It’s no secret around these parts that I love to eat good food. I love to cook good food at home and when it comes to going out while travelling, I’ll do my research in advance to maximise how we spend our dining out budget when on the ground.
On our recent snow trip to New Zealand, once I’d nailed the essentials in terms of flights, accommodation and ski gear hire, thoughts turned to where to eat and drink in Queenstown.
Word: it is a food-lovers destination. The available fresh produce is some of the best in the world. If you did nothing else but explore the food and wine options in Queenstown you’d be very happy with your holiday. Having said that, you may just want to schedule in a whole lot of activity as there is a whole lot of food to be enjoyed.
Thanks to the world of online, it’s possible to book lunches and dinners out long before you arrive at your destination. And when restaurants are in demand, this is wise to do to avoid disappointment. So, when I’m working on a dining out plan for a holiday, I start with those key restaurants which take bookings (and advise) that you should pre-book. Then I fill in the gaps with a list of potential restaurants or food options where you can’t book – or don’t need to book. I like to mix it up – burgers one night; three-course dinner the next.
I arrive at the destination with a dining out schedule but one with some wiggle room, should we stumble across a restaurant or bar that looks like our kind of place. A good thing to do is to walk around the destination at peak dining out time and see what places are full. In Queenstown, there are a lot of dining options and doing this was telling!
So, below, I’ve put together a list of places we loved – it was only a week away but I think we did ok, yes? HAH. I’ve shared more over on @stylingyoueats (scroll through the Queenstown Instagram highlight).
Where to eat and drink in Queenstown
Whenever we asked anyone where to eat in Queenstown, Botswana Butchery was top of their list. It’s now top of ours too. This is definitely one to book in advance and to budget for. We saved it for our final night and loved every part of the experience. The meal is now up there with some of our most memorable. Yes, there’s an emphasis on meat but Botswana goes beyond that with magical pairing of flavours and textures. Check out the theatre of the Bombe Alaska being served.
This was number two on everyone’s list – and came with the warning that we’d need to line up for our Fergburger fix. The line up was super efficient and worth it. Staff hand out menus while you wait and advise how long it will take to place your order; then how long it will take to fill your order. In our case it was just under 30 minutes tops from when we arrived. Most burgers are under $15, are huge and super tasty. There’s a GF bun option (YAY). Seating is limited but we did manage to stake out a spot. You can also track your order on the Fergburger site, so go for a wander while you wait.
Sardine Bar serves up Asian street-style food from its sister restaurant White and Wong’s next door was a surprise find but a fabulous find all the same. The sardine-tin wallpaper was quirky and the picture windows offer a view across to the lake. We ate a selection of edamame, dumplings and baos for a quick lunch before heading to the airport on our last day.
Pedro’s House of Lamb
Pedro’s is such a genius idea for a takeaway business – and the perfect option if you want to stay in, crack open a red wine and eat in front of the fire place. One slow-cooked lamb shoulder, potatoes and a coleslaw delivered to our door was under $NZ70 and was more than enough for the three of us. The meat and juices were just so delicious.
True South is located where we stayed – at the Rees Hotel – so we opted to dine here on our first night. The restaurant uses mostly produce sourced from Otago suppliers and the menu shares those details with diners. The Bluff oysters were an absolute treat. We also loved the shared main options. The flavours in every dish were expertly combined but not in an overly fussy kind of way.
Pub on the Wharf
Winning the value for money stakes was hands down the Pub on the Wharf. All main meals are $NZ20, which is just ridiculous when you see the size of them. I barely got through half my slow-cooked Southland Hereford rump steak.
Taking inspiration from Malaysian hawker food, Madam Woo, serves up the tastiest of offerings in a fabulously eclectic, relaxed setting. We were told to not miss the hawker rolls and were not disappointed. Book ahead for this one – whenever we walked past it was full.
