Despite the hype surrounding New Zealand's South Island, it's not until you're there, flying over the snow-capped mountains that you fully understand why it's long been considered one of the most beautiful places in the world.
For those planning a trip across the ditch, the list of recommendations and travel guides can be overwhelming. But take it from an expert (read: someone who's spent ample time in Queenstown), below are the best places to stay, eat and the must-do activities when visiting one of New Zealand's most beautiful cities - and if you have spare time on top of this, we'd suggest circling back to a winery and parking up for the day.
Where To Stay
While you'll have no trouble finding a hotel in the heart of Queenstown, for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist-filled town, the Waiorau Homestead bed and breakfast is a unique option worth exploring. Not only is the accommodation a 2-minute drive to the iconic Cardrona Hotel and a 5-minute drive to Cardrona Mountain (the most famous ski resort in the country), but it's halfway between Queenstown and Wanaka - where you'll find the Instagram-worthy Lake Wanaka and wineries, such as Rippon. Get in quick though, the location, homely comforts, mountain backdrop and affordability of Wairau Homestead means it's often booked well in advance.
What To Do
Onsen Hot Pools
You'll no doubt know the above experience from Instagram, but make no mistake: in real life, Onsen Hot Pools are even more incredible. Situated just a 10-minute drive from Queenstown's centre, Onsen overlooks the Shotover River canyon and is open both during the day and at night. Visitors can pick between three spa options, adding champagne or a massage to their experience. But get in quick: it's notoriously hard to secure a spot, so book as soon as you know the dates of your trip.
While you only drive 20-minutes to Arrowtown, it feels like you've travelled back by decades upon arrival. Featuring over 60 historic buildings as well as art galleries and a boutique cinema, it's well worth spending half a day exploring this quaint little town.
Cardrona Alpine Ski Resort
Any experienced skier or snowboarder won't need any convincing to visit Cardrona. It's the most popular and talked about ski field in the country with breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains as far as the eye can see. For those who are new to the snow, don't be put off: the ski instructors are the best in the business, plus there's places to sit with a wine and enjoy the view for those who'd prefer to avoid the exercise.
For the adrenaline junkies out there, the Shotover Jet is a must. Reaching speeds of over 85 kph through the narrow Shotover Canyons, the experience is one you will never forget. Plus, the views are spectacular.
Where To Eat
Cardrona Hotel is one of New Zealand's oldest and most iconic hotels, situated between Queenstown and Wanaka and just minutes from Cardrona Ski Resort. Pop in for delicious fish n chips and high-quality pub food.
You can't go to New Zealand's South Island without either doing a winery tour or spending the afternoon at a famous vineyard. If the latter option is better suited to you, Amisfield is our pick.
Fergburger's reputation precedes it. Tell anyone you're heading to Queenstown and they'll likely point you in the direction of the popular burger joint, where you'll find lines down the street. Trust us, it's worth the wait.