Nestled in the Southern Alps of New Zealand on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, the resort town of Queenstown has earned the reputation of being sophisticated and exceptionally scenic
Nestled in the Southern Alps of New Zealand on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, the resort town of Queenstown has earned the reputation of being sophisticated and exceptionally scenic

One of the world's top destinations, this “Adventure Capital of the World” is definitely for the bold and daring! Queenstown offers more than 150 adrenaline-fuelled experiences, which figure in the bucket lists of many. Queenstown is also a place for indulgence with exceptional food and wine, lake cruises, spa treatments, boutique and leisurely games of golf. 

The area’s history is intertwined with gold. When the gold rush peaked in 1863 and finally ran out some years later, many of those early prospectors decided to stay in Queenstown, captivated by the beauty of the surrounding mountains and rivers and named it Queenstown- “town fit for a Queen”. During the 1900s Queenstown became a popular summer holiday retreat for lower South Islanders, many of who had a “crib” (holiday home) here.

Into this Queenstown, we stepped one sunny afternoon and headed straight to Queenstown’s famous “Fergburger” that specialises in gourmet hamburgers, and is quite well known internationally.

Fergburger
If you have not eaten at Fergburger, it means you have not visited Queenstown. After placing the order, we checked out the surrounding shopping areas for almost an hour, collected our burgers, walked up to the nearby lakeshore, settled down and religiously clicked pictures of our respective treasures and posted them on the social media.

After all, it is not every day that you eat in Fergburger, right? Relishing every morsel, we ate as the ducks and seagulls aggressively/noisily begged for their share. I chose Bombay Chicken: grilled chicken tenderloins marinated in chilli, ginger and coriander yoghurt, cucumber raita, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli and mango chutney – sounds familiar? It tasted great! Well, almost as good as the burgers and chicken rolls back home from Universal Bakery in Secunderabad- it is tough for any eatery to match the taste of the said bakery but Fergburger did it, winning my deep appreciation and full marks!

Gondola Ride
From our hotel (Crowne Plaza, which lies in the heart of the town), we walked a mere five minutes to step into the Gondola that lifted us high above Queenstown to Bob’s Peak. The Skyline complex is home to several adventure activities including the gondola, luging, flying fox, bungee, tandem paragliding, walking and biking tracks. From the top, we had the most captivating 360 degree panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu, The Remarkables, Cecil, Walter and Coronet Peaks and a spectacular sunset.

Kiwi Haka
A peep into Māori culture came with the Kiwi Haka show, a powerful combination of traditional song and dance. It was a journey through the mythical legends into the spiritual world of Maori: a proud history celebrated passionately with the fearsome haka and the stunning poi display.  The haka is a traditional war cry/challenge in Māori culture. It is a posture dance performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet to the accompaniment of war cries. When I asked about the outstretched tongues and the significance behind, the three men got more violent with their tongues, almost scaring me. But to scare is their aim. The point of the haka is to intimidate the opponent!

Stargazing
Clad in the “Canadian Goose down jackets” that can protect up to “– 30 degrees centigrade”, we climbed to the top of the hill to gaze at the star-spangled sky; using powerful telescopes, the professional stargazing guides led us through our mesmerising galaxy to explore the hidden world of the Southern night sky, the Milky Way, the nebulas, and the unique Southern Hemisphere stars and constellations including the Southern Cross and Alpha Centauri.

‘Lord of the Rings’ Glenorchy Tour
Glenorchy is the gateway to some of New Zealand’s best scenery with stunning vistas of sweeping valleys and majestic peaks and a prime location for film shoots (Hollywood blockbusters like ‘The Hobbit’ movies and ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy were shot here). Next morning we set out to explore the Glenorchy area to see several of these filming locations. The 45 km drive was most scenic along Lake Wakatipu, with breath-taking views, hanging valleys, glaciers, islands, waterfalls and mountains.  David patiently stopped at every location from the ‘Lord of The Rings’ film trilogy and explained with pictures for proof.

We could identify the locations of Minis Tirith, the Misty Mountains, the Pillars of the Kings, the ford of Bruinen and the site of Isuldir’s fall. Later in the birch rainforest, we had our ‘Lord of the Rings’ moment, thanks to David who came fully equipped: dressed in capes, holding LOTR swords we clicked pictures.  Later, sitting under the birch trees, I had hot chocolate and ginger biscuits imagining myself in the next film, hoping that Peter Jackson would contemplate LOTR 4.

By:Vijaya Pratap