Six Ways to Have a Jam-Packed Getaway in Queenstown
Float to 6000 feet on a balloon tour, hit a backcountry cycle trail and then unwind by an outdoor firepit.
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International travel might be off the cards, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a world-class getaway right here on home soil. Queenstown has no shortage of sights and activities to create a jam-packed itinerary. It might be called New Zealand's adventure capital, but that doesn't mean your next holiday needs to be based around high-flying thrills and snow sports — the region is also known for its postcard scenery, backcountry cycle trails, bustling weekend markets and delicious wine. Together with Holiday Inn Express & Suites, we've compiled six activities so you can have a jam-packed getaway in Queenstown.
SHOP LOCAL AT THE REMARKABLES MARKET
An unmissable Queenstown weekend destination is the Remarkables Market. Just ten minutes from the city in Frankton, the market is where you'll find locals stopping in for a caffeine hit and lounging about on the grass. Shopping wise, you can pick up everything from chopping boards crafted out of French wine barrels to the famous Gibbston cheese and handcrafted jewellery. Zamora is one of the most popular stallholders at the market with its infamous pork belly sandwich. We suggest grabbing a spot at one of the communal tables and finishing off your experience with one of Plantera's vegan sweets.
FLOAT TO 6000 FEET ON A HOT AIR BALLOON TOUR
Sunrise Balloons is a family-owned operation which has been flying in the Queenstown region since 1998. The company's hot air balloon tours rise to altitudes as high as 6000 feet, drifting over the rugged terrain that makes up the incredible region around Queenstown. Expect to see filming locations from The Hobbit and majestic landmarks like the Southern Alps, Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range. You'll get to help inflate the balloon and then pack it way, before finishing with a celebratory muffin and champagne in the landing field. Flights depart at dawn and last three to four hours.
EXPLORE MORE THAN 75 WINERIES IN GIBBSTON VALLEY
A short drive from Queenstown is Gibbston Valley, a region which is home to more than 75 wineries and cellar doors. For great wine in a picturesque setting we recommend dropping by Chard Farm. A visit to the family-owned winery in the Kawarau Gorge will lead you up a windy dirt road that was once part of the main coach link between Queenstown and Cromwell. The vineyard sits at the top and specialises in complimentary pinot noir tastings. Across the road is Penegrine, which feels more like steeping into a futuristic wine lab. Here, tastings are also complimentary and come with the option of choosing particular vintages or leaving your destiny in the hands or the host. If you'd rather leave the car at home, Alpine Wine Tours specialises in personalised excursions. Tours include a three-hour hop between cellar doors and a full-day trip through local vineyards and the Cardrona Distillery. Water, cheese tastings and transport to and from your accommodation are all included.
COSY UP WITH A DRINK BY AN OUTDOOR FIREPIT
Holiday Inn Express & Suites arrived in Queenstown earlier this year, bringing 227 spacious rooms to the heart of the picturesque resort town. The property's prime central location means that you're never short of breathtaking views and within easy reach of iconic attractions, from popular ski destinations and the Central Otago wine region to extreme outdoor adventures like mountain biking and bungy jumping. The hotel's outdoor firepit lounge is the perfect spot to unwind after a day of exploring. Sit back with a glass of Central Otago pinot in the modern and comfortable lounge and then soak in the views of Queenstown's surrounding mountain range. The unlimited uncapped free wi-fi will also come in handy when planning your next big adventure.
HIT A BACKCOUNTRY CYCLE TRAIL FROM ARROWTOWN TO QUEENSTOWN
To really get your legs working, Around the Basin is a company offering both self-guided and supported cycle tours through the Gibbston wine region and backcountry. The Arrowtown to Queenstown tour is a 35-kilometre ride from the historic gold mining village back to the city. After shuttling from Queenstown you'll be left to make your way along the Arrow River Trail along the Kawarau and Shotover Rivers to the shores of Lake Wakatipu. The trail is recommend as a full-day ride, which allows plenty of time for exploring, photo opportunities and refreshment stops. On the trail you'll cover everything from isolated country roads and dirt tracks to swing bridges and pine forests.
EXPERIENCE A MODERN INTERPRETATION OF NZ CUISINE AT AMISFIELD
Amisfield executive chef Vaughan Mabee enlists expert foragers and charcutiers to ensure he's only using the freshest seasonal produce in his three-hatted restaurant. That dedication to championing the Central Otago region has seen the restaurant use backyard endemic ingredients and produce found no further than 250 kilometres from its dramatic stonework bistro. Previous hyperlocal creations have included everything from paua salami to kawakawa parfait and manuka smoked blue cod pie. Diners are invited to build their own degustation from a selection of dishes. For lunch, that might mean a starter of eel on toast, smoked raw wild deer with local chocolate, or a wild apple and kawakawa tart.
Published on October 28, 2020 by Stephen Heard