The best places to visit in Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown is a world-class destination famed for its spectacular scenery and adrenaline-fuelled pursuits. This is our guide to the best places to indulge in some fireside comfort and celebrate the art of après-ski in Central Otago.

By Joanna Hunkin
Nothing clears the head quite like the bright skies and crisp air of a near-freezing morning in Queenstown. A few deep breaths are all it takes to feel refreshed and revitalised, ready to take on the day ahead. Which is just as well, as the region is home to some of the world's best pinot noir and the tendency to overindulge soars as the temperature drops.
Of course, you don't need to spend your days blasting down the region's ski fields to enjoy a winter escape in Queenstown, although it does add a certain satisfaction as you treat yourself to a venison steak dinner or while away an afternoon wine-tasting through the Gibbston Valley.
In fact, the longer you spend exposed to that fresh, bracing air, the more decadent it feels when you find your way back to an open fire or sink yourself into a steaming hot bath or spa pool. Here, we explore the best places to eat, drink, stay and play in and around Queenstown.
Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa Photo: supplied


Plenty of places lay claim to lakefront views in Queenstown, where the town stretches along the shores of Lake Wakatipu. But none shares the absolute lakefront positioning – and accompanying views – of Eichardt's Private Hotel, built on the site of Queenstown's first building (a woolshed-turned-hotel). As the town has continued to sprawl outwards, Eichardt's remains the most exclusive address for those wanting to stay in the heart of the bustling town centre, while still offering a calm oasis of classic luxury. Each of the hotel's seven suites offers picture-postcard views and open fireplaces, while the two-bedroom penthouse includes a full-service kitchen (complete with Gaggenau appliances), plus an outdoor lounge, fireplace and hot tub, all overlooking the lake. Add to that your own private sauna and you'll be hard pressed to ever make it up the mountain.
2 Marine Pde, Queenstown
Tucked away down one of Queenstown's three bijoux laneways, The Spire Hotel offers sleek modern luxury and open gas fireplaces to keep you warm and well-rested. Its central location is perfect for those wanting to make the most of Queenstown's après-ski culture, while providing a cocoon of calm serenity behind closed doors.
3-5 Church Ln, Queenstown
If big skies and open space are more your scene, Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa is the place for you. Just a 20-minute drive from the airport – and 30 minutes from the nearest ski field – the luxury lodge opened in late 2019 becoming the newest addition to the popular winery, which is one of the region's founding vineyards. All of the resort's 24 private villas feature open gas fireplaces and are located just a short walk from the winery's cellar door and cheesery. Guests can choose to dine at the lodge's private restaurant or head into nearby Arrowtown. For those seeking deep relaxation, the resort's spa is world-class and as popular with locals as it is with guests. Plus there are two secluded hot pools available for guests to soak up the sweeping views of the valley.
1820 State Hwy 6, Gibbston


Whether you're looking for brunch, lunch or just a cheese platter to graze on, Akarua serves up some of Queenstown's best all-day dining in one of the prettiest settings. The kitchen and dining room is housed in a heritage cottage, while outside a large alfresco courtyard is kept toasty with open fire pits and a cellar door.
265 Arrowtown-Lake Hayes Rd, Arrowtown
Executive chef Vaughan Mabee looks to the seasons and the unique landscape surrounding him when it comes to creating his bespoke tasting menus at Amisfield. The winery is famous for producing some of the region's best drops and Mabee's menu seeks to showcase the unique flavour and character of each variety, creating one of the best wine pairing experiences you'll find anywhere in the world.
10 Lake Hayes Rd, Queenstown
Unlike Australia, there's a notable absence of quality Italian cooking to be found in New Zealand, which is just one reason Aosta is such a standout. Executive chef Ben Bayly is another reason, responsible for a menu of northern Italian classics, combined with local New Zealand produce. Think kina [sea urchin] pappardelle with shaved paua [abalone], followed by Fiordland venison rack.
18 Buckingham St, Arrowtown
The most important meal of the day becomes even more critical when you're heading up the mountain for a full-day session. Power up with a selection of vegetable-laden breakfast bowls and smoothies, or grab yourself some baked goods to-go for a next-level morning tea on the mountain.
9 Isle St, Queenstown,
Aosta. Photo: Andrew Christie
When you want to combine great food with good times, Blue Kanu is the place to take your party. Blending Pasifika and Asian flavours to create their own unique style of cooking, which they like to call "Polynasia", Blue Kanu serves up tasty tropical fun, no matter how cold it is outside.
16 Church St, Queenstown
For the best breakfast (or lunch) with a view, you'll need to hop in a car and head out of town, until you reach The Boat Shed. Housed in the old Railway Shipping Office, this lakeside café and bistro dishes up generous serves that are as pretty as the surrounding views.
847 Frankton Rd, Queenstown
Carnivores are especially well catered for at The Grille, where executive chef Will Eaglesfield serves a selection of South Island beef and wild game. Those wanting to keep it simple will find comfort in the wagyu beef burger, or you can explore local produce and flavours with a three-course Taste the Region menu, which is excellent value at just $75.
9 Marine Pde, Queenstown
You don't have to spend a lot to eat well in Queenstown, especially if you can grab a stool at Tanoshi. The small but mighty teppan bar serves up ramen and donburi for lunch, before switching to a menu of Japanese tapas for dinner. If you can't get into the restaurant, they have a separate take-out bar, Tanoshi Iko, just up the road.
Cow Ln, Queenstown
Eichardt's Bar. Photo: supplied


