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Spring is King!

Monday, August 19th, 2019

We live for Spring here in the Wakatipu Basin.  Don’t get me wrong, obviously we’re pretty mad about the Winter season itself, but for some reason Spring has a vibe to it unlike the rest of the busier seasons – let me explain why you might think about a visit in September through November as a worthwhile option!

Skiing/Boarding: Our snow-sliding season officially comes to an end at the end of September into October (depending on the resort), and those searching specifically for powder and colder temperatures will generally come in July and August.  But there’s a lot of reasons to hit the ski fields in these later months.  Firstly, the mountains are normally at their peak snow-fall accumulation by the start of September, so coverage will generally be at it’s best.  We quite often get late season dumps – we had 60cm in late September in one storm last year – so don’t necessarily think you’re all done surfing pow just because you came later on.

Next, unlike the rest of the peak seasons, Spring-time sees a drop in tourist numbers, meaning the ski-fields (and town in general) are all yours for the taking.  You don’t need to be up at the crack of dawn to get that seat on the bus/carpark up top, take your time and slow down.  We’ve well and truly passed the shortest day of the year by now, so the days are gradually getting longer and warmer.  This means the snow is soft and slushy in the afternoons, it’s suns out/guns out on the runs as you comfortably ride in a t-shirt, and the outside decks are packed with people enjoying that apres ski life.  See the definition of happiness as people sink cold brews while they soak up the warm sun, high-fiving their friends as they reminisce on those last slash-filled runs.

Finally, if you’ve never ridden in Spring snow then in my opinion you’re missing out.  Purists who only ride in the very best of conditions might complain, but those in the know relish these conditions.  Technically ‘purists’ should never be trusted anyway – these people only ride in the very best of conditions (those couple of days a season), and make excuses for the other 95% of the season about why they don’t or can’t ride.  I don’t know about you, but I’m here for 100% of the season, so why be negative about the 95% when the 5% is a vague chance at best?

Conditions will be fast and firm first thing in the morning for those speedsters who like to break the sound barrier, and spring-pow by midday.  Ride like a god in the park and piste, slashing lines like there’s 30cm of fresh (and who knows, there might actually be!), and crush those new tricks in the park you’ve wanted to learn, because now the snow is soft and forgiving, and the lift lines are non-existent.  The resorts tend to put on Spring-time events to get involved in too, so the stoke is at an all time high.  I mean, the more I write about it, the more I’m hanging for it and wish it was September already!

Once the season ends, that doesn’t mean the fun has to.  Spring is cheaper for basically everything for starters – you’ll find deals on everything from accommodation to car rentals (and everything in between), so watch your dollar go further and maximise your holiday.  Hike’s have started to defrost and trails are empty, mountain-biking is gearing up for the Summer and trails have been buffed and cleaned in preparation for the rubber onslaught, and the flowers are starting to wake up in the gardens (so bring your anti-histamines if you suffer from hayfever!).  Those long sunny days can be jam-packed with everything you wanted to do, and you can finish it with a cold bevvy in the sun on the beach, because why the hell not?

So don’t listen to people who think they know best because they visited in peak season – listen to those of us who live here year round, and can let you in on our best-kept secret.  Spring is King!

Winterfest is 100 days away!

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

It always seems to sneak up on us every year.  One minute we’re donning our bikini’s and budgie-smugglers trying to cool off during the warm Summer days on the Wakatipu lakefront, the next we’re complaining about needing to upgrade our thermals and that “surely this Winter is colder than the last??!”.

OK, we’re not quite there yet, but when you get a reminder that Queenstown Winterfest is only 100 days away, how can you not get a little bit excited?  With a scheduled start on the 21st of June, the Winterfest programme promises to deliver the goods for 4 days of mostly free fun.  There really is no better way to bring in your Winter than a bunch of concerts and events celebrating the entire reason you came here in the first place – Winter, my dude’s!

