With spring in bloom across our adventure capital, the razored ridgeline of the Remarkables was still flecked in snow on my recent swing through Queenstown, accentuating the resort town’s cinematic good looks.
The gracious old lady of the lake, TSS Earnslaw, was faithfully plying Wakatipu’s waters, but eager for a fresh scoop of floating pleasure, I boarded Southern Discoveries’ gleaming catamaran.
They operate daily excursions to Mt Nicholas Station, one of New Zealand’s most historic, family-run Merino sheep stations. Spanning 40,500ha of golden high country terrain, the 45min scenic cruise down Lake Wakatipu affords glorious vistas of Mt Earnslaw, Cecil Peak, and the tucked away valley beneath Mt Creighton, where the Hollywood set have reportedly purchased homes, including Arnie Schwarzenegger and John Travolta.
Arriving at Mt Nicholas Station, you have a variety of add-on sightseeing options including a 4WD safari, a 2hr high country walk or the woolshed experience.
I opted for the latter, which was a wonderfully hands-on exposition of merino wool’s journey from fresh fleece to top-end clothing.
All Mt Nicholas Station merino wool is sold to Icebreaker. As a premium wine-growing region, swooned over for its pinot noir, a swirl of wine trail tours can whisk you across the vineyards of the Gibbston Valley and beyond.
If you’re short on time, visit The Winery, a one-stop-tasting shop in the heart of Queenstown where you can taste over 80 wines, including several dozen delicious pinot noirs.
All of the industry’s rockstars are showcased, including Valli Bannockburn, Mt Difficulty, Black Ridge and Amisfield.
Complement your wine sampling, by grazing from a flavourful platter of local cheese, salami and olives. Speaking of food, you’ve surely heard about the insatiably cultish following that consumes the footpath of Shotover St, outside Fergburger.
Some locals are particularly huffy about the constant tangle of humanity crowding the footpath outside the burger store, which is open 21 hours a day.
Phone ahead and track your order on the website. These decadently delicious gourmet creations are sinfully good. My pick? The Bun Laden – fiery, succulent and you’ll be back for more.
Trending noticeably amongst many Kiwis holidaying within New Zealand is the desire to trip away with your dogs.
I accompanied my parents and their two furry friends on their recent short-break in Queenstown. The resort town probably isn’t top of mind when it comes to affordable paw-friendly holiday destinations, but a highly recommended roost, within walking distance of the town centre is Pinewood Lodge.
Walking options abound in Queenstown and we gave the pooches some solid workouts on a variety of trails including the stunning Mt Creighton track and the gorgeous loops around Queenstown Gardens and
Heading east from the town centre, the Frankton Arm Walkway is an absolute heart-stealer, with its unobstructed lake and mountain views.
We enjoyed coffee and a sticky date scone, with crème and raspberries, at the characterful – and pooch-friendly – Boat Shed Café & Bistro.
From The Boat Shed, the gravel walkway wends its way along the shoreline to Frankton, passing a quaint parade of rustic Kiwi cribs – a laid-back world away from the glitz and pretence of some of Queenstown’s more recent glamour pad developments.
They’re anything but flashy. It is such a great antidote to savour this unmolested vestige of old Queenstown.
•I booked my pooch-friendly Queenstown accommodation through Booking.com which has an excellent filter, highlighting lodging options for pets, in the destination of your choice. It’s such a great time-saver, eliminating the fuss of having to check with the property whether dogs are welcome. By the way, there are actually 14 listed pet-friendly options in Queenstown. With nearly 6000 New Zealand accommodation options listed, Booking.com properties include an array of options from hotels and apartments to holiday homes and campsites. Whether you’re on the website or via the app, Booking.com is easy to use with deals and total flexibility. www.booking.com