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“Bel Lago best base for top world resort Queenstown”
Review of Queenstown

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Level 4 Contributor
19 reviews
17 helpful votes
“Bel Lago best base for top world resort Queenstown”
Reviewed 23 March 2010

First adventure, then adrenalin, now Queenstown is world resort for everyone

- Kip Brook, Word of Mouth Media NZ

What a different a decade makes. Ten years ago, Queenstown in New Zealand, was the adventure capital of the world, only to become became the adrenalin-junkies’ capital of the world. Today, the world-award winning alpine village with billion dollar views is the resort for everyone.

A shop window t-shirt summed up Queenstown to a tee: Eat, Drink, Snowboard, Recover!

Queenstown has it all from vertigo biking, bungy jumping and G force paragliding to leisurely bush walks, the best golf courses, wine trails, and idyllic romantic lake cruises on the near 100 year old steamer SS Earnslaw.

Jet boating began here 50 years and bungy jumping was invented here. There’s a distinctive buzz about the streets with so many young people on an adrenalin-high.

Conde Nast Traveller magazine readers picked Queenstown as the third best destination in the Pacific Rim behind Sydney and Melbourne – but without the big city traffic and clutter.

I just had to go there in summer and see for myself. I booked into Bel Lago luxury villa, which was the best choice for several reasons: It had stunning panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu and amphitheatres of snow-capped mountains – such a majestic and romantic mix – and it had masses peaceful space to set up camp.

My villa oozed luxury, with well-appointed fittings thoughout. I felt totally relaxed. My villa hostess, Carmel Mills of Relax It’s Done, made me feel at home with her warmth and energy. I never wanted to leave, but Queenstown’s attractions beckoned.

As the sun slumped on my first lazy day, I soaked in the hot-tub sipping a chilled Rimu Grove chardonnay wine, wearing nothing but a smile. I had to agree with all the Conde Nast readers from all over the world why Queenstown is one of the best destinations on the planet as I looked at the rosey coloured snow-capped peaks and glistening lake. Wearing just a smile, I thought The Bel Lago villa seemed one step away from paradise.

The next day I hit the fast lane for a taste of adventure for a 43km high speed jetboat thrill-a-second ride on the big yellow Kawarau Jet. This was adrenalin-addiction heaven, without jumping off a bridge on a bungy rope but exciting enough. It felt like the world was flashing before my eyes as we whizzed up and down the river and belted over the lake.

I stepped out feeling bullet-proof and headed to the Botswana Butchery – the finest of fine dining in town. To enter the restaurant you pull on a meat cleaver which is attached to the door like a door handle. The African beat pumps inside. A fire blazes and more meat clears on the wall to add to the branding. My waitress Stef from Brazil dished up Spanish style West Coast whitebait and salad, washed down by a tasty Camshorn Waipara riesling. Mmmm, this is the life.

Exhausted, I sprinted back to Bel Lago waddled along the lakeside a few minutes back to my base haven Bel Lago villa to ponder what to enjoy next. Then I heard the Earnslaw steamer sailing back to Steamer Wharf. Time to take stock tomorrow.

On my last day I tour the town’s string of art galleries Toi o Tahuna and Artbay the best of them.
Paragliders appear out of the air all day landing on a field close to town. Every second shop is something to eat or drink, a tourist outlet to go wild on fuel-injected action like heli-biking, skydiving, rafting, hang gliding, heli-hiking, parasailing, jetboating, bungy jumping, canyon swinging, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, heli-skiing, quad biking and even river surfing. I feel giddy at the thought of any of them. People walk around in the latest active sportswear. I saw the irony in one thrill-seeking tourist operator having their Christmas office party at the sedate local croquet club.

The setting sun cast a pretty, rosy tint over the snow-capped Remarkables on my final night at Bel Lago. Few places match New Zealand's Southern Lakes district for raw and rugged beauty, which becomes all the more obvious in spring when the snow starts to melt. By parched summer, this resort destination was just as inviting in the heat as it is a Mecca in show party-winter.

New Zealand’s southern lakes area has been named among the top two destinations in the world by Tripadvisor, the world’s largest online travel community. Adrenalin-popping or steamer cruising; party town or picture-postcard gazing; Queenstown is hot stuff.


1 Thank WordChristchurch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
1 review
4 helpful votes
“The most beautiful town in NZ”
Reviewed 7 March 2010

We arrived in Queenstown on Christmas Day, around lunch, following on from the Routeburn Hike. The shuttle bus run us from Glenorchy to Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park where we rejoined the rest of the group. This would be my last day of the Flying Kiwi tour with about 10 of us departing the following morning. The tour will never be the same!!

We had a great Christmas Dinner at the holiday park, overlooking town, that afternoon. It was about 5pm and the weather was mad hot 26 degrees! Following a delicious meal we headed into town, which was in walking distance, to party the night away! Being a public holiday none of the bars/clubs opened till midnight so we gate crashed a party until then, where we found free beer!! I had previously purchased a Santa hat and beard which done the rounds, it seemed to be very popular, that I haven't seen it since!

