By Georgi Waddy
By Georgi Waddy
Queenstown has a plethora of alpine activities, four world-class ski areas within a 20-60 minute drive, and three top golf courses five minutes from Arrowtown. If you need a change from skiing and fancy an adrenaline kick, try heli-skiing, dart river jet boating, alpine golf or even dog sledding.
Miss your dog when you are on holiday? Then try this for a change. Drive your own team of huskies or hairy malamutes through some of Wanaka’s fabulous scenery and feel on top of the world, charging through fresh powder pulled by a team of huskies – it’s a unique adventure.
The owners Curt and Fleur have both raced and trained dogs in North America since 2007 and now offer the same service here in New Zealand between July to mid September.
Try it and have the time of your life!
The latest in golf experiences for the true golf enthusiasts.
From the company whose logo states, “Our itinerary is limited only by your imagination,” this is the ultimate in golfing challenges. Situated on the edge of the Southern Alps, the course drives off the white stuff with both attitude and altitude.
At 4500 feet high in the Southern Alps, overlooking Queenstown, access is only by helicopter; the par 3 golf course has only four tee boxes and sets some real challenges. After your final putt ( if you don’t manage that elusive hole in one) fly out again – pure luxury golfing but not for the faint-hearted!
Travel like the royal family, jet boating down the Dart River deep into Mt Aspiring’s National Park, untouched and unspoilt. Or for a unique New Zealand experience try funyakking down the Dart River travelling in your own time, the best way to enjoy New Zealand’s unique river systems and get up ‘close and personal’ with nature and the crystal clear water.
After exploring the mountain air, head out to one of Queenstown’s bars for the ultimate in bar experiences;
At the front of the heritage stone and timber walled Eichardt’s Hotel is one of the town’s best-kept secrets, the hotel bar. The hotel itself is steeped in history and today it is a five star hotel, a member of the small luxury hotels of the world, and overlooks our very own Lake Wakatipu.
The infamous ground floor bar is perfect for a pre or post dinner drink, with roaring open fire and comfy sofas, and the best cocktail list and views in town. What more could you ask for? Believe me its not easy place to leave. Be tempted by the tapas menu or the fish chowder and you might want to stay all night…
Perfect for an après ski drink or for a light lunch of pizza and pinot in front of the always-stoked fire. As the name suggests, the bar is easy enough to find but hard to leave. Recently No 5 has celebrated its first birthday…
The daily cocktail menu is ever changing and the waiters are happy to make you any concoction – one new addition to the winter cocktails list this season is the Baked Apple Toddy. Made from organic, handpicked apples from local orchards, apples are baked with a house blend of spices, vanilla, and brown sugar, and steeped with Chivas Regal Scotch whisky, lemon juice, and hard apple cider. Served piping hot, it’s the perfect way to round off a trip to one of the world’s best winter destinations.
Now to the food. Nowadays there are so many fabulous food places in Queenstown and the area its hard to pull yourself away to go skiing…
Since it opened in 2008 the Botswana Butchery, as the name suggests, has proven to offer the perfect protein boost with New Zealand’s finest meat dishes after a day of high alpine activity.
The hearty menu is big on local cuts but also includes local seafood, all served with an extensive New Zealand wine list.
Located in the historic Archers Cottage overlooking gorgeous Lake Wakatipu, the location couldn’t be better if you tried. There’s room for drinks, overlooking the lake, near their outside fire and and you’ll savour an international buzz with people from all over the world.
The property is a large house with two levels of dining rooms, divided into intimate dining areas and bigger spaces suitable for larger groups.
Dinner and lunch menus can be matched to Central Otago wines and international wines from their 1800 bottle cellar. The emphasis is on fine cut beef with plenty of choices, and the best ingredients the local area can offer.
An award-winning restaurant, with impeccable cooking skills from owner operator, Josh Emmett, who worked in London under Gordon Ramsay for a time.
Josh wanted to do something different and moved away from the hustle and bustle of ‘town’ to find a unique location, surrounded by heritage buildings, to suit its more earthy namesake.
A great place to unwind and enjoy good food and great wine at its best. Offering an extensive menu, the current menu at Rata is serving green lip mussels, escabeche, saffron, kohlrabi and sorrel to start, followed by merino lamb cassoulet, merguez sausage, savoy cabbage and white beans, as a main. Choice is wide but the buttermilk pannacotta with saffron pears and cranberry sorbet took my fancy. Belt loosening stuff!
The restaurant interiors are inspired by nature and our Southern untouched landscape, pieces bought to age seamlessly, and to fit the wild New Zealand landscape. A perfect choice for all day eating with emphasis on slow cooked dishes with robust flavours.
A short 20 minute drive from Queenstown is Arrowtown, an old gold mining town with some well-hidden food gems – we picked a few of our favourites.
Named after the succulent plant, with large fleshy leaves, found predominantly in Mexico, the restaurant lives up to its namesake, delivering Mexican food with a twist of succulent fillings.
Prices are simple and shared plates the norm; some of the choices not to be missed are blue cod soft shell tacos with lettuce, fresh ‘Pico de gallo’, avocado crema and aioli, or the kumara and sweet corn filled enchiladas. Options are big and thoughtful.
