Summary: After two days of travel, we arrived in the gorgeous South Island town of Queenstown, NZ. We could easily see ourselves living here if we ever had to leave the States. Known as the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown also caters to tourists with high-end shopping, nice restaurants, and beautiful gardens. We'll have to come back here again sometime because the only disappointing part was the weather we encountered. However, if you're going to have a bad weather day, you mind as well get it over with on Day 1!
Queenstown. Situated on South Island's Lake Wakatipu, this popular tourist destination was easy to access with a short flight from Auckland to Queenstown. We arrived mid-morning, after having left California two days earlier (you lose an entire day from the time-zone difference alone). We also picked up our rental car here which we used for our time in Queenstown and then later in Te Anau-Milford Sound.
During the winter, this large town of 120,000+ residents swells to accommodate ski and snowboarders. When we went in mid-December, the summer season was just kicking off. This meant catching some rain but also quiet streets and more accessible tours and attractions. Queenstown is known for its adventure sports and it did not disappoint. But first, having just got off the plane, we decided to ease into the trip with some time in the City center.
Queenstown Gardens. Our first stop was to stretch our legs with a nice stroll through the Queenstown Gardens. The total loop is approximately 1.5 miles in length and is located in central Queenstown. Inside this well-manicured park are botanical gardens both native and exotic plants.
Waterfront. The stroll through the park takes you to a beautiful view of the City of Queenstown and its waterfront. [Note- we just loved the frolicking dog statue].
Marina. From the Park we walked over to central Queenstown to do a little early souvenir shopping before heading up to the ski lift known as Skyline Queenstown. Central Queenstown has a ton of shopping if that interests you, including high-end stores. There are also loads of restaurants, coffee shops, art stores, and all other usual tourist experiences. The City is clean, well-maintained, and clearly caters to the high-end market.
Skyline Queenstown. Unfortunately, this is one place the rain impacted our visit. The visibility for this Gondola ride was very poor and by the time we got to the top, we could barely see the town below. The luge was also closed due to the rain. Luckily for us, this was the one and only time on the whole trip that the weather impacted our activities. The last photo below is one quick photo that could be snapped right at the perfect time.
Air BnB. We kind of hit the jackpot with the an Air BnB we found for this trip. The view was incredible. So much so that we never went out to eat for dinner, and kept coming back "home" to sit and enjoy our view. It is located about 10 minutes from Central Queenstown, in a cute lakefront neighborhood. We also were super lucky with the pricing as it was a brand-new listing at the time. It's now more than what we would pay today, but if that's less of a concern, we'd highly recommend this listing. (last photo is us enjoying our new souvenirs)