Queenstown is known for its extreme outdoor activities, which are what attracted Shari Bayer to the small Kiwi town to begin with. In between jumping off bridges and out of planes, she found great food and shopping to cool off that adrenaline rush.
Hotel Novotel Queenstown Lakeside
Corner of Earl St. and Marine Parade; +64-3-442-7750
Very centrally and conveniently located in the heart of Queenstown on its beautiful lakefront, steps from the best shops and restaurants. The rooms are spacious and have private balconies.
Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
Kawarau Village, 79 Peninsula Rd., Frankton; +64-3-450-9400
A tranquil hotel that spoils with comforts, luxurious amenities, in-room fireplaces, and a magnificent mountain backdrop on Lake Wakatipu. It's a 15-minute drive or a 10-minute water taxi ride into the center of Queenstown.
Queenstown Park Hotel
21 Robins Rd.; +64-3-441-8441
A relatively affordable boutique option with cozy interiors designed by local designers Comber & Smith. It's a five-minute walk to Lake Wakatipu and two minutes from the gondola. Ask for the Tower Suite for panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
Eichardt's Private Hotel
Marine Parade, PO Box 1340; +64-3-441-0450
Private, exclusive, premiere. It's pricey, but with good reason. There are only five suites, each outfitted with luxurious features like super-king beds and opossum fur throws. The service is amazing, and the hotel bar is great for cocktails, whether you're staying there or not.
WHERE TO EAT
42 Shotover St.; +64-3-441-1232
A must-visit burger joint that's become an institution, offering more than 20 varieties of massive, gourmet burgers. You will need two hands to pick up your burger, and plenty of napkins. There will be a long line, and it will be worth the wait.
5 Clocktower Bldg, Shotover St.; +64-3-442-8542
A local favorite for its excellent coffee and quick, casual eats situated across from The Station building.
Post Office Café
41 Ballarat St.; +64-3-442-8238
Another great cafe with a serene outdoor courtyard that serves informal and delicious hearty, all-day breakfast and lunch.
Te Nuku, 43 Ballarat St.; +64-3-442-9393
I had an outstanding birthday dinner here. And I reconnected with Michelin-starred Kiwi chef and owner Josh Emett, who I first met at Gordon Ramsay's The London in New York City. Rata, which opened in 2012, is his first solo venture, and he's doing first-class cuisine and service in a quaint and relaxed setting.
Beach St., Steamer Wharf; +64-3-442-5969
Fine dining with a view? This is the place for excellent seafood and service. Expect to pay for the gorgeous waterfront setting.
WHERE TO SHOP
Kapa Design Gallery
29 Rees St.; +64-3-442-4041
A quaint neighborhood shop showcasing talented New Zealand artists and their beautiful jewelry, ceramics, prints and glassware. Excellent for Kiwi souvenirs.
In the Pink
31 Camp St.; +64-3-441-1525
A fun, contemporary design store with an incredible range of products. The bright, friendly storefront pulled me in from the street.
18 Beach St.; +64-3-442-8887
A great selection of New Zealand clothing and jewelry New Zealand. I picked up a cool pair of merino silk arm warmers.
See all the locations mentioned in this story. (Google Maps)