Queenstown. Adventure capital of New Zealand. The place high on every tourist’s ‘Must Visit’ list, and well-worth this status. It is a place I have visited often, as a child when my grandparents had an old cabin at the camping ground, and now with our own children. Living just over three hours away makes Queenstown – and indeed all of Central Otago – a regular haunt. Lucky? I think so 🙂
Queenstown is nestled on the shores of this bitterly-cold lake; various boat tours operate throughout the year, with the most famous being the TSS Earnslaw.
Gondola and Luge
A ride in the gondola affords stunning views of Queenstown and her mountains, while the views from the top of the hill are breath-taking. There’s a luge track which is hugely popular; Tiny went on a couple of runs with his daddy and liked it, but I imagine he will LOVE it in a few more years.
Queenstown is best known for being an outdoor playground; the skiing is fantastic, the whitewater rafting is thrilling, and the bungy-jumping is still going strong. There are walking tracks of varying levels, most within a short drive of the township. On a more sedate level, the Queenstown Gardens are pretty to wander through (or play frisbee-golf in), and the shopping is good.
The Gibbston Valley is home to a number of very good wineries and vineyards; Chard Farm, Peregrine and Amisfield are among my favourites. You can pick up a wine map at any information centre in Central Otago and do your own tour, or book yourself onto one of many organised tours.
A short drive from Queenstown, this gorgeous little settlement is a highlight of visiting the area. A former gold-mining village, Arrowtown has retained its quaint charm and slow pace. The breakfasts and pastries at Bonjour are divine, and there are some lovely galleries to visit. My favourite time of year to visit Arrowtown is autumn; the colours are so beautiful, and a walk around the Arrow River is lovely with the golden leaves fluttering down on your head or crunching underfoot.
The Kingston Flyer
If, like us, you have a train-obsessed child, it is worth driving to Kingston and buying tickets for The Kingston Flyer (warmer months only). This beautiful old steam train chugs along from Kingston to Fairlight; the mountains loom high above, and the sheep graze alongside. It’s not a cheap outing, but the look on Tiny’s face when he saw the train was priceless, and therefore it was worth every penny.