Queenstown was without a doubt one of my favourite places we visited in NZ. Before going, everyone who I had spoken to about my trip raved about Queenstown, and as soon as we hopped into our little camper van and found our way to the town centre I could totally see why. It is beautiful. The town is situated on the shores of the stunning Lake Wakatipu, and is surrounded by mountain ranges, with amazing views of The Remarkables.
There is so much to do and see and the town itself has a huge array of shops, awesome bars and restaurants, and loads of activities for backpackers and travellers to get their teeth into, no matter what the season. We were there in the autumn and had some seriously good weather, but it’s an all-year-round resort with activities varying from bungee jumping and horse trekking in the summer, to skiing and snowboarding in the winter.
Because of this there are loads of young people and Queenstown has such a cool vibe. It reminded me a lot of Banff in Canada, but on a much bigger scale and I absolutely loved our time there. As it was autumn, the trees were ablaze in shades of red, gold and orange, and the sunny weather meant we had beautiful sunsets and misty mornings. We were there for about 36 hours in total, but if we’d had more time we would have definitely spent another day or so there doing more of the hikes and activities.
My Queenstown must-dos:
Take a gondola up to Skyline Queenstown
Shane and I flew into Queenstown from Auckland over the Southern Alps, which we would totally recommend as the views were incredible, and by the time we’d collected our camper van and checked in at our campsite, it was golden hour. We raced to the Skyline Queenstown and caught a gondola ride up to the top of Bob’s Peak, which overlooks the town, the lake and The Remarkables, so that we could catch the sunset.
We paid NZ$55 each to get to the top (this also included two luge rides which you can find at the top and are so fun) and the views were seriously incredible. This was my first view of the countryside in NZ — we’d already been up the Auckland SkyTower, which I loved FYI, so I’d already seen some pretty epic views — but I was completely blown away by Queenstown’s beauty. The light was dancing along the tops of the mountains and the sky was glowing pink as the sun set behind us. It’s an absolute must-do if you’re ever in NZ.
I will say though, that when we arrived there was a coach load of mad tourists also trying to get snaps of the view at the Skyline, which made for some pretty uncomfortable viewing time. It was crazily busy and you almost had to push through the crowds to be able to see, but once these tourists disappeared into the function room part of the Skyline building it was lovely and peaceful at the top.
You can come and go from the viewing platform as you please and there are lots of hikes around the area and places to sit and watch the world go by, which I loved. You can do mountain biking if that’s your thing, and it’s also an incredible place to stargaze. Whizzing down the luge was also super fun, even if I was moving down the track at the speed of a snail, and there is also a restaurant and gift shop at the top too. The view was definitely what did it for me though!
Walk by the lake and gardens
We awoke to drizzle and fog the following morning so decided to head into the town to have brunch by the lake. We headed to Ivy and Lola’s and both had full breakfasts, which were delicious. There’s quite a buzz in the streets in the evenings, but the lakeside was sleepily peaceful in the morning which was really lovely. The sun soon burned away the cloud and we spent most of the morning in Queenstown walking by Lake Wakatipu and taking in all of our surroundings. I think that is the really nice thing about Queenstown, as you can go crazy with all of the activities but you can also take your time to wander by the lake if you’d like to. There’s something for everyone.
Hike the Ben Lomond Track
In the afternoon we decided to head back up on the gondolas to Bob’s Peak to do some hiking. I never actually realised how much I love hiking until I went to NZ, and it’s definitely something I want to do more of back home. There are several different hikes you can do from the Skyline building and we hiked along the Ben Lomond Track for an hour or so, which had absolutely stunning, panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu and beyond. You can either make your way to the Saddle or the Summit, but as the days were getting shorter due to autumn hours we headed back to Queenstown to grab some food and watch the sunset by the lake.
Grab a Ferg Burger
No trip to Queenstown is complete without a Ferg Burger. I had been told by everyone (and also by Shane several hundred times) that I had to grab a Ferg Burger when there, and it definitely did not disappoint. I’m a plain Jane so opted for “The Ferg Burger”, while Shane tried out “The Sweet Julie” and “The Cock Cajan” (yep, we ate there on two separate occasions), and they were delicious. Made even better by the sunsets and awesome views we had surrounding us.
All in all, Queenstown was absolutely epic and I would go back in a heartbeat. It was the perfect place to start our road trip, after some city slicker life in Auckland, and it got me so excited for what was to come on our travels. We stayed for two nights at Queenstown Holiday Parks & Motels Creeksyde, paying about NZ$60 for two nights, which I would recommend as the facilities were good and clean, and it was a short walk to the town centre. We also booked a ferry cruise to Milford Sound while we were there, which was the next destination on our whistle stop tour of what I could already see was an incredible country.
Lots of love. xoxo