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Destination: Queenstown, New Zealand

March 12, 2018

Queenstown would win a global beauty pageant hands down, scooping Miss Personality while she was at it. But let’s be honest: this laidback lass would be far too busy water skiing or snowboarding to enter in the first place.

Laura Miller chats to Queenstown local and Stay One Degree member Miranda Spary about where to eat, drink and play in this rustic-glam Kiwi hotspot.

Summer or winter?

Put a town in the mountains on a skinny southern island and what do you get? Four seasons in one day, any time of the year. Summer in Queenstown is pure joy, with days stretching from before 6am to past 10pm, allowing plenty of hours to spend boating, hiking and picnicking under Insta-worthy blue skies. You can do it all in winter, too – plus skiing, snowboarding, the list goes on. In spring, ski in a t-shirt then play a round of golf afterwards. And the fiery energy of autumn when the first frosts turn leaves bright gold and scarlet… Let’s just say it’s an all-season destination.

So you’ve watched sunrise over Lake Wakatipu, strolled the botanical gardens and need caffeine and a brunchy bite…

Grab a coffee and something delicious from Vudu Cafe. They serve incredible modern, healthy (and not so healthy) food to cater for all tastes and allergies. Owner Michelle Freeman has bagged NZ’s top cafe award several times with Vudu and sibling joint Bespoke Kitchen, which is near the gondola terminal.

Now for an adrenalin rush…

Ford a fjord, heli-ski, luge, hang glide, fly fish, river surf, skydive, jet boat, bungee… it’s hard to get bored in Queenstown. And if you’re hungry (again) after all that action? Madam Woo on the waterfront is busy, buzzy and does Malaysian-Asian street food and people watching with aplomb. Or, join the queue outside Fergburger – it’s well worth the wait. Queenstown’s best pizzeria is probably The Cow, (and has been for 30 years), though Bella Cucina offers pretty stiff competition.

Or maybe a long, lazy lunch beckons…

Relaxed Akarua Winery on Lake Hayes Road is just along from the more haute Amisfield Vineyard (don’t miss the ‘Trust the Chef’ menu). Both have gorgeous outside areas and of course, roaring log fires in winter.

Got kids in tow? Wetjacket Wines is ideal with its shady beanbag-strewn lawns and food trucks serving an array of goodies from tacos and spit roasts to blue cod paté and cheese platters.

Or why not picnic? With such an abundance of lakes, rivers and mountains, it’s hard to find anywhere without a sensational view. Drive up to the ski fields or walk/bike on the Wakatipu trails to an infinite number of picturesque spots. Lounge on the old Shotover Bridge; take a 4x4 drive up the river to ghostly Macetown, or head for Paradise past Glenorchy. As for picnic fare, so many places do great food to take away – Taste and Savour, Pedro’s House of Lamb, Raeward Fresh to name just a few. A personal favourite is the lamb shank pie from Fergbaker – the trick is not to wolf it down before you reach your destination.

Time for (more) wine…

It’s worth doing the loop – heading over the Crown Range to Wanaka, visiting Rippon and its equally famous neighbours, then heading back through Lowburn, calling in at Wooing Tree and then the multitude of top names at Bannockburn. Heading back to Queenstown, stop at some of the Gibbston estates – Peregrine, Mt Rosa, Gibbston Valley and Chard Farm – then Wetjacket and Amisfield. Really, you need at least a week to explore!

A touch of romance…

Botswana Butchery wins the gong for most romantic restaurant, due to pop-up-book views of The Remarkables and remarkably good food – book one of their intimate dining rooms for two overlooking the lake. For something different try Michelin-starred Josh Emett’s Rata for exciting Kiwi food in a beautiful setting. Or splurge on a helicopter to take the two of you and a picnic to the top of a mountain.

It’s not bedtime yet…

The list of fab bars in Queenstown is endless. Eichardt’s is an icon (since 1867) and is the only place in town to serve Bollinger by the glass. Barmuda is chic and fun. Danny of VKnow in Fernhill is a grape master who’s always happy to share one-off treasures. The Blue Door in Arrowtown is particularly vibey on Wednesday open-mike nights.

Now sleep!

Stay One Degree, the social network for luxury villa rentals, offers the chance to experience Queenstown like a discerning local. Miranda’s beautiful farmhouse is just one of the Stay One Degree properties available in the area, see the full range at stayonedegree.com.

Property images courtesy of Stay One Degree.

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