From the extraordinary alpine landscapes to the extreme continental climate, this region is bold and captivating.
In a landscape of steep mountains, roaring rivers and deep lakes, the hot dry summers and cold crisp winters have seen gold mining give way to sheep farming, then stone fruit orchards and now gorgeous wines.
Your restaurant table looks across a long alpine lake towards steep snow-capped mountains. A dish of New Zealand duck cooked two ways arrives as you swirl a full-bodied pinot noir. You inhale the wine’s warm aromas of black currant, liquorice, raspberry and cherry. This could be heaven.
Lakeside gourmet restaurants, such as Public Kitchen & Bar, source the finest ingredients and prepare them to perfection. Their top chefs and waiting staff are drawn to Queenstown by the abundance of exceptional ingredients and the adventure-filled outdoor lifestyle.
Or if you love lamb, Roaring Megs Restaurant is the place to go. If you’d like to increase your own kitchen skills while you’re here, you can book into classes at the Queenstown Resort College or the Ki Tao cooking school.
A short drive northeast of Queenstown is the Gibbston Valley wine district. Friendly cellar door staff at wineries such as Waitiri Creek Wines will lead you through a tasting of beautifully crafted wines. Vineyard restaurants, like the one at Gibbston Valley Wines, offer fresh alfresco dining in summer and a warm fireside setting for superb winter lunches.
Apart from stunning pinot noir, the specialties of this area include light, intense riesling and crisp, spicy pinot gris. To make the most of your time, get in touch with Appellation Central Wine Tours, Queenstown Wine Trail or It’s Wine Time for a personalised tour.
Further north, the picturesque historic village of Arrowtown has a tasty assortment of restaurants and cafés. You can also shop for magnificent local ingredients - fish, meat, game, fruit, nuts, cheeses, olives, herbs and vegetables.
To the southwest of Queenstown is Fiordland. This remote, pristine region of New Zealand is renowned for boutique lodge experiences that are as unforgettable as the scenery.
The lakeside town of Wanaka is both charming and relaxed. Informal restaurants with stunning views across the lake serve a mouth-watering range of local and international cuisine. Fine dining, in intimate surroundings, can also be found in award-winning countryside restaurants on the edges of town.
The boutique brewery, Wanaka Beerworks, offers daily tours and a tasting room where you can sample their highly acclaimed Vienna larger, dark larger and pilsener.
South of Wanaka, the historic Cardrona Hotel (established in 1863) is a popular stop for a drink or a meal. Visitors enjoy the roaring fireplaces in winter and the sunny garden courtyard in the warmer months.
Luxury boutique lodges, such as Aoturoa and Cardrona Terrace, offer secluded, first class accommodation in beautiful landscapes, with the option to enjoy in-house gourmet food and carefully selected local wines.
The nearby Cromwell basin is home to acclaimed vineyards and producers of fine foods. Wild thyme honey, saffron, blueberries, stone fruit, olives, walnuts and fresh vegetables are just some of the ingredients local chefs have available. Most producers welcome visitors and many offer informative tours.