The Lounge Bar (Rodd & Gunn)
We happened to get off the slopes early one day to make it into Queenstown before the sun went down and walked past this bar. The Lounge Bar was on our radar but we weren’t sure it was something that would work with having our son in tow. But then an outside, water-view table with Adirondack chairs and luxe blankets opened up and I was there quicker than you could say mulled wine. Want more than a fancy cheese board? Book ahead for a meal.
We self-catered breakfasts each day before hitting the slopes but on our non-ski day, we headed into town to head up the Skyline gondola, stopping for the most incredible brunch at Bespoke Kitchen. Gluten-free and vegan options from locally sourced produce are aplenty, but don’t worry, the baked goods situation is also next level. It’s super popular but it didn’t take long to get a table; the longest time was spent lining up to order.
The Cow is a Queenstown institution. Head down Cow Lane into what in a former life was a stone barn for the daily milking of cows. It’s all charm, from the dark interior, to the wood fire and the mouth-watering smells wafting out of the kitchen. If you skied Queenstown in the ’80s and ’90s you most probably partied at The Cow. Party animals that we are now, post-skiing, I had a mulled wine and half a pizza before being in bed by 8.30pm. You can’t make a reservation but you can leave your name and number or wait at the bar until a table becomes available. Gluten-free bases are available – HUZZAH.
The Cookie Muncher Cookie Bar
Not only do Queenstown visitors happily queue for burgers, they’ll also queue for freshly baked biscuits and cookie-inspired shakes and dessert offerings. Cookie Time biscuits are an NZ fave but The Cookie Muncher Cookie Bar takes a much-loved product to the next, sugar-coma-inducing level.
If you’ve got a chocolate craving, then you’ll be able to indulge it in so many ways at Patagonia Chocolates … chocolates, cakes, ice cream, hot chocolate … or this amazing concept that our son loved: take an ice block base, choose your chocolate coating, add a coating.
The Remarkables Sweet Shop
Like a kid in a candy shop, we all fell a little bit for this slice of sweet heaven. The Remarkable Sweet Shop is home to all kinds of lolly and chocolate options but it is its diverse range of fudge that will have you lining up to taste test … and take home.
So, tell me, where else in Queenstown would you recommend to eat and drink? Do you have a fave?
Why I think travel insurance is as important as your passport
For me, I don’t book a holiday without first taking out travel insurance. Often the time of booking flights and accommodation can be long before the time of travel and you can never be certain of what might happen between then and showing your passport at customs.
I then want to take off knowing that if someone in my family needs it, I’m backed up with help from my travel insurance company. For my last three international trips – to Europe, Hawaii and to Bali – I’ve chosen and paid for Allianz travel insurance. I also take out Allianz travel insurance for any domestic travel like this girls’ weekend or road trips we do.
Obtaining Allianz travel insurance is a simple and easy process. I select and purchase my cover online. I’ve found that the insurance cover is competitive in price for the inclusions I select.
For me, it’s about having peace of mind when we travel. I want to know that if anything goes wrong that my family is backed up through medical help or simply help with extra accommodation or replacement belongings should something be stolen.
When our son was sick six years ago while in New York, we weren’t concerned by the potential expense should we have needed hospital treatment. And when I book holidays in advance, I do so with the knowledge that if unexpected cancellations occur, I have travel insurance.^
In short, I don’t leave home – or book a holiday – without it.
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My 10-step packing guide for any destination
For me, the holiday planning is all part of the excitement and anticipation of being on that escape. I love nothing more than going down the rabbit hole that is the internet looking for inspiration and ideas for what to do at the chosen destination but also for the types of clothes and accessories that will best suit that destination at the time that I’m travelling.
The formula I use for packing is one that can be adapted and applied to every destination and type of holiday. It’s not complicated. If you follow all the steps it’s quite liberating. I can’t ever imagine returning to my bad old days of throwing everything into a suitcase, sitting on said suitcase to get it closed, and hoping that I’d packed what I needed.
Want to get that formula? It’s all in my e-book.