Queenstown, Part III (In Town Activities)
When we were done skiing at Cardrona, we found there were a lot of options for entertainment and food in Queenstown. In fact, there was so much to do that I almost feel like we did ourselves a disservice by only spending a day in town. (Almost - skiing was so much fun that I think the real solution is to plan a longer trip next time.)
Where we played:
Skyline Gondola and Luge - This was a huge hit! After finding some creative parking, we purchased tickets to go up the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak just on the edge of the town center. The ride itself is only a couple of minutes long, but the views are phenomenal. At the top, there was an extensive gift shop, separate Jelly Belly shop, and restaurant. We surveyed the food options and decided that we made a mistake by NOT eating lunch there. The food - which ranged from pizzas to Indian - looked pretty good, and the view was unparalleled. We took some pictures on the observation deck and then made our way to the main event: the luge.
My six year old was tall enough to drive a car by himself on the blue track. My four year old had to ride with an adult as she was under 110cm. Honestly, the six year old really wasn’t ready to drive himself. After two turns down the slow, blue track, he asked to ride tandem with an adult so he could go faster. We picked out helmets and climbed aboard our first cars. The instructors gave us some very basic instructions (“pull back to stop.”
Turn the bar left or right to steer.”) and set us free.
My first turn down the luge track I had my daughter with me. We had so much fun! We were squealing and yelling as we careened down the track, nearly flipping the car at one point. It was loads of fun, and really, really cold. Next time I will bring gloves with me as my fingers felt frozen stiff. (Gloves are available for purchase, but I couldn’t quite justify buying another pair of crappy gloves for two more turns down the luge.)
This luge ride was a huge hit, and we’re all itching to go to Rotorua and try the supposedly better one there. Fun fact: the same company runs both luges.
Queenstown Bay Bathhouse Playground - Right off of Marine Parade and the Bathhouse Cafe, there is an incredible playground that was extensively upgraded in 2018. Closest to the cafe are activities for the smallest kids. The farther away from the cafe you get, the more “big kid” oriented the structures are. There is an incredible rope climbing structure, ample swings, seesaws, two incredible slides, and some very cool natural features to explore. There is a huge fallen tree just begging to be climbed and an old school rope swing that crosses a small stream. Of all the things to play with at the park, the most exciting thing for my six year old was catching the rope swing and attempting to make it across. (He did not make it across, and the first time we visited the park we had to make an emergency departure for clean, dry, and warm shoes and pants.)
While we didn’t try out the Bathhouse Cafe, I would’ve loved to sit outside and watch the kids play while enjoying an adult beverage. Alas, that will have to wait until our next trip.
Where we dined:
The Fat Lamb - Our first night we stumbled into The Fat Lamb because it was the first place we saw that had fish and chips on the menu. The kids were grumpy and hungry, so in we went. The service was excellent, the food was heavy (see: The Fat Lamb) but generally pretty good. Jon’s only complaint was the sweet glaze on the lamb ribs. I tried the French onion soup, and while not a traditional FOS with gooey cheese melted on top, it was a delicious, hearty meal that was plenty filling. This restaurant gets a big gold star for having AMAZING jalapeño poppers, which are few are far between in New Zealand.
Farelli’s Trattoria - We wandered into this Italian style eatery for lunch one day as the kids agreed to eat pizza for lunch. Let’s just say it wasn’t our best meal. The service was so-so, the food came out at strange times (the kids’ pizza came out last?!?!?) and the meal wasn’t anything to write home about. This was the place we stumbled into for lunch prior to getting on the Gondola, and the food at Bob’s Peak looked better. I wouldn’t return.
Patagonia Chocolates - For a sweet treat, coffee, or ice cream, GO HERE. This place was incredible. The selection of freshly made desserts and ice creams was to die for. Even better, upstairs there is a glass wall partitioning off additional seating and the magicians behind all of the deliciousness. We got to watch as delicate chocolates were mixed and packed. There’s also an incredible view from the upstairs lounge out towards the water.
Halo Forbidden Bites - This place has a top notch breakfast selection. My muesli with berries and yogurt was fabulous, and the kids loved their pancakes and fluffy. The portions were on the larger side, so this is not the place to go for a light, easy breakfast. It is more of an “eat a lot followed by unbuttoning your pants” kind of place.
Queenstown was such an easy, quick getaway. If you’re new to New Zealand and looking to explore some local places, Queenstown should be on your short list. Its not to be missed.