QUEEN­STOWN

Go Travel New Zealand - - Contents - by Sara Litch­field

Com­ing to land amidst New Zealand’s stunning South­ern Alps is an ex­pe­ri­ence in it­self, ma­jes­tic moun­tains hail­ing you as you come to rest in what is of­ten de­scribed as the jewel in the coun­try’s crown. I’m filled with ex­cite­ment and won­der, hav­ing heard from a great many trav­ellers that what I’ll find on the ground is just as breath­tak­ing as the view from the air. I’ve ar­rived in Queen­stown.

Amorn­ing wan­der through this beau­ti­ful town brings me to one end of its cen­tre and a pub called Red Rock for their fa­mous $10 break­fast. Wooden beams, slate floors, and a friendly smile be­hind the bar are the first things to greet me. A ta­ble by the wood­burner is warm and wel­com­ing, and there is plenty to look at, a large screen in the cor­ner play­ing the sport, US li­cence plates adorn­ing the walls, and a jer­sey on dis­play from the lo­cal ice hockey team the bar is spon­sor­ing – the Ice Maid­ens, Queen­stown’s first women’s team.

A pool ta­ble sits over in a side sec­tion, win­dows fram­ing the pic­nic ta­bles over­look­ing the street be­side firepits ready to keep rev­el­ers warm when they come down from the moun­tains. I’m told there’s live mu­sic and a cosy, up­stairs bar called the Whiskey Room – I’ve al­ready de­cided to come back and check out the evening vibe.

A lovely chai latte later and break­fast is on the ta­ble – surely the best in town for value, and de­li­cious to boot. Hap­pily full, I could sit there all day lis­ten­ing to the tunes, but the scenery is call­ing and I’m off to look around.

Queen­stown is a myr­iad of in­ter­est­ing, in­ter­con­nect­ing streets and side al­leys. I make my way to­wards the lake via the pedes­tri­anised Mall, par­al­lel to the main street. Un­touched World, next to pala­tial ho­tel Eichardt’s, calls to me and I treat my­self to a scarf – some win­ter warmth for my com­ing walk.

A pretty path along the lake­side takes me be­side the beach and into Queen­stown Gar­dens. As well as the un­fold­ing views, I get to watch the fris­bee golf in play and marvel at a hole-in-one. Is there any ac­tiv­ity Queen­stown doesn’t have? I could fol­low the wind­ing path along the lake­side all the way to Frank­ton, but I loop around and choose to come back into town. There are more than enough shops and sights to keep me oc­cu­pied all day. The af­ter­noon sees me climb­ing Queen­stown Hill to en­joy its walk­ing track and stunning views across the town, the Re­mark­ables tow­er­ing over Lake Wakatipu in the dis­tance.

As evening falls, the in­doors calls and I make my way to the Whiskey Room above Red Rock. It’s the per­fect place to while away the hours, a roar­ing fire warm­ing the small ta­bles and leather sofa, flanked by cosy arm­chairs. A cabi­net gives tes­ti­mony to the range of whiskeys on of­fer, and I curl up with a cock­tail to en­joy the in­ti­mate space with its après-ski charm.

Queen­stown’s nightlife em­braces an eclec­tic ar­ray of op­tions, but I’ve al­ready heard of one not to miss. I head over to Cow­boy’s on Searle Lane to sam­ple this Old West themed bar, com­plete with horse sad­dle bar stools

and me­chan­i­cal bull. I pass an en­tic­ing nook with its own fire­place open­ing onto a smok­ers’ den be­fore an enor­mous bear greets me at the en­trance to the main room. Along with a crowd of cheer­ful peo­ple tap­ping feet to the popular mu­sic, I or­der a sig­na­ture stein and soak up the sur­round­ings. I’m lucky enough to en­joy a seat by the fire, a per­fect peo­ple-watch­ing spot op­po­site the bar, flanked by en­thu­si­as­tic shuf­fle­board and pool play­ers tak­ing ad­van­tage of the free ta­bles un­der an im­pres­sive col­lec­tion of para­pher­na­lia. From the pis­tol bar taps to the antler chan­de­liers, Cow­boy’s of­fers a unique, play­ful am­bi­ence in which to en­joy the drinks and free bar snacks they of­fer ev­ery day be­tween 3 and 8pm, with pizza handed out all night on Wed­nes­days. It’s easy to get into the spirit of things here; I can tell the karaoke they hold on Sun­days would make a great night out, with cash prizes and free chicken wings to go with the en­ter­tain­ment. But for now, I fin­ish my de­li­cious pizza and round off with an ex­hil­a­rat­ing if short-lived ride on the bull be­fore go­ing back out onto the chilly streets. Al­ways a lover of tra­di­tional Ir­ish pubs, I head back to­wards the lake to try the Guin­ness at Pog Mahone’s. I’m far from dis­ap­pointed. A bar­man from the Emer­ald Isle pours a pint per­fectly and it goes down a treat. Pog’s has the pleas­ant pub at­mos­phere I’ve come to ex­pect from the Pad­dys, flags adorn­ing the ceil­ing like in so many es­tab­lish­ments, but with a charm all its own. Tal­ented lo­cal band Cal­ico is play­ing on the raised plat­form in one cor­ner of the room to the de­light of drinkers and din­ers alike, the sight and aroma of siz­zling stone­grills mak­ing my mouth wa­ter. Out­side ta­bles over­look the lake and jetty, while up­stairs seat­ing of­fers more restau­rant-like sur­round­ings in which to en­joy the ex­ten­sive menu. I hear a ru­mour the Sun­day roast is worth re­turn­ing for – my week­end seems to be map­ping it­self out for me al­ready!

Sit­ting at the bar, I lis­ten to the lively mu­sic and strike up con­ver­sa­tion with the chatty bar staff. One of the best things about Queen­stown is the great mix of peo­ple you’ll meet from all over the world, whether vis­it­ing or hav­ing come here to make it their home. They cer­tainly seem to like their Guin­ness, an awe-inspiring dis­play of plaques bear­ing wit­ness to the 100, 500 and even 1000 pint clubs, prov­ing this par­tic­u­lar pub is loved by lo­cals as well as hol­i­day-mak­ers.

I re­tire con­tent in the knowl­edge that I’ve sam­pled some of Queen­stown’s high­lights al­ready. I can hardly wait for to­mor­row.

Lively times at Red Rock

Cow­boys Bar & Restau­rant

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