Remarkable Queenstown

Queenstown with The Remarkables beyond.
Queenstown with The Remarkables beyond.

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 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.

The Spirit of Queenstown
The Spirit of Queenstown

They operate daily excursions to Mt Nicholas Station, one of New Zealand's most historic, family run merino sheep stations. Spanning 40,468 hectares (100,000) acres of golden high country terrain, the 45 minute 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 two-hour 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.

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, at the press of a button.

Outside Fergburger on Shotover St
Outside Fergburger on Shotover St

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, 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.

Another great noshing spot is Akarua Wines & Kitchen by Artisan, just up the road by Lake Hayes. Open for breakfast and lunch, the tasty and seasonal food is thoughtfully matched with the purity of Akarua wines.

On Steamer Wharf, graze heartily from the share plates at Public Kitchen & Bar, a convivial celebration of local produce overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the gazillion dollar views. Another recommended fuss-free experience is the Ballarat Trading Company. This is Queenstown's only gastropub, stunningly outfitted in the style of an 1850s trading post.

Boat Shed Café & Bistro.
Boat Shed Café & Bistro.

Going on holiday - don't forget the dog

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.

Mike's parents and dogs.
Mike's parents and dogs.

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 Marine Pde.

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.

Its back-story is fascinating, set in the restored New Zealand Railways Shipping Office. The building was originally used as a store in the 1870s. In 1936 it was bought by Frank Duncan, a Dunedin lawyer, who moved the building from the town centre central Queenstown to its current waterfront location.

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.

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