For anyone who knows me you’ll know I’m not one to overly show my emotions too often. That’s why I feel it’s kind of a big deal I’m labelling somewhere as my “happy place”. If you didn’t catch my latest post “It’s been a while…” you won’t know that after 6 months living in Queenstown I’ve recently relocated to Christchurch to pursue my archaeological career. Although all this change is super positive I can’t help but feel like my time in QT was cut a little bit short. I don’t know what it is about QT but it’s the first place I can honestly say I’ve been 100% genuinely happy. Arguably this isn’t a place you could keep up this happiness long term; it’s a bit of a bubble and probably not the best place for your liver to thrive but nevertheless it will always hold a very special place in my heart. With this in mind I wanted to post about a few of my favourite things now that I’ve experienced QT as once tourist, then local, and now honourary Kiwi resident.
If you’re looking for a day hike (or tramp as the Kiwi’s like to say) from QT then Ben Lomond is an absolute must. The round trip takes between 5-8 hours depending on your ability and how much time you will inevitably take to stop, completely gobsmacked and take in your surroundings. If you’re feeling a little lazy you can grab the gondola up to Skyline and start the walk from there but I’m an all or nothing kinda gal and wanted to do the whole hog. Make sure you take some warm layers because even in summer the summit is going to be a bit chilly.
I’ve got to admit that I felt a like a bit of an idiot when I did this hike. It’s easy to get sucked into QT life and forget that there’s actually a world beyond the mountains encasing Lake Wakitipu. As me and my friend Jo started to make the climb up to the summit you can see all these breathtaking mountains rolling for miles and miles that you never even think about because they’re sat behind the mountains you look at every day. The flight into QT is probably my favourite purely because of these mountains but in the few months of living here I quickly forgot they even existed.
What best way to induct myself into the adrenaline junkie lifestyle? Doing the biggest bungy in Oceania, naturally. All 134 metres of it. That’s enough time to scream, run out of breath, fill your lungs, and start to scream again. I was actually really calm in the 45 minute drive from QT town centre to the bungy in a stark comparison to the 3 guys I was with. But admittedly as they sat me down and strapped me in the fear caught up with me. After a quick hop to the edge and a rather loud scream of “WHAT THE FUCK HAVE I DONE” I was hurtling towards the bottom of the canyon. Would I do it again? Absolutely.
In my opinion this was worth every cent (all $275 of it) and I’d recommend it to any tourist. In hindsight however if I had known I was going to be sticking around the area for a while I would have waited for one of the “locals days”. This is when all the QT locals (you don’t have to be Kiwi for this) get to enjoy some good ol’ discounts. These usually happen in the shoulder seasons when the tourist businesses aren’t too busy but it’s definitely something to take advantage of if you’re going to be hanging around a while and want to nab a bargain.
If you’ve known me during my time in QT then you’ll know I have a major obsession with this place. It’s brunching heaven. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do on a morning off work then head to Bespoke for breakfast, some coffee, and read a good book. While you may think I’ve just aged 20 years within one sentence I challenge you to go try it then get back to me. Even just thinking about the food in this place is making me want to hop in a car and drive 6 hours. I’m talking last meal kinda good here.
Vudu in the centre of town is also ran by the same people but it’s smaller and much busier. The chilled out atmosphere of Bespoke is one of the main reasons I love the place so much.
Got a day to kill? Drive about 20km south to find Arrowtown. A massive regret of mine is not spending more time in this charming little place. Founded during the Otago goldrush this mining town has been amazingly preserved (that’s the Archaeologist coming out there…). My advice for the day would to be to head to Provisions for breakfast (their buckwheat pancakes are insane), then go for a walk through the Sawpit Gully to work up an appetite for lunch, once you’re back in town head for Slow Cuts (for the best veggie burger you’ll ever have), then off to Dorothy Brown’s boutique cinema where you can watch a movie whilst relaxing on their sofas with a glass of wine and a cheese board. If you’re not ready for home after that head to The Blue Door for a bev or two. Now that’s my kinda day.
Finally (this is going to be soppy, prepare yourself), if it wasn’t for the people I went to all these places with and did all these things with I don’t think I would have had anywhere near as much fun. As long as you’ve got the right people with you almost anywhere can be your “happy place”…but I think the mountains and those sunsets do help a little bit…