Nestled into the south-end of the south-island, it’s a tourist road traveled. Although it attracts its fair share of thrill-seeking adventurists, vacationers are more likely to opt for the big(ger)-city appeal of Christchurch or Auckland for trips over the Tasman. But we’re here to convince you otherwise. Set beside a glittering lake, surrounded by snow-tipped mountain ranges, Queenstown is a traveler’s paradise on the rise. High-end eateries, boutique hotels and best-of-the-best wineries make up the luxury landscape, which offers unique experiences and scenic tours. Interested in taking a trip lake-side? Well, do it in style.
STAY In between hilly hikes and wine tasting, you’ll want a retreat to recharge in and—looking out over Lake Wakatipu—Eichardt’s Private Hotel is a must. As a boutique hotel, Eichardt’s walks the line between homely comforts – a roaring fireplace, ultra-plush beds, and fresh flowers – and five-star luxury: marble bathrooms, postcard-level views, personal turn-down complete with artisanal treats.
Choose between mountain- or lake-view suites, or the penthouse for your stay, and be sure to explore all the experiences, from the whiskey lounge that’s perfect for post-adventure wind downs, to The Grille (wine with an Instagram-worthy view… yes, please) and Eichardt’s Bar for tapas and drinks. Eichardt’s also offers the Pacific Jemm experience. Aboard a 80-foot yacht that sails across the lake, sip champagne, nibble on charcuterie and discover hidden gems along the coast. If you’re in town for a party or a wedding, the yacht can be booked in its entirety for a night or two’s stay. Hidden in the hull of the boat are cozy rooms with soft beds, ocean-level lookouts and lounging rooms.
EAT A hop, skip, and a jump from the doorstep of Eichardt’s is No5 Church Lane, The Spire’s in-house restaurant. Amidst moody décor, the restaurant offers a charming tapas menu supported by local produce. Order a few small dishes to share and opt for one of their impressive range of cocktails. Or, better yet, ask the bartender to whip you up something bespoke—the mixologists on staff are more than willing to mix and match to your liking. If you don’t mind taking a drive out, Akarua Wines & Kitchen is another can’t-miss. Inside a cottage-esque house is served homey meals with award-winning wines. Our recommendation? The Central Otago lamb oyster shoulder, which is so tender it falls off the bone.
DRINK It’s practically a crime to travel through the Central Otago without trying some of the wines that made the area famous. Sprawling vineyards and single-estate orchards are behind aromatic white wines and famous (or infamous) pinot noirs. Stop over at Wet Jacket and sip full-bodied pinots, before moving onto Amisfield to revel in crisp pinot gris, tarte rosés and dry Rieslings. A tip: don’t leave without asking after the make of the wines—NZ wine makers love their craft and are more than willing to impart their knowledge.
DAY TRIP Those looking for a day trip should look to Arrowtown. After the 20 minute drive from Queenstown, stepping into Arrowtown is like stepping back in time—from rose-lined cottages, to little cafes and quaint stores, it’s almost too pleasant to handle.
PAMPER Anyone with an Instagram feed and two eyes will probably have come across that iconic shot from the Queenstown Onsen Hot Pools. The wooden spas overlook the Shotover River canyon and give way to alpine views during the day and starry skies at night. Remember to book to reserve your spot, and charge your phone to get the perfect ‘gram.