We’ve enjoyed entering our fair share of events in the past, with our yearly dodgeball team turning out with great costumes (but maybe not great throwing arms or dodging skills).  If you can’t be bothered to go get involved yourself, there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying most of programme first-hand as a spectator.  Hell, from most of our rooms, you can even see a bunch of the events without even having to leave the comfort and warmth of your heatpump controlled home away from home in Queenstown Hostel sure to leave your friends green with envy 😉

But don’t be a winter-wally – get out there and get involved with as much as your schedule allows.  Tickets will be dropping shortly for the paid events, so keep an eye on the Winterfest website for details.  Most importantly, just make sure you get your accommodation booking in today for the best located Winterfest venue in town!

#Winteriscoming – which mountain is for you?

Monday, February 25th, 2019

We’re  pretty lucky here in the Queenstown Lakes District in that we’ve got not 1, but 4 different Winter resorts to throw yourself down when the snow comes calling.  But if you’re never been here before, which one is for you?

Coronet Peak:  The closest resort to Queenstown (25min drive to the top) but also the shortest in terms of height (approx. 1650m).  Coronet Peak boasts picturesque views out over the Wakatipu Basin from it’s relatively new base building, the most snow-making technology in the Southern Hemisphere, and the only place in NZ for night-riding.  When the snow-base is over 90cm that means the whole mountain is ride-able, and the terrain on those good days is almost unbeatable, but snow can be fickle due to it’s low height, and easy access can mean it gets busy.  New high-speed 6-chair on it’s way for 2019 season!

The Remarkables:  Second closest resort (35min drive to the top), approx. 1960m in height, and one of 2 mountain ranges in the world that all it’s peaks line up perfectly South/North.  New base building, road now asphalted almost the full drive from the bottom, and epic slack-country terrain and parks make this resort a damn good time.  Has the Freeride World Tour drop in every year to ride the in-bounds terrain – should give you an idea what you can access from the chairlifts – and one of 4 resorts in the world with a Burton Stash Park (as well as beginner/intermediate/advanced parks).  Something for everyone, but it’s rocky nature means it needs good snowfall to cover up all those shark-fins.

Cardrona:  Approximately halfway between Wanaka and Queenstown (50min-60min drive to the top), approx. 1950m in height, and probably the best all round resort in the South Island.  Dirt road to drive up, but has the most facilities at the top (multiple restaurants, bars etc.), the most chairlifts, biggest parks, world-cup super pipe, and all-round good terrain to ride.  They’ve got big plans for Cardrona in the coming years with more chairlifts and double the terrain, but they do need it as being in between Wanaka and Cardrona, it’s also one of the busiest consistently.  Still incredibly hard to beat, and to be fair, school holidays are busy everywhere – so make sure you visit this one a couple of times.

Treblecone:  About a 2hr drive to the top from Queenstown, Treblecone is currently the largest and tallest ski-resort in the South Island (approx. 2080m).  It’s a hell of a drive up a very steep dirt road, but for the intermediate-to-advanced riders out there, this one needs to be on your hit list.  Boasts the best freeride terrain the country, and the views over Lake Wanaka look like they’re painted.  Pretty quaint base building setup, and only 2 chairlifts, this one is really all about the steep chutes and crazy lines that you don’t even have to hike to.  If you’ve got some time up your sleeve and a bit of skill in your back pocket, don’t miss an opportunity to check it out.

No matter which resort you decide to spend your time in this season, just make sure you get your accommodation booked now – bragging rights don’t just apply to your riding 😉

 

The ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’t’s of #HostelLyf

Friday, January 25th, 2019

Generally we’re of the opinion that most people are pretty good when it comes to the way they conduct themselves in life, however there’s always a few bad eggs that ruin it for the rest.  Unfortunately if one person has an issue with another, that issue quite often gets dumped on our already quite full plate to deal with.  So to save some time, we thought we’d put up a few of the more regular things in a sort of positive/negative/positive sandwhich (so you don’t think we’re just a bunch of negative noddy’s)…

Do: Be respectful of people’s personal space – if you’re in a dorm room, the space afforded to you is a mathematical equation.  Specifically – square meters of room / how many beds in room = your space.  Just because you got there first, doesn’t mean you can claim the room as sovereign land.  That flagpole you’ve erected means nothing (and that flag with your face on it is shit)!

