Dining experiences in Queenstown
If you like waterfront dining (and who doesn't?), pull up a chair in Queenstown. Down at the Steamer Wharf you'll find a delectable assortment of lakeside eating places.
While the nightlife in Queenstown is always pretty good, the Winter Festival takes it to a whole new level.
Public Kitchen and Bar is a favourite with travellers, because it takes a totally free-range, local approach to food. Their offerings are all caught in the surrounding mountains, foraged or grown just down the road, and their wild venison is incredible. It's honest Kiwi fare done with flair. Other Steamer Wharf favourites include Pier 19, for something a bit fancy, and Ivy & Lola's Kitchen and Bar, for hearty food that showcases local ingredients.
The simplest approach to lakeside dining is takeaways at the beach. Be it burgers, tacos or pizza, you can enjoy food with a view - plus a few ducks to feed as well.
Timing your Queenstown holiday to coincide with the Winter Festival is a guaranteed shortcut to fun. The festival runs for 10 days at the beginning of June and the programme is packed with events to celebrate the start of winter and the ski season.
You can expect the bars and eateries to be pumping. The buzzing atmosphere is infectious and it's hard to resist joining in the celebrations. While the nightlife in Queenstown is always pretty good, the Winter Festival takes it to a whole new level. Follow the noise or ask your accommodation for the latest happening places.
Some of the best events are on the ski fields. Catch a shuttle to see 'farmer and dog' races, mountain bikes on snow trails and other loopy entertainments. There's usually some serious ski racing too, if the conditions are right.
Wine and dine in the valley
Just half an hour from Queenstown is the Gibbston wine area, home to one of New Zealand's most welcoming wineries - Gibbston Valley. While grapes are the primary focus here, this winery hosts concerts in summer and other events throughout the year. It also has a wine cave and a highly-recommended restaurant, known for food and wine matches made in heaven.
Continue along the Gibbston gorge and you'll eventually find yourself in the heart of Central Otago's pinot noir country. Expect to be impressed, because this area shares geographical and climactic characteristics with some of the world's most acclaimed wine-producing regions. Mt Difficulty Wines, which has magnificent vineyard and valley views, is a blissful choice for an alfresco lunch.