Queenstown, Travel

Things to do in Queenstown, NZ

May 3, 2016

Queenstown is a picturesque city that many Kiwis and Ozzys visit for holiday, and it’s very easy to see why. The flight from Auckland was a 2 hour direct flight that deplaned directly on the tarmac. The American equivalent city would be Aspen or Vail since it’s very popular for winter sport activities, but also beautiful to hike in the non-winter months. There are mountains surrounding you everywhere with mirrored lakes and post card worthy scenery. Keep in mind that since New Zealand is south of the equator, their seasons are opposite of ours. April is spring for North Americans, but Fall season for countries below the equator. Pack accordingly! Plus, the further south you go, the colder it gets.

We arrived in Queenstown at 9am and counted our first day as a full day of sightseeing. We stayed at the Pounamu hotel apartments which was very comfortable with mountain and lake views. The hotel itself wasn’t right in the city, but it was a quick 10 minute walk with the perfect balance of nature and convenience.

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Transportation– the airport is very small and easy to navigate. The taxi ride to the Pounamu was about $40 NZD (roughly about $28 USD) mainly because they charge you this ‘airport’ surcharge when you leave. **I did notice that we weren’t charged that when we went back to the airport for our departure.** The taxi ride lasted about 15 mins, and would have been an extra 5 minutes if you stay in town.

Tip- If you don’t feel like walking back to the hotel from town, you can catch a bus that charges $9 NZD for 2 people. It’s about $10-12 NZD if you take a taxi, so if you are traveling with more than 2, this is probably the most economical route.

Hotel Accommodations- Pounamu Hotels (5 stars)

www.pounamuapartments.co.nz/accommodation/

For the location and price, I felt that this hotel was a mix of clean, modern decor and was a great value overall. We traveled with my husband’s parents, so there was plenty of space for 4 people with separate rooms on either ends of the apartment.

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Enjoying the beautiful unobstructed views with the fireplace going and warm tea

Day 1– We walked 10 minutes to town, went shopping, enjoyed some dessert, sat by the lake people watching, and took a gondola up to dinner at Skyline Queenstown

Tip- Lunch at Skyline Queenstown. We did the dinner option at Skyline. I do not recommend this because it’s dark, and you can’t see any views from the gondola or restaurant.  Go for lunch for the views and it’s cheaper.

www.skyline.co.nz/queenstown/

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Scenic 10 minute walk from the hotel

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Grab a cookie and ice snack and take it down to the lake

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Go during the day. You can’t see anything at night

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Day 2– Milford Sound Tour

Beautiful Milford Sound in Fiordland, NZ

www.realjourneys.co.nz/en/destinations/milford-sound/

The Milford Sound Tour is a must see if you are visiting New Zealand. It is a national park that is about 4-5 hours away if you are driving direct by car. If you don’t feel comfortable driving, then there are many tours that you can take.

Tip- **Bring motion sickness medicine, just in case. There are lots of windy roads up the mountains, and choppy water during the ‘ocean’ part of the cruise tour**

  • This is an entire day tour that will pick you up at around 7am, and drop off is around 7pm.
  • The first leg took 2 hours to Te Anu, NZ with a rest stop to pick up others and use the restrooms/toilets ($2 NZD).
  • Then, it’s a 3 hour drive into the mountains with plenty of stops to get off the bus and take photos along the way.
  • The final stop is a cruise ride of the Milford Sound that can last anywhere b/w 1.5 hours to 3 hours depending on which boat tour you pick.
  • Note that if you take the shorter cruise, you will still have to wait for the others to get back. Everyone on the bus takes the same trip back regardless of length of cruise.
  • The trip back is 4 hours total with only one stop in Te Anu for drop off and restroom break.

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7 am sunrise while we waited for the tour bus from hotel

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One of the stops along the way

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There were waterfalls everywhere because of the rain

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Milford Sound from cruise boat

Day 3– Take a stroll in Queenstown Gardens, afternoon snack and beer lakeside, sunset dinner at Rees Hotel

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Fall foliage

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Dinner at Rees Hotel about 30 minute walk from city

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Tip- Make sure to book a reservation before sundown to catch the views

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Separate menus for men and women :/

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Fresh oysters

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Panko crusted salmon

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Lamb tenderloin with garden veggies

Queenstown was the perfect blend of relaxation and adventure. It is definitely somewhere that I recommend everyone visit at least once.

Enjoy!

Salena

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  • Nancy Pansy May 3, 2016 at 8:01 PM

    Nice shots, I like your quality of the pictures.

  • Sir Isaac Kingsley III May 10, 2016 at 11:24 AM

    This is super fabulous and terrific. I am amazed at the grandioseness of this wonderful place. It reminds me of a dream I had when I was but a little boy. In my dream I was walking through these very same jungles of Queenstown, New Jersey that are illustrated in your glorious time snaps when a grand bear approached me. He began to speak to me in his deep grizzled voice. “Are you frightened, little one?” asked the husky bear. “N..no sir” I managed to sputter out. “Then come let us prance together in the valley of Queenstown where are all the magic in the world is created” the bear replied. The bear then took my hand with his paw and as we began to walk towards the valley I woke up. Immediately upon waking up I burst into tears and cried for several hours knowing that I did not have the courage to ever set foot on these lands in real life. Ever since this dream I’ve had a strong and unwieldy yearning to visit this place. The thing is, I never felt I had it in me to go until I read your blog. Now, I feel I am well prepared to visit the place where all the magic in the world is created. Thank you so much. You are a treasure hidden by seaweed at the bottom of the ocean and I am the lucky adventurer who just discovered you.

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