Don’t: Turn the room lights on between the hours of 12am and 8am.  Your bed has a light, the bathroom has a light (and a door to keep that light in the bathroom), and no doubt the phone you’re traveling with has a light.  Pretty sure you’d be upset too if you hoped for a good nights’ sleep and someone woke you in the wee hours of the morning to blowdry their hair.  Got a 6am flight to catch?  You should have packed your bag and sorted yourself the night before, NOT at 4:30am, you plonk.

Do: Talk to eachother.  With the advent of the smart-phone, we’ve noticed that people are less inclined to spark up a chat with their neighbour at the breakfast table.  Remember, you’ve all got at least 1 thing in common – you decided to come to Queenstown and stay with us!  Start chatting and living in the now, those instagram posts and facebook likes can wait – you’re not that popular anyway.

Don’t: Leave a mess, particularly in the kitchen.  Please, for the love of all that is good and clean, PLEASE clean up after yourself.  As your parents/guardian/ex-spouse would have no doubt told you at some point in your life, those dishes aren’t going to clean themselves.  We work incredibly hard to provide a kitchen any cook would be proud of (and we work even harder to keep it that way), but it only takes 1 person to take it from chef-chic to chef-shit.

Do: Get out and enjoy your surroundings.  The weather is crap?  Got a hangover?  Too bad – most of you are only here for a couple of days at best!  Do you want your memories of Queenstown to be the interior of our (well equipped, clean and friendly) hostel, or do you want your memories to be of the scenery, adventure and social life?  Put a jacket on, grab a coffee/panadol, and go get involved you silly sausage.

Don’t: Forget your room key.  We get it – you’re on holidays, free of the responsibilities of every-day life.  However that’s not entirely true is it?  You’ve got things to be on time for (flights, adventures, reservations), things to manage (personal belongings, budgets, expectations) and things to look after (wallets, passports, ROOM KEYS!!).  In fact, apart from the general things expected of any guest – read the above list for a few -it’s literally the only thing we make you responsible for.  Would you get up at 3am to let the person in that’s banging on your door, crying and spilling their pie on themselves?  Do yourself a favour and don’t be that sorry individual.

Do: Make the most of your days and keep a smile on that dial.  Hell, you’re in Queenstown – no one’s going to listen to anything you’ve got to complain about anyway; you’re already in a place that hopefully makes food taste better, music sound sweeter, and life just a little bit more worth living 😉

The Perfect Summer Holiday in Queenstown

Monday, November 26th, 2018

In heart of the South Island’s Central Otago region sits Queenstown, a popular vacation hot spot that boasts a lifetime of experiences in one location. A combination of world class tourist facilities and rugged unspoiled New Zealand landscapes, Queenstown is widely regarded as one of the top vacation destinations in the Southern hemisphere. An all-year resort, Queenstown has plenty to offer guests in both the peak summer and winter seasons. Here we will look at some of the more popular activities Queenstown has to offer in the summer.

A mecca for adventure tourism, Queenstown offers endless diversions for anyone looking to enjoy thrills, chills and spills on their summer holidays. Whether you are in the market for white water rafting, bungy jumping, off-road BMXing, jeboating, ziplining or more, Queenstown has you covered.

Looking for something a little less death-defying and a little more relaxing-in-the-sun on your Queenstown summer vacation? Not to worry! The more sedate pleasures of hiking across the stunning backcountry, leisurely tours of local wineries or long boat rides on Lake Wakatipu are all available.

Queenstown Summer Nature Hikes

Lovers of the great outdoors will love Queenstown – a resort town custom made for ramblers, outdoor explorers and off-road cyclists. There are spectacular hiking and biking trails throughout the region, and plenty of operators that provide guided tours and rent equipment to visitors looking to make the long trek into the wild backwoods of the South Island. One of the more popular trails, the Routeburn Track, requires a multi-day hike to conquer and highlights the moss-covered forests and towering mountain ranges that made Queenstown famous. A shorter trek on the same trail is the Routeburn Encounter, a 13-kilometre hike on some of the most scenic parts of the trail. Milford Sound, once called the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ by Rudyard Kipling, is another popular destination for nature lovers in Queenstown. The site is accessible via an overnight cruise with an overnight stay in a private cabin.

