Credit: Pieta Shore
Ski towns, for the uninitiated, can seem like a private members club. With little else to do but hit the slopes, seasoned snow bunnies suit up and swoosh gracefully between shots of schnapps and trips up precarious looking chairlifts with the greatest of ease while those of us less blessed in the coordination department (and more inclined to more low-impact sports, such as lying face-down on a massage table) are doing our best to focus on trying not to get tangled up in all the gear – and that’s before we’ve left the lodge.
Thankfully, Queenstown is a much more democratic kind of destination; Whether your intentions are to ski down dizzying peaks from helicopter-induced heights or simply slip around beginner slopes – or even if skiing isn’t really your thing and you want to hear more about those schnapps and some serious fine dining – read on, because Queenstown, New Zealand has something for you.
Looking out over the serene Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown’s otherworldly mountain views is the luxe yet, impossibly cosy Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa. With crackling fireplaces both in-room and out, (the outdoor fire pit accompanying the in-house restaurant Wakatipu Grill is the best place for a sunset Pinot Noir) exposed timber and stone finishes and contemporary furnishings, it makes the most of the crisp chill.
Must try? The Escape Journey at the Eforea spa using local organic plant and healing practices for a uniquely local experience.
Credit: Courtesy of Hilton Hotels
Clearly used to the finer things in life, it’s little wonder why royals Will and Kate Middleton stopped by the Amisfield Winery Bistro on their 2015 journey through New Zealand. A two-hatted restaurant with the most incredible Sauvignon Blanc you’ve ever tasted (and that’s from a staunch red wine addict), the ‘Trust the Chef’ signature tasting menu is a two-hour parade of pure gastronomic joy that heroes local produce and native flavours in hearty, confident dishes.
For dinner, stop by Michelin-star chef Josh Emett’s restaurant Rata Dining. The bites and starters are of particular note – the treacle rye bread with home smoked butter is simplistic genius – and if we could eat one thing for the rest of our lives it would be Emett’s buttermilk-fried chicken with spring tomato harissa.
And, of course, no guide for Queenstown would be complete without a mention of Fergberger. Believe the hype and be sure to turn up hungry.
Credit: Courtesy of Rata
For the most exquisite-tasting liquors that use local botanicals, stop by the Cardrona Distillery. Our pick? The gin distilled with juniper, coriander seed, angelica root, lemon and orange zest. Try the half-day Cocktail Masterclass – but be sure to enlist a designated driver.
Credit: Courtesy of Cardrona Distillery
Rug up against the Antarctic chill in the newly-opened Ugg flagship store. A snug interior and seemingly wall-to-wall, plush sheepskin holds endless shelves of chic, yet practical – given the climate – footwear.
Editor’s favourite? The chesnut loafers that look like something a Wes Anderson character might wear.
Coronet Peak is, while in season, arguably Queenstown’s best slopes but in the warmer months you can enjoy the bluebird days of spring, t-shirts in soft snow and lazy afternoons at the Ice Bar. As the sun goes down, head up the mountains to the Onsen Natural Hot pools perched up top. At night, with the shutters open to full sky, the view of the stars is second to none.
Grazia travelled to Queenstown courtesy of Ugg. To view more from our time in New Zealand, head here.
Tile and cover image: Supplied