The setting suits casual eating, quick service is ‘king’ and a perfect place to eat before a movie at Dorothea Brown’s, www.dorotheabrowns.com, or an afternoon alpine walk up the Feehly Hill Track. Or for the more adventurous, there’s a seven hour round trip on the Big Hill Track. Don’t miss the Blue Door for a pre dinner drink, one of the best kept secrets in town, near impossible to find even for locals but well worth it once you do – tiny and quaint.
Owned and run by Chris and Fee Whiting, Chop Shop opened 20 months ago and is a roaring success. Chris spent time working as a private chef in the Hamptons before returning to New Zealand, and soon after opening he was so busy that he decided to advertise for four full time chefs; they’ve had ‘swinging doors’ ever since.
“People crave something different so we change our menu regularly”, Chris explains, “I always wanted just a cooking studio for myself and that’s kind of what I’m doing, but people know they’re getting really good food because we change menus so often,” he says. Some of the favourites have been Turkish eggs and Bang Bang chicken. Diners get the freshest seasonal food as nothing is static for long.
Dishes are delicately composed for lunch and dinner, coffee is to die for, and the back alley setting, away from the crowds is vintage industrial, with a wall of metal tiles. The quirky interiors include a collection of lampshades made from ‘up cycled’ bike wheels and chains which hang above the counter.
Other favourites have been Japanese pork belly pancakes and tempura bluff oyster sliders, or corn fritters with pan-baked salmon. We couldn’t fit in the ricotta pancakes with tamarillos whilst we were there but hope they will be on offer to try next time.
Named after Barcelona’s famous food precinct, La Rumbla is another adventurous success story owned by Penelope Johnson and Sam Gruar. Opening in 2013, it complements the Chop Shop, adding music, disc jockey and a tapas menu. It never disappoints. Service is speedy and buzzy and perfect for a bit more upbeat alpine fun, without having to venture too far away. Be tempted by great food from both these two restaurants and try the not-to-be-missed pulled pork and bean empanadas.
For some of the best of Queenstown’s breakfast venues try Vudu Café & Larder. All day breakfasts from 7.30am ’til 4pm, “Vudu Café & Larder in Queenstown is the sexier sister establishment to the long standing Vudu Café – where Melbourne cool meets Queenstown.” NZ Sunday Star Times 2011
The latest brainchild from the Vudu group is the Café & Larder on Rees Street, perfectly positioned with two entrances, one for locals and one for tourists.
On the wall is a huge aerial shot of Queenstown circa 1950s, which sets the tone for the modern and industrial interiors. Preserving jars hang gracefully upside down breaking the narrow space, with views of street action at one end and the lake and mountains at the other.
The food is always changing and continues to impress. Breakfasts can consist of butternut and buckwheat pancakes, chai spiced winter porridge or eggs Benedictine with either local salmon or bacon. For lunch the lemon panko blue cod sounds enticing and the organic beef burger with tomato and chilli jam, homemade coleslaw, onion rings and agria fries, could suffice if you can’t wait for one down the road at the famous Fergburger takeaway.
Food choices are huge; free range, spelt bread, gluten free, local preserves, roasted vanilla bean yoghurt, vegan bircher muesli, or try their famous Tunisian orange cake, the list goes on. Something for everyone and a formula that keeps the crowds coming back for more.
I grabbed one of the owners to describe a breakfast she loved, and this was her reply: “Poached eggs on kumara and potato hash with grilled halloumi, with a hazelnut, basil and spring onion crust with a homemade sweet chilli jam.” Well worth a visit. Say no more.
New to the Queenstown food scene is Graze, which opened six months ago on the banks of Lake Hayes, a perfect spot to eat breakfast, lunch or coffee after a lake stroll.
Designed by Auckland interior designer, Paul Izzard Design (PID), it is quickly becoming a must visit destination, and the first ever sustainably heated outside bench seats have proven to be a hit with locals and visitors alike.
Graze embraces everything. It’s open all day so captures the breakfast crowd before walking, and the coffee crowd after. They brew their own beer, make their own pies and bread, and by night become a high-end restaurant with a three-course menu – offering so much is a challenging task but proving to be popular.
Food is good and hearty classics and they have a nightly ‘a la carte’ menu and a string of social events to entice punters, the latest being the ‘flight of the honey bee’ with a menu to match.
A sample from the latest menu includes roasted pork belly with crackling, garlic and herb potatoes, roasted butternut and Jerusalem artichokes, and wintergreens with an apple cider jus; quite the winter warmer….
Dog Sledding, www.underdognz.co.nz, tel: 027 516 5502
Over the Top Golf, www.overthetopgolf.co.nz
Dart River, www.dartriver.co.nz
Eichardt’s Bar, www.eichardts.com, Marine Parade, Queenstown, 03 441 0450
No5 Church lane, www.no5churchlane.com
Botswana Butchery, www.botswanabutchery.co.nz, 17 Marine Parade Queenstown, Tel: 03 442 6994
Rata, www.ratadining.co.nz, Te Nuku, 43 Ballarat St, Queenstown
Agave, www.saffronrestaurant.co.nz, 18 Buckingham St, Arrowtown, 03 4420131
The Chop Shop Food Merchants, Arrowtown, 7 Arrow Lane Arrowtown, 03 442 1116
La Rumbla Wine Bar, 54 Buckingham St., Arrowtown. 03 4420509
Vudu Café and Larder, 16 Rees St, Queenstown, 034418370
Graze, www.grazenz.co.nz, 1 Onslow Rd., Lake Hayes estate Tel: 034414074