Queenstown, New Zealand, on the South Island’s Lake Wakatipu, is a land of unbelievable beauty – where thrill seeking adventures abound. As if this was not reason enough to visit, the nearby Central Otago Wine region is filled with world class vineyards and wines.
The Sofitel Queenstown – is perfectly located, on a quiet side street, next to the stairs leading to the gondola. The Tiki hiking trail is practically in their backyard. After 17 hours of travel we were exhausted and couldn’t wait to check-in and relax before dinner. The reception staff was welcoming and even offered us a glass of sparkling wine before taking us to our room.
Tip: There is no self parking at the hotel, but the staff will quickly retrieve your car as needed.
Our room was well appointed and faced the town. There are no views of the lake at this hotel, but it doesn’t matter – the lake is a couple blocks away. Our superior king room had an espresso machine as well as a Jacuzzi tub (which is very nice after a long day of physical activity). We had a small balcony, which was perfect for picture taking and drying clothes.
This hotel was a perfect launching point for our adventures in Queenstown.
The Bunker Restaurant – located off a small alleyway in downtown, is a dimly lit, old school restaurant and bar with a rustic fine dining atmosphere. It is the kind of place where you just want to sit in front of the fire, enjoy a martini, and feast on locally sourced game with European and Kiwi flavors.
Joe’s Garage – on Searle Lane in downtown Queenstown, is a fun, casual restaurant that serves up a good breakfast and lunch. Try the muesli at breakfast and the burgers at lunch.
Fishbone Bar & Grill – has the best prawn tacos I have ever tasted. This was my favorite restaurant in Queenstown.
Dart River Jet Safari – combines wilderness jet boating, “Funyak” inflatable canoes, a wilderness walk and wilderness picnic lunch. What an adventure! The tour outfit picked us up at The Queenstown Information Center and drove us to the Dart River departure point. They supplied wetsuits, wetsuit booties, life vests and dry bags. You bring your own sunscreen, sunglasses, cameras and snacks. The tour begins with an adrenaline rush jet boat ride down the Dart river – hairpin turns, spins and all. Once far enough down the river you hop off the jet boat and board your “Funyak” inflatable canoe. The canoes are small enough to allow you to enter rock pools and float down side streams. @Tee2Pub and I had a amazing time.
Milford Sound Full-Day Tour – is an absolute must for every visitor. Located in Fiordland National Park, and described as the “8th wonder of the world”, the beauty of the Milford Sound is unparalleled. The Maori are believed to have discovered Milford over 1,000 years ago. On route to the Sound the tour bus makes a stop at Mirror Lakes, where you follow a nature trail path along the small lakes, and see the Earl Mountains reflecting like mirrors on the water.
Onsen Hot Pools – is located high on a cliff overlooking Shotover River Canyon. Ever since seeing the Onsen Hot Pools on an episode of the Bachelor, I was determined to experience it for myself. We booked a sunset Tandeki experience which included Gibbston Valley wine. aromatherapy burner, and your choice of Kapiti ice cream, Proper Crisps or Whittakers Chocolate Bar.
The private room has one wall of glass and roof that retracts at a push of a button to create an outdoor bathing experience.
Tip: The facility offers free shuttle service from downtown Queenstown – so take it.
Central Otago Wine Region – is the most southerly grape growing region in the world – and an easy drive from Queenstown. Some of New Zealand’s best Pinot Noir wines are produced in this region. Mt. Difficulty and Felton Road were two of our favorites.
Driving Times & Distances
Queenstown to Cromwell 50 minutes / 61km
Cromwell to Wanaka 45 minutes / 55km
Cromwell to Alexandra 30 minutes / 35km
Tip: Stop by Lazy Dog Vineyard and Edible Garden to pick up souvenirs of relishes, chutneys, jams and jellies. While you are there enjoy a craft beer tasting or wine tasting.