Queenstown is the pleasure centre of New Zealand’s South Island. [caption id="attachment_14833" align="aligncenter" width="870"] Bespoke kitchen[/caption] Flying into Queenstown, all eyes are out the window as passengers eagerly wait to cross the snow-capped mountains. Living here on the beautiful Sunshine Coast, we seldom have a true break in seasons, let alone experience snow, which is why an escape to New Zealand is something my husband and I aim for once a year. The South Island of New Zealand is superb all year ‘round, particularly in autumn when the colourful foliage is ablaze, and of course winter, when it transforms into a wonderland. Having spent two weeks in the Otago region in April/May, we were blessed with a little of both, but I have been told that the perfect time to catch the autumnal colour is at the beginning of April. With direct flights from Brisbane to Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin, the South Island is easily accessible, regardless of the type of holiday you’re chasing. Canvassing the whole island in a motorhome is always a popular option, as you’re able to take in the sights along the way and experience all of the intricacies each region has to offer. I’ve found that two weeks is the magical amount of time to spend in NZ, whether you’re going for a driving vacation or wanting to wind down and relax, spending more time in one specific town or region. Having done the motorhome trip a few times before, this time we concentrated on the Otago region, taking a one-night detour to Fox Glacier and Lake Matheson on the West Coast.
Known for being the tourism mecca of New Zealand, Queenstown has a plethora of adventure activities on offer such as jet boating, skydiving, hot air ballooning, bungy jumping, zip lining, quad bike tours and many more.Shotover Jet is the most exhilarating of the jet boating, reaching speeds of over 85kph through the narrow Shotover Canyons, an ideal option for people like me, who want a taste of adventure but aren’t quite brave enough to launch themselves out of a plane or off a bridge! Another popular activity is the Skyline Luge at the top of the lookout in town. Take the gondola to the peak and soak up the views overlooking Queenstown and bordering mountain ranges, before whipping around the luge track. For the skiers out there, Queenstown is considered the ultimate playground, nestled in the heart of the Southern Alps and boasting four local ski fields; Cardrona Alpine Resort, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Treble Cone. Having worked up quite an appetite, now’s the perfect time to indulge in some of the delicious eateries in town. Fergburger is by far the most popular, with people lining up for hours to grab one of their famous burgers. Tip: place a phone order, rather than physically lining up, as you skip the queue! My favourite breakfast spots are Vudu Larder & Cafe, Bespoke Kitchen, and Yonder; and for lunch or dinner, I highly recommend Botswana Butchery (bookings essential) which is renowned for its delicious selection of locally-caught meat, modern-Asian restaurant Madame Woo, and woodfired pizza joint, Winnie’s. Then there are the sweets – Patagonia Chocolates is an absolute must, as is Fergbaker next to Fergburger. Most cafes also have a wide selection of traditional slices, including ginger crunch and lolly cake. The Central Otago region is also a lavish fruit bowl, with orchards and wineries featuring heavily throughout. In fact, some of New Zealand’s best Pinot Noir is produced in this region and is the dominant grape variety, but you will also find Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. Having indulged in the gourmet offerings of the region, you may wish to walk it off. Among the most popular walking trails are the three-hour Queenstown Hill Loop; the Tiki Trail starting at the bottom of the gondola and finishing at the lookout; Ben Lomond Walkway, a five to eight-hour journey depending on conditions taking you to Ben Lomond’s 1748m summit; the wheelchair-friendly Frankton Arm Walkway alongside Lake Wakatipu; the Sunshine Bay Track to Sunshine Bay’s jetty with a sidetrack leading to a waterfall on Two Mile Creek Falls; and the two-hour Lake Hayes Loop. [caption id="attachment_15432" align="aligncenter" width="870"] Aoraki/Mount Cook[/caption]