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When you think about Queenstown, you might think about skiing, snowboarding, hiking.
Maybe your mind immediately jumps, excuse the pun, to bungy-jumping off a bridge or throwing yourself out of a plane.
But what about those of us who simply want a bit of rest and relaxation in New Zealand’s adventure playground?
I approached my weekend in Queenstown with a mixture of excitement and relief. After a busy stretch at work, a trip to the resort town was exactly what I needed.
Even though I lived in Queenstown for a while, and have been back several times since, the view of the Remarkables as you drive around the curve of Lake Wakatipu along Frankton Rd never fails to take my breath away.
Town was quieter than usual, a given now that New Zealand’s borders are firmly shut to the hordes of international travellers who visit Queenstown each year.
I have to admit, it wasn’t altogether unpleasant, although it’s clear many businesses are still hurting.
A key indicator of the slowdown in visitors was that parking, usually at a premium, was easy to come by.
First on the agenda was checking into my home away from home for the weekend.
The Dairy is a quirky boutique hotel in central Queenstown.
The location is ideal — a quick walk down the Brecon St stairs will have you right in the middle of town, while a two-minute walk in the other direction has you at the base of the Skyline gondola.
The interior is lush. Built around Queenstown’s original dairy dating back to the 1920s, its rooms feature striking botanical-themed wallpapers from House of Hackney, large, comfortable beds, and cosy furnishings.
My favourite part of The Dairy was the little touches, from the bags of lollies for guests needing a sugar hit to the side lounge, complete with chessboard, for those wanting a bit of quiet time.
Run by Naumi Hotels, it is a sister-hotel to The Central, another boutique hotel on the other side of the town centre.
The food is best enjoyed tapas style, so you get to sample all of their tasty offerings.
The seared salmon with buttered sour soy, and tender chicken with mung beans and sesame, were standouts. The wine list showcases a great selection of local drops, or if sake is more your style, Tanoshi has an impressive variety available.
After a walk around the lakefront in the late evening sun, it was time to get some shut-eye.
If you’re looking for a relaxing way to wake up and get ready for the day ahead, a yoga class at Nadi Wellness will do the trick.
Stretching out your muscles while looking out over Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables will make you feel like a beacon of health — a good way to start out when you have a wine tour planned for the afternoon! It’s all about balance, people.
He chats away about the history of Gibbston and local vineyards as he drives through the stunning valley to our first stop, Mount Edward, where we enjoy a private wine tasting.
With its gorgeous wall art and resident, very friendly, cat, sitting down for a wine at Mount Edward feels like relaxing at home.
After sampling several of its tasty drops, it was off to Mt Rosa Wines for another round of tastings and a delicious cheese platter.
With the sun starting to come out, we nipped over the road to neighbouring winery Brennan to soak up some rays and
some more wine.
Our final stop was Wet Jacket, a lovely locally owned winery set in a restored woolshed. The outdoor area is a popular stop to kick back and enjoy some live music and a Sunday vino.
While there are plenty of options for wine tours in Gibbston, having a personal guide who knows the area inside and out is a big bonus. Nothing was too much of a hassle for Malcolm, and he was happy to switch things up or take us to whichever wineries we felt like on the day.
The buffet is comprehensive, from fresh seafood and salads to tasty meats, vegetables, and a dessert bar that would make Willy Wonka jealous.
But it’s the views that really make the experience special. From the restaurant you can see right across the lake to the still-snowcapped mountain ranges, a stunning backdrop as the sun goes down.
A relaxing Queenstown weekend would not be complete without a massage, and that was exactly where I headed on Sunday morning.
The Vault at Eichardts offers massages, facials, and a bevvy of other treatments designed to make you feel like a million dollars.
The massage therapist was helpful and flexible, happy to work on any particular knots or sources of tension I had. Who knew you could have exceptionally tense hands? I blame all the frantic typing on deadline.
As someone who was slightly traumatised after a very painful massage in Bali, this was a completely different experience.
For some extra indulgence, you can add a high tea in the spa lounge before heading on your way.
Sitting back with a cuppa and some nibbles before setting off, I was feeling completely at peace with the rest of the world.
• Daisy Hudson travelled as a guest of Naumi Hotels and Destination Queenstown.