The Best of Queenstown, New Zealand

Lifestyle's Travel Expert Rose Jacobs takes us on a short journey bound to deliver huge rewards at this time of the year when we are most in need of a little boost! 

May can be the time of year when we start to look back at our Chrissie holidays as distant memories – and the prospect of another genuine break could be months away, if not next Christmas.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way, thanks to the short (and affordable) puddle jump across the ditch that New Zealand offers.

Kate and William recently showcased some of the best of Queenstown in the South Island, but their whirlwind tour really didn’t get into the absolute soul of this destination… so come with me now for a slightly deeper journey. Here’s my hit list of Must-See experiences in and around Queenstown.

  1. The Onsen Hot Pools
    The Onsen Hot Pools are just a 10 minute drive outside of Queenstown. “Onsen” is a traditional Japanese bath house, with private baths (spas) made from oriental timbers and steaming with scented aromas that will leave you feeling cleansed, revived and relaxed. The beauty of these pools in particular is that they look out over the famous Shotover River, one of the most picturesque vistas you could hope for, while soaking your travelled feet and worries away with your friend or partner, and enjoying a glass of wine. (They also collect and drop off from your hotel if you are after an even more enjoyable journey!)
  2. Historic Arrowtown
    Spend a day (or stay overnight) in the charming historic nearby town of Arrowtown. This quaint little heritage filled village runs alongside one of the most extraordinary creek beds boasting insane coloured trees and pathways. It also boasts one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to in my lifetime. Saffron Restaurant has also been recognized as one of the top 100 restaurants in the world by Internationally renowned magazine Conde Naste. Opposite sits an intimate, dimly lit, inviting and hidden bar for a post dinner digestif, Blue Door Bar, with a fireplace, low ceilings and leather arm chairs. You won’t want to leave.

  3. Wineries
    Whilst you’re in this area, don’t waste the opportunity to visit some of the most successful wineries in the world, such as Amisfield and Gibbston Valley wineries. Spend a day visiting the cellar doors and sampling some of the most sumptuous wines New Zealand has to offer – and let’s face it, they are some of the best you will taste in a lifetime.
  4. FergBurgers
    This is a burger joint with a difference. Open 21 hours a day, originally designed for the late night post-bar clientele, Ferg the owner realized that everyone in town, night or day, local or foreigner, were craving his juicy burger creations. The result is a burger experience truly worth travelling to Queenstown for. Located in Shotover Street, this is one burger you cannot leave town without trying.
  5. Milford Sound
    Previously described as the eighth wonder of the world, and voted as the world’s top travel destination in an international survey, this is a place where time stands still and you remember to breathe again. It’s technically a fjord, surrounded by sheer rock faces and cascading waterfalls. A boat ride through the fjord will reveal a pristine water-scape where snowflakes descend into the top later of fresh water and disintegrate once they hit the salty layers… a majestic sight for any brave divers!

  6. Hike the Franz Joseph Glaciers!
    Just a short helicopter ride (amazing in itself and more affordable than you’d think) from Queenstown takes you into the remarkable Pinnacles area of the glacier.  A guide will navigate you through a maze of ice and explain the dramatic environmental changes over the last few years, leaving you feeling in awe of the power of mother nature and having a healthier perspective on our lives back home.

Overall, it’s a varied and colourful mix of activities that you must see and do, but this is New Zealand in a nutshell. It has the best of everything. The best food, wine, scenery, hospitality, culture and history. And instead of feeling like you need a holiday after your holiday, New Zealand has a way of making us humble, refreshed and as though the world is in perspective again. This is the perfect May holiday.

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