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A Perfect Day in Queenstown

Visiting Queenstown, it quickly becomes apparent how busy the city is. The traffic is reaching problem level, and the locals will tell you they are none too pleased. If that’s the case, why is Queenstown so popular? Why do droves of kiwis and tourists alike flock here year-round? Well, the answer is simple: adventure. Honestly, nobody does it better than Queenstown. I can’t think of anywhere that you can go and in the same day take a heli trip, go bungy jumping, wine tasting, jet boating and hiking, all before sitting down to an epic dinner at your lodge or any one of the country’s finest restaurants. It’s busy, but it’s worth it and you will go to sleep with a full belly of food and a head full of adventure and lasting memories.

Here’s how I would put together my “Perfect Queenstown Day”:

7 am – wake up early, make a coffee in the room (they better have Nespresso), and catch up on the day.

8 am – Head down to breakfast while the hotel calls the heli company to double check that the weather is good and that you are ready to fly.

9 am – Turn up at the heli base and check in.

9:15 am – Wheels up! This is always a highlight of any New Zealand trip. We love the Milford Extended trip with Glacier Southern Lakes. If you’re lucky, you may get Alfie, who did aerial filming for the Lord of the Rings movies and knows all the shooting locations. These trips run about two and a half hours and include landings on a glacier, a deserted beach, and a flight down and landing in Milford Sound.

11:45 am – Land back at the airport and head out to Shotover Jet. What’s better than barreling down a narrow canyon in a ridiculously overpowered boat in just a few inches of water? Only Kiwi’s can dream this stuff up. Shotover is a safe and fun way to get your heart rate up, and trust me it never gets old.

12:30 pm – Now you may be on a high and looking to eat. A late lunch at Amisfield Bistro is an excellent way to grab a delicious bite and quench your thirst at the same time. Make sure to save a little room for cheese at the next stop.

2 pm – Time to jump back in the car and keep going. Just a short way up the road is Wet Jacket Vineyard, probably my current favourite in Otago wines. They have a pinot noir that pairs well with a cheese selection from Whitestone, which has a little shop right in the vineyard. Try the vintage blue, it will knock your socks off.

3 pm – Down the road, you’ll come to AJ Hackett Bungy. The historic Kawarau Bridge is the original Bungy location. You can either choose to take the plunge, or just watch a couple of crazy souls plunge into the canyon below.

3:30 pm – It’s almost time for cocktails. From here, I head back into town and drop my car at the hotel for the evening. Have a bit of a rest, and then get changed up for dinner – it’s going to be a good one.

5 pm – Head back into town, and before it closes, pop into Vesta Design, a beautiful little shop set in one of the oldest buildings in Queenstown. They feature fantastic art by local Kiwi artists and always have something beautiful. My most recent obsession are the gorgeous watercolours by Rachel Walker depicting local bird life. I also recommend popping into the Ivan Clarke Gallery to take a look at his whimsical “lonely dog” pieces.

6 pm – Finally time for that cocktail. Pop into Eichardt’s Bar for something strong.

7:30 pm – Time for a short walk and to settle in for a lovely dinner at Rata. We recommend going all out for the $150pp set menu.

10 pm – Time to head to bed (or out on the town) and do it all again tomorrow…

It takes an adventurous soul to do a cheese tasting before going bungy jumping, but Mike’s appetite for life is unquenchable – second only for his appetite for fromage of all sorts. Contact him here for his advice on composing your own New Zealand symphony.

Honestly, nobody does it better than Queenstown.

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