Monday, February 6, 2017

Guide to Top Queenstown Hikes, Dining and Things to Do

We arrived in Queenstown on 12/30, three days before we were set to take off on our Grand Traverse (Greenstone and Routeburn Track) hike. We spent the first night grabbing a quick dinner and falling asleep early, attempting to adjust to the time change. The next few days were spent fighting off jetlag and exploring the area. While most of New Zealand is a tourist- centric, Queenstown is definitely the most resort like- clean and walkable with great access to the outdoors. 

Places to drink and dine: Luckily, we were in Queenstown for a few nights prior to our hike which gave us the opportunity to check out a few of the local spots. For dinners we went to Lone Star, Public Kitchen, Botswana Butchery and Farelli's. The highlight of these was definitely Botswana Butchery but Public Kitchen and Farelli's were both great options.
Botswana Butchery featured many local dishes and wines and seems to always be completely booked up so make sure you call in advance for reservations! One great option is to have a drink or an appetizer in their upstairs fireside bar (something we did later in the trip!)

When I'm visiting any new city (or even having drinks in my own neighborhood) I love to try out as many new venues as possible and Queenstown was no different. We tried Smith's Craft Beer House, Eichart's, The Bunker, the bar at the Rydges where we were staying and the fireside bar at Botswana Butchery as I mentioned.

Eichart's was my dad's favorite bar so we ended up going three times but I would have happily gone back to Smith's as well. Eichart's was a smaller, more intimate bar with great wines and cocktails situationed inside a hotel, close to a lot of the restaurants. Smith's is also in the center of town but was much more low-key with a great local craft beer menu.

Things to do:We knew we wanted to explore Queenstown but keep it low-key prior to our trek so the first day we did the relatively easy Queenstown Hill Hike to the east of the city. It was a short walk up to the start of the track and an easy climb up the hill to reach a beautiful summit that showcases the areas diverse landscape. Definitely doable for all activity levels.

View from the summit of the Queenstown Hill Hike of Queenstown below
View from the summit of the Queenstown Hill Hike
On the trek up Queenstown Hill
View from the summit of the Queenstown Hill Hike path down to Lake Waktipu

The next day, New Year's Day, we split up with Ryan taking on the difficult Ben Lomand Trail and my parents and I doing the easier One Mile Loop, both near the gondola in town. If we'd had a full day to hike we all would have attempted to Ben Lomand. Ryan reported that it was one of the more beautiful hikes from our entire trip and was relatively quiet, with few people on the track.

View of Ben Lomond Peak with Lake Wakatipu behind
View of Lake Wakatipu from Ben Lomond Peak
The One Mile Loop was a nice trail through the forest which was great for a hot day.

View of Lake Wakatipu from the One Mile Loop
Queenstown was definitely a highlight of the trip and was the perfect way to kick-start our adventure packed month. While most of our trip included one-night stays in each city, I'm glad we were able to spend more time in Queenstown and really explore the area.