Queenstown itself sits beside Lake Wakatipu surrounded by vast mountain ranges

Christmas Day Dinner
. The Remarkables mountain ranges dominate the skyline where skiing takes place during the winter months; there was still snow on the peaks when I arrived. There is so much to see and do in Queenstown that you're actually spoilt for choice! Most people come to Queenstown to participate in extreme sports and its well known as the adventure capital of the world; bungy jumping is a particularly popular pastime and Queenstown is the commercial hub for this activity. This is an activity that I wouldn't be doing and had the week to ponder the many other options.

I said my goodbyes to the group on boxing day and checked into the Nomads hostel with hast! My nights in a tent were finally over! I was looking forward to having some freedom again and my own bed with fresh towels; small luxuries you take for granted. The Nomads hostel occupies a new building, very morden, with great location by the lake. It seems more like a tidy apartment block than a hostel. I had my own balcony with great views over the lake. It sits just on the fringe of town, 5 minute walk to center, just away from the drunkards. This hostel didn't have a backpacker bar, that most do, which was good as it remained civilized and wasn't swamped by excitable teenagers.

I stayed in Queenstown for a week which was more than enough time to explore the main sights and do some activities

Final Day on Tour!
. I had a good feel for the place after this time and came away relaxed. The only disappointment was that there didn't seem to be many people my own age group (28+;). The majority of the crowd were young (16-24) driven by drink and bungy jumps. The crazy ones kept themselves to the packpacker bars so didn't tarnish the image of the place too much.

The main highlights during my stay in Queenstown were as follows:

1. Arrowtown - I done a 45km bike to Arrowtown, a small gold mining village just outside Queenstown, this was an amazing ride, taking in some brilliant views. Arrowtown itself is a quaint little town with small shops, cafes, top restaurants, surrounded by hills. It makes a pleasant change from the hectic pace of Queenstown. Recommended!

2. Wanaka - I took a day trip to Wanaka, which is an hour and a half away, by coach. This is similar to Queenstown but slightly less developed. There isn't too much to see, or do, but the place is beautiful all the same!

3. Gondola & Luge - I took the ride up to the top of the hill with some great views of Queenstown

Christmas Day
. From here you can do bungy jumps, zip line, paragliding and Luging. I done the Luge which is basically a go cart going round a circuit in the mountains - really good fun! Too windy for the paragliding, which I wanted to do, unfortunately.

4. Kiwi Wildlife Park - Worth doing just to see a Kiwi in real life! They are very rare but you get the opportunity to see one here. Its worth the entrance fee itself! You can see the over sized flightless birds at designated feeding times, fascinating to watch!

5. Winnies - A quality pizza bar that turns into a lively bar at night, in the summer, the roof opens up revealing the heavens!

6. Queenstown Gardens - Great place to relax in an amazing setting! Watch out for the Frisbees golf! I nearly had my head taken off a few times.

7. Cafe Vudu - My favorite place for breakfast! Cracking food and good service if a little expensive.

8. Shotover Jet - A high speed flat bottom boat speeds you up the river doing 360's and with close shaves against rocks and boulders. Slick commercial operation!

9. Balaton Crepes - The best crepes in town for sure, this place is a national institution, quality food at a good price and funky setup. Its popular and is always buzzing(outdoor armchairs,nutella-peak,indoboard etc); you don't have to wait long either! They must make an absolute fortune along with the bungy jump business, AJ Hackett and the Skyline Gondola/luge, based there just 100 metres away.

In summary, Queenstown is the most happening town in New Zealand, in a great location. It has a great ski resort feel, luxury hotels, the best dining and good social scene. However it can get a little crazy at times with the younger 'party bus' crowd it attracts. Next Stop, San Francisco...

4 Thank dreadswelldone
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
McLean, Virginia
Level 5 Contributor
79 reviews
73 helpful votes
“Cool town, beautiful countryside”
Reviewed 11 January 2010

My husband and I spent 2 days in Queenstown in November.
It's a great place for the great outdoors. We enjoyed a short cruise on the SS Earnslaw, (could have gone to a sheep station), walked along the dock area of the beautiful lake, and watched people engage in ultra sports- bungy jumping, swinging, paragliding, parasailing, etc. There's skiing in the winter in the nearby Remarkable Mountains. The tiny town has a surprising mixture of restaurants. We saw some of the very beautiful countryside on a day-long tour to Milford Sound (unfortunately, there was fog on the Sound -- apparently a common occurrence--and we couldn't see a thing on the boat ride), but the mountains, valleys, waterfalls, sheep farms, and forests we saw were still worth the trip.

1 Thank traveledall
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
19 helpful votes
“my favorite place in new zealand”
Reviewed 3 January 2010

great little tourist city/trap everything is close or they will bus you there if going to nz make this city a stop 2 to 3 days is all that is needed.

2 Thank aks472
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 5 Contributor
62 reviews
34 helpful votes
“New Zealand South Island”
Reviewed 22 December 2009

Well worth staying at.
Queenstown in early december is absolutely stunning.
Plenty of things to do including the drive to Glenorchy which is a spectacular scenic drive.

Whatever you do, avoid the accomodation at Pinewood, as it is a 'dump' and needs knocking down and replacing.

Plenty of day trips to other scenic towns such as Arrowtown, Makana, Te Anau and Milford Sound.
Actually most of the South Island is Fantastic and eye opening. However. avoid the West Coast, it is very disappointing including Fox Glacier. ( may look better from the sky ).

2 Thank 7007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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