Visiting Queenstown in summer

Queenstown, located in the stunning Southern Lakes region, is not just for snow bunnies.

We recently visited the region and experienced long hot sunny days and the most amazing sunsets. Here’s what we got up to in Queenstown.

Flying in from Christchurch we got the most awe-inspiring view over the West Coast. Flying above the Franz and Fox Glaciers, then over The Remarkables Mountains before a pretty rough landing at Queenstown Airport.

Queenstown is everything you would expect from what you may have seen in the media, plus more. The scenery is surreal, like a movie backdrop (which it actually is!). Lake Wakatipu spans as far as the eye can see from the town centre with colossal mountains in the background. The town is built around the lake, with many cafes, shops and waterfront tourist attractions on the lake wharf.

Winding our way up what seemed the steepest street in the country, we arrived at our accommodation at The Commonage Villas atop Queenstown Hill. Our villa exceeded our expectations. It was beautifully appointed with the best view in Queenstown by air town. We looked out to the lake and mountains, and each night we were treated to the most beautiful sunsets. To our right was the Gondola up on Bob’s Peak where the occasional paraglider would jump off and float past our balcony. Not my idea of fun, but I’m sure it would have been worth the view.

Being visitors to town, we had to do the touristy stuff. Just walking around the lake and popping in to one of the many cafes & bars and shops kept us amused for hours. We also spent a hot 32 degree day on the lake shore (beach?) and watched the crazy kids jump off the pontoon into the icy cold water.

Our  ‘must do’ Queenstown activities we experienced:

Shotover Jet. Of course you have to do this! I have an addiction to jet boats, and this is one of the best. The photos I have seen in the past of this experience looked rather airbrushed, but now I know they’re not. Screaming (literally) through the narrow Shotover River Canyons, passing what seemed like ‘near miss’s’ of rocks and fallen trees what absolutely exhilarating. $19 for a second go. Sure! I’d do this tour again and again.

The Helicopter Line. After looking up at The Remarkables Mountains for a few days, what better way to see Queenstown than from up there. Not my first time in a helicopter, but one of my most unique heli experiences, we landed on Queenstown by airThe Remarkables, 1538m above Queenstown.  Wow wow wow! A quick photo shoot then we plummeted down toward the lake for a safe landing. The pilot said it was necessary to nose dive off the cliff, I’m pretty sure he was trying to work us up! The photos say it all.

Best lunch spots: The Bath House on Marine Parade - On the beach. Great for breakfast or lunch. Pub on the Wharf, Beach Street. Good food at affordable prices. Perfect for a drink and people watching.

Favourite places for dinner: Botswana Butchery (pricey but worth it) and Speight’s Ale House (delicious NZ beef and lamb).

Best watering hole: The Cowboy Bar. Hard to find but worth the effort (7 Searle Lane). We loved the quirky interior and free pizzas. The saddle bar stools were pretty cool, and make sure someone gets on the bucking bull.

All I can say is that Queenstown is all it is made out to be. Exciting, exhilarating, stunning, friendly, unique, amazing!

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