August 24, 2012
Queenstown… oh how I resisted you… I thought you were all bungy-jumping backpackers and campervans.. but no- you are SO MUCH MORE. I almost don’t want to write this post and send all you skiing families there.. but I have to share how fantastic Queenstown is for a family ski holiday- or any ski holiday really, or even a trip where…. shhh… there is no snow.
So Queenstown and the Skimama- a love affair. I do think it will always be a special place, as it is where we spent our first ski vacation as a family. The Snow Bunny was 4 months old and the Powder Hound was 3. We went with two other skiing families with children of similar ages so there was great fun having lots of friends and kids to enjoy all the joys of Q’town… skiing, boarding, dining, wining, heliskiing… We chose to ski mainly at Coronet Peak, it has a terrific ski school and child care facility on the mountain, making it easy to do a half day of skiing – particularly as our children were young and we were OK only packing in a few runs in each day. As an anxious skimama, leaving her new baby for the first time, we were so pleased we had the terrific staff at Skiwiland to make sure we were OK too- as the creche is at the bottom of a run, it was super easy to pop in and make sure all was OK (and it always was!). The ski instructors at Skiwiland were terrific with our little Powder Hound- and managed to instill a love of skiing that has blossomed over the last 2 years (also, having skiing and boarding mad parents helps… I think that had they not loved the snow, we would have been VERY WORRIED). We hit The Remarkables for a day and had great fun there too- on our next trip, we are headed to Wanaka.
I’ve got lots to write about Queenstown but it is very early in the morning and I just want to give you some highlights- I will write more about “the details” but here are my must do’s.
1) Book a holiday to Queenstown- you will love it!
2) Book the kids into lessons at the Snowsports School – great instructors and genuinely lovely caring staff to take care of little ones (and anxious parents).. mascots are Shred the Kea and Spike the Kiwi… you will spot them around the mountains during the kids lessons.
3) Fergburgers- a Queenstown instituion and I think there may be something in the fine print when you arrive in NZ that you have an obligation to go and enjoy one of their burgers- the hype is justified
4) Harris Mountain Heliskiing- these guys know the mountains of the Otago region- you will have the best day skiing and boarding ever!! The Boarder still talks about the incredible runs from our last trip. Here are those said runs!
5) Arrowtown: gorgeous, beautifully restored and maintained 1850′s goldmining town about 20 mins drive from downtown Queenstown. A day trip for sure- lots to see and do and a cracker of a kids playground behind the main street. The bakery serves old school classics and a selection of excellent meat pies- lamb and mint was my pick and excellent!!.
6) Louis Vuitton: The Mall, Queenstown… confessions…I did not expect to find LV here before I arrived and was so happy to do a little apres-ski shopping here…
7) Bardeaux: cozy little wine bar which has an extensive collection of local wines and mix excellent cocktails… roaring fireplace, oversized leather club chairs make this a fave apres ski spot- this is a grown up bar, away from some of the party crowd of Queenstown
8) Snow Park… 60 mins from Queenstown- the drive is magnificent as you wind through the mountains . This was one of our fun days out- sledding, tubing and watching the big kids show some impressive moves on snowboards. This is a boutique resort so has less facilities than some Coronet Peak and Wanaka but is a really fun day out for a change of scenery.
9) Winnies Pizza. another Queenstown institution- Winnies is great for an early “kid’s dinner” fast service, yummy pizza’s and colouring books to keep children entertained. The staff are lovely- which makes dining with small children MUCH easier!!
10) Amisfield Winery and Restaurant- consistently rated one of Queenstown’s best restaurants. Their Pinot is divine and dining is exceptional- HIGHLY recommend taking the “Trust the Chef” for a degustation. And do make sure you book ahead- it is frequently booked out!!
The boarder is shouting out lots more recommendations… the Onsen, jet boats.. but I’ve got to get children to school so will have to save these for the next post!!