Queenstown has more on snow action then ever thanks to the amazing on mountain investments at Coronet Peak, The Remarkables & Cardrona. For a change of pace off snow Features Editor Bronwen Gora has the lowdown on 5 must dos.
Queenstown must-do 1 Eat lamb
For the best lamb in town, leave high end restaurants behind for Pedro’s House Of Lamb on Queenstown’s outskirts. The takeaway outlet – founded by Pedro Carazo after he lost his popular Spanish restaurant in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake – has a one-item menu: 4.5 hour slow-roasted garlic and rosemary-infused lamb shoulder with luscious scalloped potatoes, fresh bread and salad. At $50 this excellent version of New Zealand’s best-known meal can feed four people easily, although it’s not unheard of for single diners to eat the lot, it really is that good. Pre-ordering is advised too as the lamb can sell out. Visit www.pedros.co.nz
Queenstown 2 Star in your own show
Picnic in Middle Earth. Seriously. Leading local tour operator Alpine Adventures has sole rights to access the remote Earnslaw Burn glacial valley via helicopter near Milford Sound, a region so spectacular it featured in movie Lord Of the Rings. Fly over majestic fjords then land amid the spectacle of multiple waterfalls tumbling from the glacier, and enjoy over a gourmet lunch. “The place moves people to tears,” says Helitrax pilot Scott Dwye. His past passengers here include musician Jimmy Buffett and Microsoft’s Bill Gates. “Jimmy said it was the most beautiful place he’d seen.” Contact www.alpineadventures.co.nz
3 Drive Queenstown-Glenorchy
In 1962 Glenorchy’s residents finally received their much longed-for road linking them to Queenstown, but little did they suspect millions of others would come to love it too. The 45 minute drive hugging Lake Wakatipu ranks among the world’s 10 most beautiful drives. Get behind the wheel, or even better, let someone else do so, to experience the full splendour of lake and alpine scenery which grows increasingly dramatic around each bend. Tip: Glenorchy’s café scene now includes the region’s first dedicated dumpling outlet, Queenies. Use your rental which is hard on the driver who really should watch the road, or contact www.alpineadventures.co.nz for doing it in style.
4 Soak up sunset
Seeing The Remarkables mountain range turn bright pink at sunset is an absolute must, and now the hottest place in town to do so is QT Queenstown Hotel’s Reds Bar overlooking the lake. Why? Because the venue not only stocks one of the largest range of fine liquors available in New Zealand’s South Island, its mixologists are multi-award winners, fashioning cocktails with everything from pine needle syrup to bacon-fat washed bourbon to marshmallow-infused spiced rum. Liquor connoisseurs can also visit Cardrona Distillery 45 minutes from town toward Wanaka. See qthotelsandresorts.com
5 Enjoy the ‘New View’
OK, this one is not exactly off snow, but you won’t need any ski boots to be among the first to experience Queenstown’s world-famous scenery form a different angle riding the main new combination gondola / chairlift at Coronet Peak ski field, only 20 minutes from town.
It will run in summer too for the first time ever from January 5, 2020, whisking foot passengers to the 1650 metre summit for jaw-dropping vistas of Wakatipu Basin, the Crown Range, The Remarkables and beyond.
Enjoy the new viewing platform and go hiking, mountain biking and picnicking in summer or just watch the ski frenzy below you without being part of it.
Over at The Remarkables ski field opposite, the Lookout viewpoint is worth the 40 minutes hike up from the carpark.