Considered the adventure capital, Queenstown is a scenic resort town located in the south-west of New Zealand. Genevieve Rosen-Biller, journalist-turned-entrepreneur and creator of French flax linen bedding company Bed Threads, shares her insights from extreme sports and total relaxation to wineries and epic landscapes. Immerse yourself in the beauty and scope of this city.
What is the most sophisticated hotel or boutique stays in Queenstown?
I like Eichardt’s, a boutique hotel with a sweeping view of Lake Wakatipu, located just 20 minutes away from Coronet Peak. The location is incredible, of course, but the hotel itself is a destination in its own right. The property is a restored historical site with all the trimmings of a luxury hotel: open fireplaces, antique furniture, and an onsite restaurant.
Where can we find the best gastronomy and bar experiences?
Start your day overlooking Lake Wakatipu with a coffee from The Bathhouse Café, situated next to the entrance to Queenstown Botanic Gardens.
For breakfast, head to The Chop Shop Food Merchants in Arrowtown. It’s a hidden gem with no obvious signage from the street, with coffee and hotcakes that make the trip worth it.
Long lunches and Queenstown’s unparalleled scenery go hand-in-hand, and Amisfield Winery is a beautiful vineyard that boasts cosy fireplaces and an incredible food and wine experience with options for vegetarians.
Another great spot for lunch is Francesca’s, located about an hour’s drive away in Wanaka. The drive itself is beautiful – as is its famous gnocchi. Once you’re there, head to Rippon Winery for a tasting (they’re famous for their biodynamic wines) and 360-degree views of Wanaka.
For dinner, try Bella Cucina Italian, a small eatery with rustic décor, copper accents and art lining the walls. Their menu changes daily as the ingredients are sourced locally.
What are the essential cultural and historical experiences in Queenstown?
You simply cannot skip a trip to the Milford Sound – the fjord is often coined the world’s ‘eighth wonder’, and a ride through its captivating combination of mountain peaks, kilometre-high cliffs, and water dotted with wildlife is surreal and unreal.
From hot air balloon to bicycle, what is the best way to tour or take in the grandeur of Queenstown?
If you can handle it, skydive. New Zealand’s adventure capital from above is unforgettable. (Although, you’ll probably only take it in afterwards.) Hiring a bike and cycling around is a less nerve-busting experience, and a slower way to take in Queenstown’s beauty.
Renowned for skiing and adventure sports like bungee jumping and jet-boating, what are the top picks for thrill-seekers?
Jet-boating is a happy medium between hurling yourself out of a plane and cycling around the town – while it’s adrenalin-inducing, it’s a reasonable activity if you’re travelling with kids (or the risk-averse).
For skiing and snowboarding, The Remarkables mountain range, about a 40-minute drive from Queenstown, is as spectacular as its name suggests. With gentle beginner slopes to daring advanced runs that aren’t for the faint-hearted, soak in the white powdery snow and sensational panoramic view.
What is Queenstown’s prominent fashion, lifestyle and home boutiques or shopping destinations?
Angel Divine stock premium homegrown designers, plus a range of Australian and International mainstays.
Seletti Concept Store is also worth perusing. They have an impressive range Aesop skincare (useful if your complexion is suffering after all those high-adventure activities), homewares and a beautiful range of their own candles, which look as good as they smell.
The locations of your favourite scenic walks or drives?
A favourite is the drive from Queenstown to Wanaka that oscillates between snow-topped mountain vistas and rambling fields. Another is the drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy; filled with lush, green scenery and cliffside seascapes dotted with lookouts (and ample photo opportunities) along the way.
Do you have any bespoke luxury experiences to recommend?
For an experience that offers unprecedented luxury in a rugged natural setting, book in at the Onsen Hot Pools. Here you can take in Queenstown’s splendour from your own private hot pool – a truly invigorating experience in which you’re served local drops alongside expansive views of the town’s remarkable scenery. Once your hour is up, prolong the experience with a hot stone massage onsite.
Are there any neighbouring towns or cities we must visit when travelling to Queenstown?
Arrowtown is great for shopping and a bite to eat. Wanaka is a must see for its unmatched natural beauty, hikes and snow-capped mountains.
How long do you recommend staying in Queenstown and what should we pack?
I’ve only ever travelled to Queenstown in the winter and five days is more than enough to recharge and reinvigorate (although given the opportunity I could stay months.) Pack warm – lots of layers are essential.