Hustle, bustle, crowds and queues – not to mention costly: the Queenstown of today is far from the peaceful, low-key holiday spot it once was – unless, of course, you know how to escape the mayhem. So sit back and let us take you on a tour of the quiet, inexpensive treasures this pretty city and its environs still has to offer.
Beautiful Bob’s Cove
Ditch the crowds clustering on the foreshore at Queenstown and head instead to stunning Bob’s Cove just 14km out of town on the road to Glenorchy. This bush-fringed inlet is best approached via the well-formed walking trail which leaves from the adjacent car park to skirt the crystal clear waters of Lake Wakatipu. You’ll be unlikely to find another holiday maker in this idyllic neck of the woods where swimming is made even more fun thanks to an old wharf which makes for a perfect diving board. History buffs will enjoy visiting the remains of an old lakeside lime kiln dating back to the 1800s while birders will have plenty to watch out for. Whether you’re picnicking, fishing or just skipping stones, Bob’s Cove guarantees you a day out from crowds.
While ‘camping’ has become seriously commercialised in central Queenstown, a more laid-back, Kiwi approach to the simplistic art of outdoor making-do can still be found at Twelve Mile Delta Campsite – and for a fraction of the cost of pitching the tent or parking the camper in the middle of the city. Not quite true to its name, the camp is actually situated 12 kilometres from Queenstown on the Glenorchy road. On the shores of Lake Wakatipu, it tends to fill up quickly over the busiest holiday periods but this in no way detracts from its charm. With simple but clean toilets (no bathrooms) and running water, it attracts those who still want to enjoy the outdoors as they once did – with a Thermette and barbeque and all the time in the world to chat to their tenting neighbours. This is a campsite not to be missed.
Take time to smell the roses
Queenstown has developed a reputation for offering expensive, thrill-seeker rides yet some of the most memorable experiences are free. Escape the throngs and saunter around the municipal gardens just a five-minute walk from the shops. Filled with roses that perfume the warm air in summer, the gardens are also home to a variety of heritage trees dating from the mid-1800s, a tranquil duck pond and colourful perennial beds. Adjoining the gardens is the pleasant Queenstown Bowling Club where visitors are invited to give the sport a go with soft-soled shoes and bowls available for hire at just $10 a person.
When it comes to cost, eating out in Queenstown is not for the faint-hearted, unless of course you head to Caribe Latin Kitchen on Ballarat Street. This truly authentic Central American cuisine is cooked up by the friendliest staff and served with an exciting array of help-yourself spicy sauces. While the entire menu is tempting, arepas ($8-$10) come highly recommended. These crunchy, gluten-free flat breads are filled with a range of fresh ingredients. Best of all, if you find you can’t live without them, the raw ingredient (ground maize) is sold by the bag to take home. Just ask at the counter.