Summer Water Fun

Jet boating is another fun activity many enjoy during summer. The biggest jetboating operators in Queenstown are Shotover Jet and the Kawarau Jet, operating on the Shotover and Kawarau Rivers. Kawarau Jet will thrill passengers as their turbo charged boats zoom over shallow riverbeds at breakneck speeds, while Shotover Jet sends riders deep into steep canyons and imposing rock faces of the Shotover Gorge. Riders will be on the edge of their seats (literally!) as jetboat drivers skilfully manoeuvre the speeding craft through the raging waters and jagged rock-face of the gorge. Whichever jet boat ride you choose, you are guaranteed the white-knuckle adventure of a lifetime.

Lovers of Food & Wine

The Gibbston Valley and Bannockburn vineyards produce some of the best Pinot Noirs and Rieslings in the world, and open their doors to food and wine aficionados during the summer. A wine tasting tour followed by a gourmet lunch featuring local seasonal specialties among the vines is an unforgettable experience everyone should try at least once. That being said, one does not need to travel to distant vineyards to enjoy some fine dining – there many excellent restaurants in Queenstown itself, mostly along the lakefront.

The sky is the limit with it comes to summertime activities in Queenstown. Treat yourself to a luxurious ‘pamper package’ at The Spa in Millbrook Resort, take a leisurely cruise on board vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu, enjoy a sumptuous Kiwi barbeque by the lake, or simply stroll the lakeside gardens. Summer is the perfect time to experience the best Queenstown has to offer.

Exploring Queenstown From The Sky, Water And Ground

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

With endless walking and bike trails, incredible mountain ranges and massive lakes, exploring Queenstown is no mean feat – especially for the first time visitor. Here is a brief look at some of our favourite means of getting around and seeing all Queenstown has to offer, in no particular order:

Bike – Queenstown is a cyclist’s paradise, and guided bike tours can be a fun and relaxing way of exploring the area. Guided tours can range from short day trips to multi-day adventures across the countryside and enjoying the great outdoor views Queenstown has to offer. Furthermore, biking tours offers you the opportunity to find like-minded people who share your passion for cycling in the great outdoors. If you’re an experienced outdoor biker who prefers to go solo, there are plenty of bike shops that will rent you a bike and all the additional kit you need to set out on your own.

Helicopter Scenic flights over Queenstown’s distinctive landscapes is perhaps the ultimate way of exploring the resort town and its surrounding regions. Helicopter tours are available in a number of packages: including trips to Milford Sound, a panoramic trip across Queenstown, and even an Alpine snow landing where the helicopter drops you at the top of the mountain and you get to ski all the way down. Regardless of touring package, a helicopter ride around Queenstown will take your breath away.

Boat – Queenstown is located in New Zealand’s Southern Lakes region, home of some of the most picturesque waterways anywhere in the world. Prominent lakes in the region include Lake Wakatipu (on whose shores lies Queenstown itself), Lake Wanaka and Lake Te Anau. A peaceful lake cruise in these waters taking in the sights and sounds of the waterfront is a great way to spend the day. There are many operators offering a variety of cruising options, from day trips to overnight cruises. Those looking for something a little more adrenalin fuelled can try their hand at jetboating or parasailing, both of which are popular tourist attractions in Queenstown.

Car – The roads in and around Queenstown routinely make it the “Top Ten Scenic Drives in New Zealand” lists, and it’s easy to see why. Surrounded by serene lakes, snow-capped mountains and vast stretches of untouched wilderness, the roads around Queenstown boasts some of the most amazing scenery you will ever see as you drive by. Moving around by car is one of the best ways to take in everything the Southern Lakes region has to offer in the shortest amount of time.

Foot – Walking can be one of the most rewarding ways to explore Queenstown without breaking the budget. Queenstown itself is abuzz with bars, restaurants, cafes and bars, all within close walking distance of your hotel or accommodation. If you want to take your rambles out of town there are many excellent hiking trails in the area. Guided hiking tours are available that can last from a couple of hours to overnight camping excursions.

In Queenstown the adventure always starts just a few steps from your front door. Whatever your means of conveyance, we are sure you will have a great time exploring the best Queenstown has to offer.

Should we rent a car while we’re in Queenstown?

