Tuesday, 15 March 2016

New Zealand - Queenstown

I was so excited to arrive in Queenstown.  I had read all about Taylor Swift flying into Queenstown the week before.  Once our tour bus entered Queenstown, we could see beautiful deep blue waters and majestic green mountains.  The roads were narrow and steep but the town itself wasn’t very big.  We headed for the Skyline Gondolas that would take us up to the Skyline Restaurant where we would be having dinner. 

View of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu from Skyline Restaurant
The Skyline Gondola is basically a cable car.  The cable car ride was rather frightening for me as we ascended almost vertically!  We could see sheep grazing leisurely on the mountains.  When we arrived at the top, we were treated to an incredible view of Queenstown.  Of course, there were plenty of tourists snapping away happily and posing for photographs.  I could see why people would come all the way to this tiny place. 

Yes, I ate all of these
Dinner was wonderful.  The restaurant had great views of Queenstown, although we weren’t seated next to the windows.  The buffet spread was very good!  I stuffed myself silly with all the delicious food.  The desserts were so amazing and I had the best pavlova of my trip.  I hadn’t eaten quite this well since I arrived in New Zealand.  I was sad that we had to leave the restaurant to go on a small “city tour” as specified on the tour itinerary.  I could have continued eating all night long. 

Fig & pistachio, dark chocolate & macadamia, vanilla & cookies, raspberry sorbet (if I recall correctly)
I was soon to discover that Queenstown was possibly the best place for food that I had visited in New Zealand.  We passed the famous Fergburger, where the queue was impossibly long at dinnertime.  As soon as I could, I headed for Patagonia Chocolates to get my mandatory ice-cream fix.  It was getting dark and cold and I was so full but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to taste Patagonia Chocolates’ award-winning ice-cream!  Let me just say, it was completely worth it!  I was so greedy that I ordered 4 different flavours although none of my dining companions were keen on more ice-cream. 

We stayed at Millenium Hotel in Queenstown.  The room was quite good but wifi was only available in the hotel lobby with a quota of one hour a day or something like that.  I thought that was a bit stingy.  The hotel breakfast buffet was satisfactory but not exciting.  The service, however, was quite good.  One of their wait staff, a lovely Argentinian girl, made us a lovely hot chocolate.  One of us had asked if hot chocolate was a beverage option other than tea or coffee and she had said no, but made us one anyway.  Yes, the beverages here only consisted of tea or coffee and there was no fancy coffee machine that could churn out cappuccinos, lattes and the like. 

Seafood platter at Fishbone Grill, Queenstown
We ordered this calamari dish after peeking at the next table's food
Wall decor - a school of fish!
Since we spent two nights in Queenstown, we were able to try more food.  On the second night, we skipped the dinner included in the tour itinerary (some Chinese restaurant) and went to Fishbone Grill.  The restaurant had popped up many times when I was researching food options in Queenstown.  The reviews weren’t wrong – Fishbone Grill served up a truly memorable and mouthwatering meal.  The premises weren’t very big but every corner was lovingly decorated with marine motifs.  Yes, even the washroom.  We had the Seafood Platter for Two (definitely more than sufficient for two), blue cod and some calamari.  Everything was fresh and delicious, even the fries and the garlic bread. 
After dinner, we went to try Fergburger.  The place was teeming with people waiting for their orders.  There is hardly anywhere to sit inside.  While waiting, I popped into Mrs Ferg’s bakery next door to check out their stuff and had a rich, thick Belgian hot chocolate to stave off the cold.  We tried the venison, lamb and beef burgers.  They were tasty, fresh and well-made.  However, I found that the flavours were more Aussie and NZ-style and I prefer American-style burgers (like In-N-Out).  I’m not quite sure how to describe it!  I also got to try the meat pies from Fergbaker next door.  The pies were generously filled with meat but again, the flavours don’t suit my tastebuds.  Also, I didn’t exactly enjoy pork in New Zealand due to the smell, if you know what I mean. 

One last look at Queenstown
I would have liked to have more time to explore Queenstown but sadly, it wasn’t to be.  If I were ever to return to New Zealand, Queenstown would be top on my list.  There are plenty of activities to check out, plenty of good food and shops stay open for a bit longer, too.  And I’d definitely choose to fly in straight to Queenstown instead of traveling by road.  

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