Arguably the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown is known for its’ outdoor exploits & beautiful landscape. You’d be hard pressed to find any visitors who didn't fall in love with the place.
You may be thinking, “hey so now that we’re back in a town what happened to that sweet van?” Don’t worry we still had it. Most all the towns & cities in New Zealand still have campervan sites for just such an occasion. If we’ve paid for a one-stop shop home & transport, why pay extra for more lodging? So we “pitched tent” as it were at the Holiday Park Creeksyde, a very quirky spot with resident ducklings hanging around.
Queenstown is an almost perfect resort town. I say almost perfect but I’m not sure what's missing. We had amazing food, Patagonia Chocolates cannot be missed for some near perfect ice cream, & people line up for almost an hour to devour a Fergburger (veggie options available!). It’s insane (but worth it…)
We also jammed in last minute souvenir shopping & indulged in local wine & beer on top of all the activities to do. You couldn’t walk more than a few steps without someone offering a tour, excursion or trips out on the popular jet boats.
I’m sorry to disappoint that we did not bungy jump or dive off anything but we did take a spin on our first paragliding experience! There are few feelings I can think of weirder than walking off the side of a mountain but soaring above Queenstown on a gorgeous spring day cannot be beat. Where I thought I’d panicky or freeze I felt only freeing & a little bit proud that we went for it, thankful we talked ourselves out of bungy jumping. I’m too old for this.
The Gibbston Valley, known as the “valley of the vines”, is tucked into the Central Otago wine region of New Zealand, the world's southernmost commercial growing-region & renowned home of Ben’s personal favorite, Pinot Noir. We had no idea what a wine gem we’d stumbled onto but I’m not sure I’d seen him so excited in a while.
First stop was the Gibbston Valley Winery (GVW), original name huh? But with the history of this vineyard, I suppose it makes sense. GVW was the brainchild of Alan Brady who believed the region was perfectly situated for grape growing, though everyone else at the time felt it was too cold. Now it’s one of the most awarded wineries in the region &, Ben swears, boasts the best Pinot Noir he’s ever had. We may or may not have a bottle or two stashed away for a special occasion.
Next up, we popped over to Kinross, a slightly different & unique take on a winery. Kinross is more of a co-op of sorts, the cottages available on the property for rent have been standing for 100 years & only recently (circa 1980’s something) it became the “cellar door” (tasting & selling room) for 5 local wineries that lacked their own cellar door. One of which being none other than Alan Brady’s own which he began upon his “retirement”.
This quaint little spot had a little bit of everything - lodging, tasting room & gourmet bistro where we chomped down an amazing pizza!
After lunch, we popped by Mt. Rose, a former ram paddock turned largest vineyard in the region. Here we got to sample not only their famous Pinot Gris but the mulled syrup wine - not something I can say we’ve really had before. Finally, our last stop brought us to Akarua, a conglomeration of 6+ vineyards throughout the region.
If you haven’t picked up on the trend...as we get further into the wines, there are less photos...I blame Ben.
If I could turn back time & stay happily tucked away on the shoresides of Queenstown, I would. But we were headed off to Invercargill to visit family (as far south as you could possibly go without going back to Antarctic) in what would turn out to be our last few days on the road. That story is for another day.
New Zealand was everything we’d been told it would & more. Without a doubt it will remain a favorite of mine & I’ll always be grateful to her for such amazing memories.
Planning your own trip to New Zealand? Check out AllTheRooms.com for details on some of the best places to stay!