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

We get asked this question quite a bit throughout the year, and unfortunately our answer is generally the same – it entirely depends on your personal circumstances, budget, and travel desires.  So we’ll try and simplify it a little for you below

1.What are you trying to accomplish whilst you’re in Central Otago?

Is the extent of your intended experiences the amazing tour options available from Queenstown – think AJ Hackett Bungy, NZONE sky-diving, Queenstown Wine Tours, and even day tours to Milford Sound?  Maybe your just looking to enjoy Queenstown itself for it’s hospitality scene, a bit of frisbee golf, and a sit by the lake?

Alternatively, are you looking to explore Central Otago in general?  Grabbing a beer at the Cardrona pub, go-karting at Highlands motorsport park, hiking Paradise and Glenorchy, Mountainbiking in Alexandra – the list can go on and on.

Essentially, if you fall into the ‘former’ category, we’d recommend take the free tour transport available with all experiences, and enjoy the public transport options available to get around town.  If you’re more looking to explore a wider variety of options in the general area, you’ll definitely benefit from your own set of wheels.

2.Is it just yourself, or do you have a group of people/family?

This can go both ways really.  By all means, if you’re travelling by yourself, the cost of renting a car and the petrol associated with it may prove a little prohibitive.  In saying that though, having access to a car when fellow travelers don’t means you’ll generally meet some new people who will be willing to pitch in.

Generally speaking though, if you have a couple of people to split the cost with, a car is a great option for families and groups.  Gives you more flexibility, and will probably prove cheaper than buying 4 x bus tickets from Queenstown to Dunedin.  If you’re travelling by yourself, you could go either way here – refer back to question 1 and make your decision from there!

3.Are you coming to experience more of the South Island or just Queenstown?

Normally in Summer, people tend to come for longer periods of time, and tend to look to experience the whole South Island.  Alternatively, we find in Winter, most people are just coming to Queenstown to hit the skifields, and aren’t looking to ‘explore’ so much.

Your travel plans are going to dictate which is your best option, but much like question 1 – if you’re looking to experience a little more, particularly places/experiences that aren’t on the usual ‘beaten paths’, you’ll probably benefit greatly from your own set of wheels.  The nationwide bus systems are great – Intercity, Naked Bus and Atomic Shuttles – but they can be prohibitive in terms of timing, cost, and scope of where they travel to.  So what exactly are you looking to take in?  A little bit of research of bus timetables can go a long way, and you may find the places you HAVE to visit have been taken care of.  Otherwise it may show you the it’s called ‘the road less traveled’ for a reason, and thus you might have to take yourself!

In Winter it’s pretty simple really.  All of the ski resorts in the surrounding area provide transport to and from, and this is a great option particularly if you are not used to driving in Winter conditions.  If you’ve got a group of people, then by all means look towards a car option, as this will be cheaper for you if you’re going up more than once.  Just make sure at least one of your drivers is confident driving in snow/ice, as this can be an awful predicament during what was meant to be a relaxed holiday.  If you’re by yourself, we would highly recommend to simply take the transport available – it will be cheaper, easier, and most importantly, relaxed!

Parking in Queenstown is like parking in any busy city/town – timing is everything, and be prepared to pay!  It’s a hell of a lot cheaper to pay for parking here than in major destinations though, and if you stay at the best located accommodation in town, we’ll always point you in the right direction for free or cheap options.  Just don’t say we didn’t warn you! 😉

$50 or less in Queenstown

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

We’ve heard the complaint a few times in recent history – Queenstown is expensive.

Now, we’d like to stop you right there.  Firstly, Queenstown is no different to any other town/city in the western world; If you have expensive tastes, then yeah, your wallet is going to cop a hit.

The big difference though, is unlike Singapore, Sydney and New York, we actually have PLENTY of cheap options for food, drinks, and activities.  Don’t want to pay $40 for a main meal?  Fine!  Want to find a pint of beer that leaves you more than chump change from a $20?  Easy.  Need some entertainment but trying to avoid letting tour operators see the moths fly out of your wallet?  Then this next section is for you.

