An Alpine-Chic 48-Hours in Queenstown, New Zealand
Food & Wine
Nestled at the base of the Southern Alps, Queenstown is one of New Zealand’s most scenic cities, but this nature-lover’s paradise offers much more than beautiful surroundings. From adrenaline-pumping adventures to world-renowned wineries, there are activities, eateries and natural sites to excite every traveler. Experience it all with a healthy blend of outdoor excursions, local culture, and luxe relaxation.
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Where to stay
Sofitel Queenstown - Hotel & Spa
Sophisticated alpine hotel with a French hospitality proposal, onsite spa and adventure-forward experiences.
$100 food / beverage credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Eichardt's Private Hotel
Absolutely stunning premium lakefront hotel in the heart of Queenstown — perfect for a wedding.
The Dairy Private Hotel by Naumi Hotels
With views of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range, this charming hotel on a former dairy offers exquisite rooms featuring botanical themed wallpapers from House of Hackney.
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Day 1: Beyond the vines
Mōrena! Start your day at Bespoke Kitchen, where glorious pastries and fresh-pressed juices offer a morning kickstart. If you’d like to enjoy a picnic lunch later, choose some goodies from the cabinet, like grilled chicken wraps and sticky ginger cake.
Queenstown is well known for its world class wineries – especially when it comes to pinot noir. Gibbston Valley Winery and Kinross are local standbys, but you should also visit boutique cellar doors like Chard Farm. For that special occasion, Central Otago legend Amisfield can’t be missed.
Queenstown’s wineries are best explored by bicycle or guided tour (private or small group), which I can gladly arrange. Many wineries serve beautiful charcuterie platters or multi-course lunches, so you can casually graze or enjoy a gourmet experience. The choice is yours!
After freshening-up at the hotel, dinner is served at Blue Kanu. Dishes like Fijian ceviche and sticky pork belly are menu favorites, with dishes highlighting both Pacifica and Asian flavors and food traditions.
End the evening with a nightcap at Eichardt’s Bar. Open since 1867, this sophisticated lounge serves champagne, cocktails and light nibbles, including their famous seafood chowder.
Day 2: Arrowtown & adrenaline
Another day, another adventure. As the birthplace of bungee jumping, Queenstown has no shortage of high-voltage activities. For true adrenaline junkies, NZONE Skydive is the best in the business for Queenstown freefall. Their amazing crew made me feel comfortable enough to backflip from 12,000 feet – what a rush!
For spectacular views without the stomach-drop, The Helicopter Line sweeps passengers over the rugged landscapes of the Southern Alps. Most flights feature an alpine landing for an incredible glacial photo-op.
For families with children (or the more fainthearted) a gentle gondola ride with Skyline Queenstown rewards guests with panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu, and an optional luge ride down the mountain.
Back on solid ground, head to nearby Arrowtown for a taste of the region. This postcard-perfect village was once a gold mining town, but is now surrounded by scenic stone cottages and vineyards. For lunch, settle in with a pint at The Fork and Tap, a classic Kiwi pub, and don’t skip their rosemary-dusted polenta fries.
Enjoy the charming boutiques, art galleries, coffee shops and historic sites scattered around Arrowtown this afternoon, and don’t forget to make dinner reservations for an early supper. La Rumbla and Aosta are both fabulous choices.
Finally, drive back to Queenstown for a stylish farewell at The Sundeck Rooftop Bar. Winter or summer, rain or shine, this skyline bar is always swinging with an electric crowd.
Day 3: Discover local favorites
Every dish is a delight at The Boatshed Cafe, perched on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. The blueberry french toast is a personal favorite! After breakfast, check out Country Lane Queenstown, a hidden gem for boutique shopping. Browse books, vintage clothing, and honey from local vendors, like The Buzzstop.
While Queenstown is a great basecamp, you’ll want to explore further afield. This afternoon, make the easy 1-hour drive to Bannockburn to discover one of the region’s best wineries, Te Kano Estate. If more wine tastings are on the menu, continue on to Carrick Winery and Mount Difficulty Wines.
Lunch at The Stoaker Room is always a good choice. Most of their menu is cooked outside in converted wine barrels, which add a delicious oak-and-smoke flavor to local lamb, pork and veggie dishes. Be sure to stroll through Historic Cromwell before driving back to Queenstown for the evening.
Queenstown’s famous Fergburger is never without a queue, so join the line early to secure a prime NZ beef burger (you can’t go wrong with the classic Ferg Deluxe). Finish your dinner indulgence the proper way––with a creamy gelato from Patagonia Chocolates.
Onsen Hot Pools are popular for a reason, and reservations are required. Offering both daytime and evening bookings, clever guests can experience both by snagging a time slot during sunset (between 9-10pm in the summer months). Soak in a cedar tub, sip champagne, and watch the moon rise over the Shotover River.
Need to Know
For more New Zealand travel tips, check out my guide, Experiencing Auckland, New Zealand.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to New Zealand.