
Where to brunch & get caffeinated
One of Queenstown’s most loved brunch spots for locals and tourists alike is Vudu Café and Larder, conveniently located on the banks of Lake Wakatipu. Here you can feast on sumptuous brunch dishes like French toast pudding teamed with maple apple and carrot, vanilla custard, lemon mascarpone and walnut crumble or a pumpkin, kumara and cavolo nero hash served with seasonal greens, poached eggs, caper aioli and hot smoked salmon. Meals are substantial and the All Press Coffee is rich and smooth. There’s no better place to soak up the sunshine on a sunny day with a flat white or two. And don’t go home without taking away their signature carrot cake.
Over on Searle’s Lane, Joe’s Garage is equally famous amongst the locals and is renowned for its excellent coffee and delicious breakfasts. True to its name the laid back café has a garage style setting and a fun, upbeat atmosphere. Favourites on Joe’s menu include the spicy bratwurst, served in a warmed Joes roll, ‘the local’ -Joes take on the big breakfast with streaky bacon, two free range eggs, toast, tomato, mushrooms, smashed spuds and sausages- and the ‘gorgeous george’ smashed spuds topped with bacon, eggs and hollandaise. A local favourite since 2000, Joe’s Garage is also open for dinner.
Nestled in the hills of Queenstown, just below the Skyline is another Queenstown favourite, the Bespoke Kitchen. Upon entering the café, be prepared for your taste buds to be tantalised by a delicious selection of freshly baked cakes, pastries and savouries filling the front counter. Bespoke Kitchen is all about healthy, wholesome food and focuses on organic, unprocessed and local ingredients. Think chickpea flour crispy pancakes with spiced tomato, braised eggplant, almond ricotta and cherry tomato raita or the potato, turmeric, spring onion and
zucchini hash served with fried egg and tamarind chutney. There’s also an outdoor fire to keep you warm in winter.
Where to eat
No trip to Queenstown is complete without eating at Ferg Burger, a gourmet burger joint which has not only developed a cult following in New Zealand, but the world! Affectionately known by locals as ‘Ferg’s’, it first opened in 2011 as a hole in the wall but as its popularity rose it expanded into a larger premises in Shotover Street. Follow the crowds to the inevitable queue and feast on one of their delicious burgers. Favourite are the Ferg Burger Deluxe (prime New Zealand beef, streaky bacon, Cheddar Cheese, sweet dill pickle, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli and tomato relish), the Little Lamby (Prime New Zealand lamb, mint jelly, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli, tomato relish), and the Sweet Bambi (Wild Fiordland deer with a Thai plum chutney, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli). But to be honest, you can’t really go wrong with any selection. After all ‘in ferg burger we trust’. A queue is inevitable but Ferg’s functions like a well oiled machine so it moves quickly.
Just next door is Ferg’s sweeter sister Fergbaker, where you can enjoy freshly baked breads, pastries, cakes and the best pies in town. Choose from a delicious selection of freshly made pies with the flakiest pastry ever including lamb shank, pork belly, portobello mushroom and venison. And for the ice cream lovers, Mrs Ferg is just next door.
For delicious pizza and pasta, make a bee line to the Cow Pizza and Spaghetti House, hidden away in Cow Lane. The Cow is a Queenstown institution and has recently celebrated its 40th birthday. This is the place to come for delicious hand rolled pizzas and pasta. It has an intimate cosy and rustic atmosphere and is the perfect spot to enjoy hearty food by a roaring fire.
Venture a little bit further afield to the picturesque Arrowtown (about a 15 minute drive from central Queenstown) and you’ll find The Chop Shop, a café which is filled with vintage quirk and upcycling material. The brunch and lunch menu is influenced by Asian cuisine so you can expect fusion twists on classics like pork belly Japanese pancakes, fluffy baos and crispy duck salad. On our visit we had the French toast topped generously with poached stone fruits and mascarpone. Delicious! The Coffee Supreme coffee is perfect too.
