- The Gondola and Luge. Doesn’t matter what time of year you are there, do it. Especially if you’ve never been up there before. The views are incredible, and sunset over the city can be beyond amazing. Take your own snack food though, things are insane expensive. Also, the walks around the top are quite neat, but not recommended in bad weather.
- TSS Earnslaw. Our first visit to Queenstown together as a couple, we went across and back without getting off. It was still a nice trip, because you get a different perspective over the city. This trip, we got off and did the farm tour and afternoon tea, which Mr18mo absolutely loved. Especially in early spring when there are new lambs and the deer still have their antlers. The food is also scrummy.
- Scenery spotting. Glenorchy, Arrowtown, Wanaka. Visit one or all of them. Each has their own charm and their own unique scenery, all of which is breathtaking.
- Adventure sports. Even if you don’t want to jump / ride yourself, there are definitely spots where you can watch. One of the easiest is the Kawarau Bungy Centre – great views for free, and the bridge they jump off is beautiful in its own right.
We stayed at the Mercure Queenstown Resort in Fernhill. At the time of year we were there, this was fine, as there was no snow and very little frost, but its not somewhere I would pick for the depths of winter, as the hill to get to and from town could be exceedingly hairy. The hotel has a drying room for all your wet ski gear, the rooms are a generous size (ours had two double beds – unexpectedly useful when Mr18mo would only sleep sharing with one of us). There is a pool, but I don’t think its a winter one!
The fridge in our room wound up cooking our milk on our last night there, so we had to go out for breakfast rather than eating our cereal in our room as planned.
We had no issues with the staff, or the parking. Our room got no sunshine, which actually 90% of the building didn’t get much (if any). The dining room has amazing views over the lake.
We ate out every night, which actually got tiresome by the end of the week – trying to find places that offered food Mr18mo would eat, and opened at a time suitable for him to eat! But we enjoyed a few treats.
The Speights was as good as a Speights usually is. Large meals, the staff were friendly and ok with us not ordering a meal for Mr18mo (he shared some off our plates instead).
Tapas plates at Surreal were divine. So much yummy food, and plenty of it Mr18mo devoured. Very quiet at 5:30, which was good, because Mr18mo was very noisy. Would definitely eat here again!
The Pig & Whistle did a HUGE roast on our last night in town – I was desperate for something that looked like home cooking, and they delivered. A kids sized roast and an adult one came out and I couldn’t tell by looking which was which.
If you are in Queenstown for any period of time, you really need a car. Buses are expensive and infrequent, and if you don’t have a car, you are really limited to the CBD. The decent supermarkets are out of town at Frankton or along the Gorge Road. There are buses to and from the skifields, and things like the bungy and Shotover Jet, but they are intended to cater for their specific users, rather than sightseers.
The layout of roads means there are no quicker back ways to get places. When the main road between Frankton and the CBD is congested, you’re stuck with it.
If you want to get out of town to Glenorchy or Arrowtown, you absolutely need a car for yourself.