Destination Dispatch: Queenstown


A destination dispatch will never replace a great guidebook, a detail-oriented travel memoir, or a thorough travel guide. It is simply a short and sweet summary of my own travel experience, designed to give you the flavor of a place.

I lived in Queenstown, New Zealand for six months where I worked as an au pair, hiked all over the Central Otago region, and sipped flat whites in every cafe imaginable. 

If you’ve got an upcoming trip to Queenstown, New Zealand planned, this destination dispatch is a great place to start your research. If not, let this report transport you to New Zealand’s adventure capital for a minute or two.

Where: Queenstown, New Zealand

When: Queenstown is a mountain town, so you’ll need to be prepared for crisp evenings and refreshing mornings whenever you travel to Queenstown. I love February for great hiking, but if you’re a skier or snowboarder, you’ll want to be in Queenstown in August. 

Do: Ben Lomond Saddle to Summit hike. This is not for the faint of heart or for the hiking novices, but it’s easily one of the best hikes in New Zealand and isn’t to be missed. If an 8-mile hike isn’t your speed, just walk along the boardwalk heading southwest along Lake Esplanade road for a nice lakeside stroll.

View: The view from the top of Skyline Gondola is simply gorgeous. The hike I recommended also starts from this viewpoint. You can avoid the expensive gondola ticket by hiking up the hill (but it’s steep!) or purchase a seasonal gondola pass if you’re sticking around Queenstown for a while. 

Pack: A good pair of hiking shoes are essential for me in New Zealand. I’m a complete convert for the Salomon brand and own these Outline Gore Tex shoes myself. Boots aren’t necessary for most hikes, and the street style is casual enough to get a lot of use from these. 

Stay: The JUCY Snooze hostel in Queenstown is in a great location and has a nice “pod” setup. 

Shop: The little t-shirt shop called Roam Clothing on Shotover Street is a great place for high quality tees. 

Eat: For brunch or lunch, it’s Bespoke Kitchen for me. For dinner, I’d choose Hawker & Roll Malaysian street food over the famous Fergburger. It’s just not worth the hour(s) long wait.

Drink: For me, Odelay Cafe has the best coffee in Queenstown. I really felt like I was living like a local when I became a regular there. It’s in the Remarkables Park area near the Queenstown airport. 

Read: Wild Journeys by Bruce Ansley is a great ode to adventure all throughout New Zealand.

Want to add more New Zealand books to your list? Click over to my article of the Best Books to Read Before You Travel to New Zealand

Watch: While it wasn’t filmed or set in Queenstown, you won’t be able to go far without hearing someone talk about The Lord of the Rings movies in New Zealand. 

Listen: Vagabond by Handsome and Gretyl not because it has any specific ties to Queenstown, but because it’s a great song for road-tripping, adventuring, and wandering. 

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