We have a new love. See you later Wellington… now it’s all about Queenstown.
Before we arrived in New Zealand, I had this impression of Queenstown in my head as a sprawling, buzzing, huge adventure city that never sleeps. It’s actually a beautiful little town comfortably snuggled at the bottom of Ben Lomond and Queenstown Hill on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, looking out over the Remarkable Mountains.
First impressions had me thinking of a sleepy little alpine town, just waiting out the summer until ski season began again. First impressions can definitely be misleading… Queenstown is everything people promised it to be, but in a much prettier package than expected.
Queenstown’s energy levels only crank up when it changes from day to night. During the day, it’s a buzzing tourist town with an emphasis on the outdoors, while at night it turns into the best place ever for bar hopping. Day or night it’s busy, friendly, and has plenty to do to suit proper tourists and broke backpackers.
After the Kiwi Bus dropped us off, we spent our first evening on a pub crawl, which was a mixture of saying goodbye to all the people of the bus we’ve been travelling with for the last month, a celebration of making it through both islands, and an exploration of the town that would be our home for the next four days. We finally crawled into our beds at 3am after checking out a fair number of the awesome bars. It’s safe to say we woke up with a bit of a hangover the next day.
Luckily we’d been wise enough to realise we shouldn’t book anything the next morning, although we had stupidly decided a wine tour that afternoon would be ideal. Hair of the dog and all that… to be honest the first glass sorted us right out. The company took us on a minibus tour to a couple of different vineyards surrounding Queenstown and we tried all the wines that area is famous for – most notably it’s Pinot Noir. Unfortunately they were pretty stingy with they pouring, so it probably wasn’t worth the money we shelled out, but we got to see some of the beautiful scenery surrounding the town.
While in Queenstown we managed to spend far too much money, but managed to rack up quite a variety of activities… Blakey went on a jet boat to blow his hangover away and loved every second, we had a sedate morning game of mini golf, our hair-of-the-dog wine tour, a challenging escape room (we escaped), a haunted house involving much screaming, free zip line, the world’s highest canyon swing (did I mention I’m scared of heights?), sweaty hiking, sedate walk around the gardens, pub crawl, and of course we had to try the world famous Ferg Burger.
People literally queue for HOURS to sink their teeth into a burger. Crazy, right? We thought so, although that didn’t stop us from trying one, because you can’t go to Queenstown and NOT have a Ferg Burger. We did it smart though… we called them and ordered. They told us to be there in 15 minutes to collect the burger. Much better plan – while the rest of those poor idiots were still an hour away from even ordering, we’d already nommed ours by the lake. The verdict? It was a brilliant burger. Was it the best one I’ve ever tasted? Who knows, it’s a burger. It was really good though, you should have one.
To walk off the bazillion calories we’d been inhaling, we decided to walk up to the top of the gondola station on Ben Lomond. Yep, walk up, even though there’s a gondola which only exists so you don’t have to actually do the walking thing. I’m glad we did though – while it’s mega steep and I thought my lungs might actually explode, the views on the way, and from the top, were much more rewarding because we earned them. Also, by this point in our New Zealand trip we’re a bit broke so paying $40 for a gondola ride seems excessive.
I should probably point out that the actual Ben Lomond summit walk is actually a 6 hour trek… our tiny little struggle up to the top of the gondola was only an hour each way, but we still rewarded ourselves with an ice cream at the top.
So that’s Queenstown done! Now we’re off on the Deep South bus to Dunedin and Invercargill before heading over to Milford Sound for a nice little cruise in fiordland. I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