Drink:  This one is a no-brainer.  Anyone who complains about the price of a drink here – particularly if you’ve ever been to Australia – needs to check where they’re drinking.  Rhino’s Ski Shack, Harry’s Pool Bar, 1876, Loco’s and Searle Lane and Social all have pints starting from $6.  Thereafter, any one of the bars in town offers pints etc. for a still very reasonable $7 or $8.  Sure, there’s a few bars where you’ll pay a premium.  But hey, if money is an issue, maybe don’t go to them?  Also, if you want to have a cheeky bevvy by the beach, go to Henry’s liquor store, or any of the supermarkets for that matter (other than alpine).  The same price of a 6-pack in Australia will get you a 12 pack here – Booyah!

Food:  We covered this a little bit in a previous post – Food, food, FOOD! – but ‘quality’ and ‘cheap’ can actually go in the same sentence in this town.  Pub on Wharf, Atlas, Yonder, World Bar, Habebes, Tham Nak Thai, Searle Lane and Social, Wild Thyme, Loco Cantina, Smith’s Craft Beer Bar, etc. etc. etc.  The list of $20 or less mains and even cheaper lunch options really does just keep going.  And we haven’t even gotten started on all the take away options yet (think Fergburger).  We’ve been to just about every eatery in Queenstown, and the funny thing?  The only ones we’ve walked away from questioning the value and quality are – you guessed it – the expensive options.  You don’t need to worry about quality of fare in this foodies paradise.

Activities:  Okay, we’ll admit, it does get a little harder in this section.  Let’s face it – you’re not going to find a bungy or a skydive anywhere in the world for $50 or less, and we know that’s why you came here to read this part.  There are plenty of cheaper options of things to do here though, so bare with us here.  We’re not going to say go for a hike – you should be considering doing that anyway in our beautiful neck of the woods anyway – plus we already covered that in other blog posts.  We have an amazing frisbee golf course here on the lakefront, and if you grab a couple of free frisbee’s from reception at your favourite hostel, then guess what?  It’s free! Alternatively…

Go for a round of actual golf at the Frankton Golf Course for $15 if you’ve gotten a taste for golf that throwing a frisbee didn’t suffice.  Or mini-golf at Caddyshack City mini golf for $22 if you want to keep it fun and miniature.

Reading cinema’s in the Mall has cheap Tuesday, where all films are $13 ($17 normally), or treat yourself to a Dorothy Brown’s experience in Arrowtown from $18 for big comfy chairs and alternative films.

Take a cruise on the lake for an hour and a half with Million Dollar Cruises from $39, or head over to Mt. Nicholas Station – the side of the lake you can’t get to without a boat – for the same price.

Jump on a bar crawl with Kiwi Crawl for $35, or if you stay at the best accommodation in town on a Wednesday night, that crawl is only $25 – don’t say we never do anything for you!

Check out Minus5 IceBar from $35, or if you jump on that same pub crawl we mentioned above on a Wednesday, Minus5 is actually included!

Head up Skyline Gondola from $42 return, and add a luge for $49 total.  Or walk yourself to the top and enjoy the same view everyone else just paid for, and spend that money on a well-deserved beer for your effort.

Hit Fear Factory for a scare from $35, Kill zombies in virtual reality at Thrillzone from $32, and get lost in Escape Quest from $44 – just remember to bring a friend.

That just about covers it really.  There are more we could go into, but we think that should just about keep you entertained, fed, and watered during your time with us.  Just remember:  Don’t call us expensive!  If you’ve just come from South East Asia, then everything is expensive in comparison, but if you compare us to the rest of the western world, then we’ll start looking like bloody good value! 😉

 

Free Events at the 2018 Queenstown Winter Festival

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

For the past 43 years the Queenstown Winter Festival has been New Zealand’s biggest party, offering a raucous 4 day celebration to herald the start of the winter season. This year’s fest, sponsored by Real Journeys, promises to be the best yet, offering a stellar line-up of New Zealand’s hottest musical acts plus a whole host of events, competitions and activities the entire family can take part in.

Here are some of the best FREE-TO-ATTEND venues and events for this year’s festival, in no particular order:

Festival Village at Earnslaw Park (June 21st to 24th) – this venue is the central hub for Winterfest and is open at noon every day. Festival goers can sample the fine food and drink on offer at the venue, as well as enjoy live music and take part in activities. Highlights at the village include the four day Macpac Treasure Traverse as well as an interactive ‘live screen printing’ experience.

