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1. Outdoor hot pools in a picturesque setting: Just a 20 minute drive from downtown Queenstown is Millbrook Resort. Aside from accommodation, Millbrook has a beautiful golf course, on-site restaurants, a beauty spa & salon and gorgeous outdoor hot pools in a tussock garden setting surrounded by mountains.
2. Indoor hot pools: For a more intimate experience, try Onsen Hot Pools at Arthur’s Point. Just a 5 minute drive from Queenstown, they offer a pick up & drop off shuttle service from the CBD. You need to book in advance to enjoy these luxury spas with concertina windows opening onto expansive views high above the Shotover River.
3. Scenic tour from Queenstown to Glenorchy: Pull a cuddly blanket over your knees in a toasty warm van and allow your experienced driver to show off one of New Zealand’s most scenic roads. Around every corner is a mind-blowing piece of heaven on earth, with grand snow capped mountains and crystal water views. As you travel through into Paradise forest amidst the dappled light of the beech trees, you’ll understand why Sir Peter Jackson chose this area for so many locations in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.*
4. Historic township: Arrowtown is a town that feels like a movie set. Created by gold-miners during the 1860’s gold rush, the buildings have retained their old-fashioned charm. It takes 20 minutes to drive from Queenstown to Arrowtown. After wandering into the cute shops and eating at one of many great restaurants, you can stroll around the loop track beside the Arrow river, where gold can still be found! To the left of the village is a Chinese settlement, with the restored huts of Chinese miners who arrived at the end of the gold rush. For more history, visit the Lakes District museum at the northern end of town, and don’t leave without trying an ice-cream from Patagonia (a local favourite!).
5. Views from up high: From Queenstown CBD you can drive up Coronet Peak, which is a ski field in winter. Just a 25 minute drive from town to the top, the road is sealed (but you’ll need to carry chains in winter). The view from the top is akin to looking out the window in a low flying plane – just sensational, with braided rivers, Lake Wakatipu and mountains aplenty - including The Remarkables, Cecil Peak, Walter Peak and Mt Nicholas.
6. Wine: Gibbston Valley begins 25 minutes from Queenstown. The landscape appears stark and wheaten coloured, and the fields are laced with schist. Its soil and climate lends itself to succulent stone fruits and wine grapes. The Kawarau River twists alongside it, carrying white-water rafters and dunking bungy jumpers. The most relaxing way to enjoy this area is to take a tour with one of the local wine tour companies, who will introduce you to different wine and cheese tasting venues, and keep you safe on the roads.
7. Water: There are a lot of different ways to experience the vast body of water in Queenstown that is Lake Wakatipu. But if you’re aiming for mellow, then head down to the Steamer Wharf and enquire about the Million Dollar cruise – a scenic tour with commentary including history and local tales, or take the TSS Earnslaw steamship to Walter Peak station for high tea, or enquire about the boat to Mt Nicholas station through Southern discoveries.
8. Wonderful scenic walks: Again there is a huge list of walks - but for a gentle scenic stroll, consider Queenstown gardens, Frankton Arm, Kelvin Heights or Bob’s cove. For a more challenging walk try the 45 minute uphill track to the Basket of Dreams. For more detailed information about local walks visit the Department of Conservation (DOC) visitor centre on Stanley Street for maps, and information, or have a look at their website.
9. Waterfront café’s: If you like to take your scenery in while you dine, check out one of these perfectly placed venues (amongst others): The Boatshed café at Frankton marina – which has a deck overlooking the lake and The Remarkables mountains; take a water taxi from Queenstown wharf to The Hilton Hotel at Kelvin Heights where you have a choice of two lake-view eateries: Wakatipu Grill and Stacks bar. In downtown Queenstown at the Steamer Wharf, you’ll find Perky’s boat – a floating bar that allows you to bring your own food aboard.
10. Skyline Gondola: Take a 450 metre gondola ride up Bob’s Peak – the higher you get the bigger the views become. Once you arrive at the top you’ll find a restaurant and café, and a viewing balcony that really does make you feel on top of the world. If you head up at night time you can also book a star-gazing tour. For a soft-adrenaline experience in the daytime, you can try the luge cart track – or if, by this time you’ve had enough mellow – enquire about tandem parachuting back down!
*Pure Glenorchy tours is based in Queenstown, New Zealand. We specialise in showing off Lord of the Rings filming locations and New Zealand scenery from Queenstown to Glenorchy and Paradise. Give us a call, we’d love to show you around