Near the bottom of South Island is Queenstown – home to all of those New Zealand activities like throwing yourself off bridges on an elastic band, hurtling through canyons on jet boats with an inch to spare and all manner of other dangerous looking stuff.
The first scare is the landing between mountains – landing by sight only/ no auto pilot allowed – a few flights get canceled as they can’t risk it in bad weather… Some diversion airports are 8 hours away which must be very annoying if you have to use one. Despite this, the flight in is fantastic with incredible views.
Queenstown came into existence due to the discovery of gold in Victorian times, they are still digging; but now in the tourist pocket… Everything is slightly more expensive than anywhere else: taxis, supermarkets, restaurants and even the bus.
It’s not ‘Monte Carlo’ expensive, just a bit more and whilst you can see why (the remoteness and the gorgeous setting) it does seem slightly odd considering that large parts of the market are aimed at young back packers – particularly the extreme sports stuff. A tandem parasail from the top of a local mountain (served by cable car to viewing platform) is $195 (£81, at our current generous exchange rate) – which seems a lot to me… A bottle of New Zealand Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc is £9 in the supermarket – which is £1.50 more than Waitrose in Harborne!!!
There is a wide selection of restaurants, but some of them are frankly trying to hard; for your delectation…
Rack of southland lamb, garlic labne with macadamia nut crust, truffled native potatoes, braised lamb neck and wild mushrooms en crepinette, steamed piko piko, vincotto jus, candied shallots, parmesan and bell pepper tuille.
… is one menu item description that I would have to say is a step too far, and what the hell is a crepinette? I blame all those bloody celebrity chef programs.
Perhaps not surprisingly the busiest place in town is Willies Pizza Bar – which is about a £5 for the small pizza and seems to be rammed every night – good luck to them.
Don’t take any of the above as criticisms of the place as a whole – it is very pleasant here, folk are laid back and the scenery is just fantastic.
Fantastic trip, checkout the web site below…