Queenstown – the perfect playground

If ever a blog post required sub-headings it is this post for Queenstown (which is why there are no sub-headings). There is a sentence in the lonely planet that says if Queenstown didn’t exist somebody would invent a town to take its place. Or something like that. In all honesty when a city has been built up by everybody you have met whilst travelling you start to worry a little that the hype may destroy the reality. In truth though, Queenstown is the perfect playground and it really doesn’t matter how old, how fit, how adventurous you are because there really is something for everyone. What a cracking town.

We arrived there via Arrowtown which is about as old school a town as you will find in New Zealand. All wooden buildings and harking back to the days of when gold was found in the river. It was a nice walk and we saw the old Chinese mining village and tasted some pretty good wines from Gibbston Valley before heading on to Queenstown.

The old Chinese village in Arrowtown, from the days of the Goldrush

We arrived around lunch time and having been advised to partake of the Fergburger we did just that. I went for the original (no tomato and raw onion obviously – this could take up a whole blog post so will be passed over) and Jen the same with the tomato and onion. We sat on the grass in front of the lake and just took in the surroundings.

The lake front in Queenstown

The burger was spectacular, none of this London speciality burger nonsense, this was a proper burger, cooked properly and eaten in wonderful surroundings. You can take your slice of foie gras and brioche buns and…. (this is a family blog).

The almighty Fergburger

Our afternoon fuelled by Fergburger was spent walking around the wee hill that overlooks Queenstown and enjoying the luge racing track. Needless to say Jen was a natural and overtook me on the last bend to claim a memorable victory. What a view it was from up there though.

Queenstown from above

We ended our first afternoon in a hot pool just outside the town with views over the river. I think Jen found it more relaxing than I did as I was too preoccupied by the cold water you could drop on your head if it all got too hot. The whole experience was good to excellent.

Enjoying the view from the hot tub

There is something about Queenstown that doesn’t let you sit still for too long and we have realised since being there that we really did fill our time pretty fully. After the pools we had a wonderful meal at a Japanese place (Minami Jujisei) that served excellent sushi and a lovely Reisling from Te Whare Ra.

The next day started late at 11am with a jetboat ride that had Jen terrified of repeating our Fiji trip but was in fact great fun as the driver man threw us around tight bends as we explored the bay and local rivers. We were then whisked off to a wine tasting tour with the most unlikely pair. Both from Alaska, both in excess of 16 stone, both 60+, both women but one with a very German accent (Inge – Jen reliably informs me).

Inge started off the tour with the wholehearted cry of (please put on your best German accent) “I am happy, I am about to go drinking!”. She followed that up by drinking to her heart’s content and put us to shame with the amount of revisits requested (asking for a second taste of a wine). It was great fun chatting to these two and we had some pretty good wines along the way too.

Wine stop at Gibbston Valley

The evening was spent with more wine and beers with the knowledge that we would be up early for a game of golf at Jack’s Point. The number 1 rated course in NZ – or that’s what the sales people kept telling me.

Holy baby jesus they were right. This place was simply stunning. Beyond stunning – cataclysmically beautiful, orgasmically spectacular – to golfers everywhere, stick it on your must play list.

With Jen walking with me and taking photos we played slowly taking in the surroundings and enjoying every hole. I played my own schizophrenic version of a 1 ball better ball with two shots only required if the drive was poor and shot a version of a 74 (two over). I can’t claim a real 74 but then again I had no glove and no golf shoes and slipped a good few times whilst hitting shots. Turns out I can’t hit a fairway wood without golf shoes.

It was a truly spectacular course and hopefully our photos have done it justice:

Stuck it to 8 foot, holed the putt


The map won't help you find your ball Nick


There's a fairway down there somewhere
Not a bad spot for a club house

After golf we slinked  back to Fergburger for another helping and it was just as beautiful as the first. After 18 holes I was ready for the Big Al (two quarter pounders, bacon, cheese, no tomato, no onion) whilst Jen controversially went for a chicken based burger – apparently also sublime.

We then drove to Te Anau which is the gateway to the Milford Sound and will be covered in our next post.

The views on the way to Te Anau

In two and a half days we managed to eat world renowned burgers, take a wine tour, ride on a jetboat, play 18 holes of spectacular golf, race on a luge, take a cable car, eat fantastic sushi, relax in hot pools with a few other things besides. The best thing was we never felt like we were rushing around to do this stuff. Queenstown probably is just as good as the hype says it is.

Early morning Queenstown. Can we go back yet please?