The world at your doorstep

Reporter Emma Perry (left) and friend Sofia Yanez-Flores all set to zip through the trees. PHOTOS...
Reporter Emma Perry (left) and friend Sofia Yanez-Flores all set to zip through the trees. PHOTOS: EMMA PERRY
Queenstown’s reputation precedes it. A place containing awe-inspiring natural beauty complete with an encyclopedic list of activities to throw yourself into. Emma Perry explores the spring holiday destination.

While  international travel may not be on the cards any time soon, in Queenstown the world is on your doorstep.

At every turn, you’ll encounter a taste of the world without the need for a plane ride.

If you’re wanting to feel like you’ve really been away on holiday, a spring ski trip is the answer.

High atop a mountain, sun shining, snow beneath your feet and some of the best panoramic views you’ll see make for a magical experience.

With four skifields within an hour’s drive of Queenstown, you’re spoilt for choice.

Ready to fly.
Ready to fly.

Cardrona Alpine Resort is a popular choice and, after a trip through the infamous windy Crown Range, you’ll encounter deep snow, wide open slopes and a selection of five cafes for when you’re too sore to continue.

Having a ski instructor like Bob, whom I can only describe as the best mix between Santa Claus and a witty comedian, made for an even better experience.

Working on the slopes year-round, he has a contagious passion for skiing, and gave me a master class in how to be a more graceful skier.

I may still look like a runaway train whenever it gets steep, but having your own Bob for a lesson is worth every penny.

The Remarkables is a sun trap and, while the views on all the mountains are unbelievable, it might have to take the cake for its views overlooking Queenstown.

If you’re like me, you can accidentally get adventurous and go completely off the trail, finding yourself knee-deep in powdery snow, and end up walking down the mountain rather than skiing.

This season, a new high-speed six-seater chairlift to Sugar Bowl was opened, boasting 2.6km of new trail.

If you can’t decide where to go, a pass can be bought for sister mountains The Remarkables and Coronet Peak, which is good value.

Coronet Peak is the closest skifield to Queenstown and New Zealand’s first commercial skifield.

Once you’re off the mountain and after a long day of adventuring it’s time to treat yourself to some apres-ski and, in Queenstown, you’re spoilt for choice.

The Winery in the heart of Queenstown is just the ticket — literally. You’ll be given a wine card and, with the simple push of a button, you can serve yourself a taste, half-glass or full glass of more than 60 wines, sparkling wines, whisky/whiskey, port or sherry.

Sit by the warm fire, order a deluxe cheese platter — you’ll blink and it will be time for bed. No dinner needed.

If you’re hanging out for some international travel, Brown’s Boutique Hotel is the place to stay. It’s reminiscent of a European villa, and a warm welcome awaits you from charming host Peter-Ray inside.

Peering out through the French doors, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in Tuscany. With 10 rooms in total, it feels more like a home than a hotel, but with all the luxuries you would hope for. With fluffy robes included, it’s southern hospitality at its finest.

Wine and a deluxe cheese platter from The Winery.
Wine and a deluxe cheese platter from The Winery.

If you wish to continue your European adventure pay a visit to Bella Cucina, the Italian restaurant, tucked away in the middle of town, offering wonderful Italian fare.

Much more than pizza and pasta, it hosts an authentic Italian kitchen, with a menu changing daily to incorporate the freshest of produce. Be sure to try the gnocchi.

While we may not be able to go on a South African safari tour any time soon, a close second is Flame Bar and Grill in Queenstown.

Popular with locals, its emphasis is on South African-style meat dishes, including enormous portions of ribs.

It can only feel like New Zealand though when you’re ziplining through the trees overlooking Lake Wakatipu. A short walk from the top of the gondola you’ll stumble across Ziptrek Ecotours. A series of giant flying foxes, ziplining is a great alternative if you’re not quite feeling up to the classic activities of skydiving or bungy jumping.

As you go, your guides will tell you the Maori legend explaining the creation of Lake Wakatipu.

The legend of the creation of the lake, with its distinctive ‘‘S’’ shape, starts with the romantic tale of young warrior Matakauri and the beautiful daughter of a Maori chief, Manata, and ends with a giant on fire, forming the lake.

Afterwards, enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Queenstown during an exciting downhill ride on the luge.

The author with yet more wine and cheese.
The author with yet more wine and cheese.

If you’re looking for something more relaxed, try a boat ride on the Spirit of Queenstown lake cruise, complete with more wine and cheese (that’s all you consume on holiday, right?).

You’re given a front-row seat to some of the South Island’s most beautiful scenery and, with an hour and a-half of cruise time, you more than get your money’s worth.

Looking for somewhere else to stay?

The Queenstown Holiday Inn Express is the new kid on the block. Opened in July, you might actually be the first person to stay in one of the 227 state-of-the-art rooms just a five-minute walk from town.

The number of world-class activities, restaurants and accommodation options available in Queenstown almost seems out of proportion to its size.

From Frank’s Eatery to the newly opened Ferg Bar, there is something for everyone.

Book a trip and explore the world on your doorstep.

Note: Coronet Peak closes on September 27, The Remarkables on October 11 and Cardrona Alpine Resort on October 18. All dates are dependent on snow conditions.

• Emma Perry was hosted by Destination Queenstown.

 

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