If neither time nor weather are on your side, The Winery is the perfect one-stop shop to sample wines from throughout the region – as well as a few further afield. With two locations (one in Queenstown, one in Arrowtown), The Winery's unique self-serve dispensers are both fun and convenient, allowing you to select either a taste, half glass or full glass from a wide range of New Zealand wines, while an electronic card keeps track of your tab. Be sure to chat to the staff, who really know their stuff and will happily guide you through the regions. Once you've found a favourite, order a cheese board and make the most of the open fireplace.
9 Ballarat St, Queenstown (reopening in July 2022); 27 Ramshaw Ln, Arrowtown
A roaring fire and soft, plush blankets are just part of what make this small, stone and steel-clad bar so welcoming. Braver souls can enjoy the lakeside views alfresco but the best seats are those tucked away inside. Settle in and enjoy bar snacks from neighbouring restaurant, The Grille, along with an extensive selection of cocktails and Central Otago wines.
2 Marine Pde, Queenstown
What's better than sampling the wines of Central Otago's best vineyard? Sampling the wines of five of Central Otago's best vineyards. Just a 30-minute drive from central Queenstown will land you in the heart of Gibbston Valley, where you will find the Kinross cellar door, representing five of the region's leading boutique wineries, including Coal Pit, Wild Irishman, Valli, Hawkshead and Kinross. With a team of expert sommeliers to guide you through your tasting, you'll need to book ahead to ensure you don't miss out.
2300 Gibbston Hwy, Queenstown
An Air Milford Cessna. Photo: Andrew Christie


The only thing more impressive than marvelling at the Southern Alps from the ground, is marvelling at them from the air. Air Milford gets you up close and personal with Queenstown's magnificent mountains, offering unobstructed views thanks to its fleet of "high-wing" Cessna aircraft. A one-hour flight will take you over five of the region's glaciers, or you can spend the morning in Milford Sound and add on a two-hour nature cruise with Southern Discoveries, to experience the natural wonder up close.
If viewing Queenstown from the air isn't an option, you can always head out on the water for a fresh perspective of the town and surrounding area. The TSS Earnslaw is a heritage icon of the town, ferrying people across Lake Wakatipu for more than 100 years. Or for a more exclusive experience, you can charter the Pacific Jemm yacht to explore the lake's secret coves and islands. With four cabins (with ensuites) that sleep up to eight guests, it also serves as Queenstown's most unique luxury accommodation.
Queenstown Bay. Photo: courtesy of Pacific Jemm
Every seasoned skier knows the only way to stop those leg muscles seizing up is to keep moving. Grab a bike and peddle through Gibbston Valley, with pit stops at various cellar doors along the way. The road up to Chard Farm – overlooking The Kawarau River – offers some of the most spectacular views in the region, while Mt Rosa Wines is famous for warming visitors with their signature mulled wine. The full trail is nine kilometres of easy riding, starting at Kawarau Suspension Bridge, with many operators offering pick-up and drop-off options.
Plenty of hotels offer their own private spas and saunas, but none can compete with the scenic drama of Onsen Hot Pools, overlooking the Shotover River. Instagram has made this spot a Queenstown cliché but nothing can diminish the joy of peeling off your thermals after a long day on Coronet Peak and stepping into this bubbling nirvana. Plan ahead to book your spot, as this is one of the hottest tickets in town.
162 Arthurs Point Rd, Queenstown
  • undefined: Joanna Hunkin