Sunday, 23 February 2014

Onwards to Queenstown


Although Queenstown was the next major town on our journey, we decided that we would take a detour through the historic Arrowtown, which is located about halfway between Wanaka and QT. While New Zealand in general is know for its 'old England' feel, with the small being much more isolated than most of the UK, Arrowtown residents and businesses have focussed on this as the towns major selling point, and although it sounds like a possible non-event like so many similarly marketed towns I have seen, especially in America, I was not disappointed and it is definitely worth a visit if you were to have time. I highly recommend trying the micro-brewery in town, with a very passionate and helpful local brewer who explains the whole process on a wide variety of in house ale, it is hard to not want to get your own brew on as soon as possible after a visit.

The Lake - Queenstown

After a night at a less than scenic camp site, we headed into Queenstown itself, which is only a short drive away. Having had several recommendations from friends we had met along the way, the Black Sheep seemed to have the most passionate following among other backpackers so we headed straight there.

The Black Sheep is probably my personal favourite hostel that I stayed at in New Zealand, or at least on a par with the Brown Kiwi in Auckland. The mix of social space, room layout and relatively small kitchen didn't give great promise immediately, but as we agreed with many other guests from different times, the crowd it draws just always seem to work. The free Hot Tub out the back has no small part to play in this, and there were many rainy afternoons where 'Tubb Lyf' made a rainy day seem like paradise. (Tubb Lyf was a bunch of guys from across the world drinking beers in a hot tub.)

The Black Sheep Hot Tub

After the relatively small towns that we had been to since arriving on the south island, even including Wanaka, Queenstown appears immediately huge, but is actually relatively small compared to the cities and very easy to navigate. It is located on the edge of a lake, with a stunning surround of mountains with various activities available. Although there are some challenging hikes, and downhill mountain bike trails, these seemed like so much effort, but my recommendation would be to get a few people to head up onto the free luge on the mountain. While it does look immediately easy, the competitive nature soon comes out and normally the most unlikely driver (pilot) ends up winning but still never knowing exactly how. There are other more extreme activities available such as power boating and a bungee jump on the mountain, but there are lots of other leisure activities too, so all visitors have no excuse not to enjoy their stay.

There are a few places in the town itself that need a mention. The World Bar is probably the best club/bar, with a great dance floor and good, yet pricey, range of cocktails available in tea pots, which always makes things better. The bar crawls around the town are probably the best way to see everywhere, and although probably not the primary reason for signing up, don't expect a 'free pizza'. At least, expect A 'free pizza' between about 10 people, though the organised fun does mean that you don't have to worry where you go and get on with meeting new people.


The other main point is Fergburger. Recommended by lonely planet and pretty much anyone (excluding vegetarians and vegans, though the chips are also awesome) who has been to Queenstown, Fergburger has to be tried at any time of the day. Davies was a huge advocate of the morning range, but unfortunately I rarely had enough of an appetite to make them financially viable myself.  From the range of names (inc. the Codfather, Mr. Big Stuff, Bun Laden) to the great favour and value for money, everything here is as good as it looks and sounds. I would say more but there's too much to say. I'll leave it at IT'S AWESOME and YOU MUST GO. Enough said. 

Queenstown was amazing for me, though this was for the people I met there as much as the town itself. I think that the only way it could be better is if it was ski season, which I imagine would be fantastic. It is very easy to make Queenstown a hub for going on different trips if you don't have your own transport and I'm sure that anyone else who has visited would agree that it is a must see in the south island.

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