Real Journeys Queenstown Winter Festival Welcome (June 21st) – experience the official start of the festival with a traditional Waka Ama canoe race and Powhiri greeting ceremony at Marine Parade followed by a free open-air concert on the main stage at Queenstown Bay

Old Mout Dodgeball Champs (June 22nd) – not for the faint of heart, this event will test the dodge, dip, dive and dodge skills of even the most skilled dodgeball athlete. Event will be held at the Festival Village and is free to enter (with prior registration) and free to watch.

Winter Festival Snow Tubing (June 22nd) – slide down the side of a mountain on an inflatable tube, what more needs to be said? Event is free to enter at the Cardrona Alpine Resort, this year’s festival host mountain.

Real Journeys Friday Fireworks (June 22nd) – Lake Wakatipu lights up with a spectacular fireworks show at 7pm in Queenstown Bay. The fireworks show is followed by a free concert at the Bath House stage.

iHeartRadio Day on the Bay (June 23rd) – the fun never ends on this day jam packed with events and excitement, all of which are free to the public. Events include the always hilarious Go Orange Ripper Rafting, followed by the JUCY Undy 500 underwear marathon and the exhilarating lunacy of The Hits 90.4 Birdman icy-cold lake water diving contest.

Mitre 10 MEGA Easy as Kids Workshops at Festival Village (June 23rd) – here’s one for the kids! These workshops teaches kids the joys of working with their hands by giving them the opportunity to build their very own toolbox they can bring home. Workshops are free to attend, but space is limited so prior registration is recommended. Suitable for kids aged 5-12, parental accompaniment is mandatory.

For more information on more events for this year’s festival, please visit www.winterfestival.co.nz

Hiking in the South Island no.3

Friday, April 27th, 2018

Guest Blogger: Lucy Xu (Reception Manager)

Nature and the mountains are calling out to you to explore! Our beautiful home of New Zealand offers an endless amount of jaw dropping scenery and there is just so much to explore. The diversity in the scenery here is certainly spectacular; there are glaciers, deep rainforest and lakes so beautiful you just have to go for swim. There is truly no better way to get up close and person with nature than spending a few hours or days just taking in all that New Zealand has to offer and exploring on foot. Speaking from the perspective of a local of 6 ish years, I’ve composed a list of a few of my absolute favourite places to explore and a few handy tips 😉

So without further ado, here comes a hike a day!

Mount Cook:

The Mueller Hut – The most breath-taking views, probably my top hike ever! This one is an overnight hike, or it can be done in one day. Seriously good looking views from the summit, worth the climb! The views feature New Zealand’s highest peaks, huge glaciers, ice cliffs and a view of Mount Cook that is simply incredible. I would strongly recommend staying the night in the hut. The views at sunset and sunrise are just magical. The hut must be booked in advance via the DOC website.

The hike is only 4 hours up to the summit, but don’t be fooled by the short time, it’s seriously tough on the legs. It’s a solid 2 hours of climbing wooden steps followed by a 2 hour scramble up rocks. Then you’ll face a ridge line with potential gale force winds. To finish the hike is a nice trudge through snow! Well the snow may not be there, but I did go in the middle of summer and the last 45 minutes was ankle deep snow. But it is all worth it. Make sure you do prepare for all weather conditions, as you experience them all on this hike. I experienced 25 degree heat for the first 3 hours, followed by gale force winds at 90 km/ hr, followed by snow!

Once you get to the hut, you can drop your bags off and you must do the side walk to Mt Olliver. It’s a short scramble up some rocks, and you’ll get unbelievable panoramic views of the area.  The hut is quite basic; there is water, toilets, gas stoves and mattresses in the communal sleeping rooms. Please note that there is no toilet paper, cooking utensils, cooking pots or washing up liquid so you’ll have to bring these. You’ll also need plenty of food and a sleeping bag. Some lightweight shoes to wear inside the hut is also a good idea, as you’ll have to leave your hiking boots at the entrance. Also bring a good torch! The light in the hut is quite limited and the toilet is also located outside, so it may be a short walk in the snow to reach it.

Everything about this hike is an amazing experience; make sure you add it to your bucket list!