Where to have a drink
Queenstown is buzzing with pubs, clubs and wine bars. Atlas is a firm favourite with locals and visitors and is Queenstown’s home of craft beer. Located on the bank of Steamer Wharf, it’s the perfect spot to kick back, relax and ogle at the stunning lake views. Atlas has a whopping 22 beer varieties on tap including the local Altitude Brewers, Emerson’s, Tuatara, Coopers – and their always changing guest taps. Tasting paddles (with tasting notes) are also available as well as simple pub fare. For non beer fans, rest assured there are plenty of other options including local New Zealand wines, world whiskeys, and ciders.
For wine and whiskey lovers, think no further than Bardeaux, a small cave like bar in the heart of Queenstown. This is the perfect place for a date night with plush leather armchairs and a cosy fire-place. There is a great range of pinots,vintage champagnes and wines on offer. Bar Up and the Bunker are also are also great options for a cocktail in Queenstown.
Don’t miss sights and activities
Queenstown is a nature and adventure lovers paradise with a wide range of activities to keep you busy in all seasons.
Spend the day exploring the town with a walk around the shops, Lake Wakatipu and the picturesque Queenstown gardens, a perfect spot for a picnic or a round of frisbee golf. Hop aboard TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship and cruise across scenic Lake Wakatipu while reliving the elegance of a bygone era. Or for the ultimate relaxation, take a dip in the Onsen Hot Spas.
The Skyline is a must visit when in Queenstown. Experience a gondola ride up the peak for spectacular 220-degree views over Queenstown, Coronet Peak, the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu. There’s also plenty of activities to do at the top of the mountain including paragliding walking trails, mountain biking tracks and great dining options. Take another chairlift up to the luge track further up the mountain and steer your own three-wheeled luge cart down the mountain.
World-renowned for its adventure activities, Queenstown is home to a huge range of adventure sports including sky diving, bungee jumping, white water rafting, jet boating and many more. For the ultimate adventure activity don’t miss the world-famous Nevis Swing and Bungee (not for the faint hearted). There’s also plenty of hiking trails available for beginners to advanced hikers.
In the winter months, Queenstown transforms into world class skiing and alpine activities.
Best Day Trips Out of Queenstown
- Visit Glenorchy and Mount Aspiring National Park, set amongst stunning ancient beech forests
- Drive to Lake Wanaka via the Crowne Range – stop for a beer at Cardrona Hotel
- Go on a Lord of the Rings Tour
- Discover the rich history of former gold mining town Arrowtown
- Explore Central Otago’s Wine Country with a trip to Gibbston, Cromwell and Bannockburn
- Visit Milford Sound, one of the seven wonders of the world
WHERE TO STAY
QT Queenstown ($$$) Hotel accommodation in the heart of Queenstown with views of Lake Wakatipu.
A 430 Brunswick Street, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand
Azur Lodge ($$$$) Overlooking mountains and Lake Wakatipu, this swanky lodge is 4 km from the centre of Queenstown
A 23 Mackinnon Terrace, Sunshine Bay, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand
Villa Del Lago ($$$) This upmarket apartment hotel bordering Lake Wakatipu offers panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
A 249 Frankton Rd, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand
HOW TO GET THERE
Queenstown Airport is a 10 – 15 drive from central Queenstown.
I love flying Jetstar since they have affordable, accessible and quick flights direct to Queenstown and many other locations throughout the world.To check out Jetstar’s everyday low fares or to book your next Jetstar getaway visit www.jetstar.com.
I partnered with Jetstar for this trip to Queenstown.
Great review Lisa and very handy. Have been to Queenstown four times (love the place) and am always conflicted on where to eat. Am heading there again this Christmas, so will print this up now and read again before the big trip.
Thanks John! So nice to hear from you. Hope you have been keeping well? It was my first time visiting New Zealand and loved it so much, could easily live there. Have to go back for longer next time. Hope you enjoy these places, there’s also Slow Cuts in Arrowtown which is meant to be great too 🙂
Will check them out. I proposed in Queenstown, so the place has some major significance. I would also love to live in New Zealand. I don’t mind Queenstown, but think Wanaka is brilliant. Visit the town if you haven’t already.
Oh wow must have special significance! Wanaka is great too, I would love to go further north next time too 🙂
Thank you for strengthening my argument for visiting New Zealand ASAP! Looks like you had gorgeous weather as well – what a beautiful trip!
It’s such an amazing place Jess, can’t wait to go back for longer next time. We were so lucky with the weather too : x
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