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our queenstown highlights

Posted on August 06, 2007 by dorisch

Alex and myself are both adrenalin seekers to some extent. He loves the wild water adventures and me, anything in the air! Alex booked himself with ‘Serious Fun River Surfing’. According to Alex (his exact words), this 4-hour activity at the Kawarau River is for the brave-hearted ones who want to experience the ‘unknown’ of the fast rapids!

Well, it’s definitely not for me! I opt for hang-gliding with ‘Skytrek’, the only company that is licensed to hang glide at The Remarkables. That was an amazing and awesome experience. The views were incredibly beautiful. The best part of it was the ability to control and fly the kite (with supervision of course!) at some point.

Well, being able to get to the top of The Remarkables was truly an experience on its own – even Alex enjoyed the ride up here! We both took turns on the Shotover Jet, an exhilarating ride that took us through the rocky canyons of the Shotver River.

The major highlight was the world famous Shotover Jet 360º spins! Hold on tight! It’s probably not feasible to cramp up your days with too much activities especially if you only have few days in Queenstown. Always make room for any cancellation or postponement as most outdoor activities are weather permitting. Check with the operators on availability once you made up your mind.

The best thing is to visit the I-Site and have a look at what’s available and from there, you can make decisions based on your liking and preferences. Even if it rains and the weather is not too pleasant, you need not lose heart in Queenstown. You can still relax in one of the many cafes, do a wine tour, take an enjoyable ride on the Skyline Gondola, go rafting, relax with a massage or simply shop til you drop!

The café culture in Queenstown is very noticeable. Vudu café is a nice place for a light lunch and good coffee. Winnies is known for its pizzas. We had an unpleasant experience at this restaurant, ‘Solera Vino’. After finding ourselves a table, we were told by the waitress that it does not welcome children.

So parents, stay away from this restaurant if you have children with you, it’s not kids-friendly. The friendly service complements the fresh seafood and delicious desserts. They even have fun children books to entertain the kiddos! For fans of Lord of the Rings, there are many tours that take you through the spectacular journey exploring the ‘Rings’ locations.For us, the Skyline Gondola is one great (and relaxing) way to have a bird’s eye view of Queenstown and enjoy in comfort as a family.

The views from the Skyline Restaurant are stunning! It’s a pity we didn’t have time to try out the mouthwatering buffet it offers. The viewing platform outside the restaurant is a ideal place to capture a fantastic bird-eye photograph of Queenstown.

Whatever you choose to do here in Queenstown, don’t be too busy to miss out on the tranquility and beauty of Lake Wakatipu and the mountain ranges of The Remarkables. I enjoyed sunrise and dusk most – the lake and mountains give a different feeling and look to the city.

It’s just an ideal way to be rejuvenated and refreshed by the breathtaking views that Mother Nature freely offers. We were privileged to stay in 3 great accommodations over the 4 nights here. 2 of them are apartment style and the other is a luxury lodge near Arrowtown. For a day out to escape from Queenstown bustle, we drove a 45 minutes to Glenorchy. And this is one of the best drives in the trip! The road is one of most scenic highways in the world. It truly is! Alex and myself just couldn’t take our eyes off the splendid landscape throughout the entire drive!

No wonder much of filming for ‘Lord of the Rings’ was done here! We stopped by to capture magic moments of mountain ranges mirrored in the crystal clear and calm aqua waters of Lake Wakatipu.

This is another New Zealand’s natural best! If you don’t have a rental car in New Zealand, get one for this purpose! You won’t regret this experience. This is also home to one of the most expensive luxury lodges in the country, Blanket Bay, also a member of the small luxury hotels of the world. Blanket Bay sets a new standard for luxury new Zealand accommodation. If you don’t feel like driving that far, Arrowtown makes another enjoyable outing with a less hectic pace and it’s only 20minutes drive from Queenstown.

We stopped by this historic town on our way to Wanaka. Personally, even though there is not much to do here but it is nice walking along the arcades and lanes. I noticed an interesting ceramic art shop called Gone Potty. Here, you can paint your own masterpiece on ceramics! Don’t worry about not being or feeling artistic as there are loads of templates available. This is a fun place for kids too!

Paint your personal New Zealand gift here for friends and family. It adds meaning to your New Zealand gift! (I would have if time permits.) They can courier the ceramics to you once ready in 5-7 days. You can also browse through Gone Potty’s art gallery and its good range of art supplies. There are a few award-winning restaurants and cafes in Arrowtown. We relaxed by Café Mondo for a nice coffee. This place has one of the best homemade choc-chip cookie! The big cookie is crusty of the surface but moist and soft on the inside.

It’s probably a good place to grab some snacks for the road too. If you love chocolates like me, don’t miss these delectable chocolates by ‘Patagonia’ (tucked in a side lane), freshly made on premises by a chocolatier from Argentina.

I must say that this is one of Arrowtown’s best kept secrets! The chocolates are truly yummy! We continued our journey on Crown Range road to Wanaka – all ready to explore more on the beauty of the South Island.

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