‘In Ferg we trust” it says on the sign above the door at Fergburger at 42 Shotover Street, Queenstown, and after a burger or two, you know that you can’t do anything else but trust. And love. And love I most certainly did.
There is so much hype that surrounds Fergburger. So much so, that when researching things to do, see, eat in Queenstown the first words uttered from every single one of my friends in Melbourne were “you MUST try Fergburger”. Every-single-friend. One friend even recommended eating Fergburger until we got sick and traumatised!! Ah huh!! So with that in mind, there was no need to do any further research, it was just simply something that one MUST do when in Queenstown.
Fergburger started as a late night, hole in the wall burger place for those spilling out of the numerous nightclubs and pubs drunk and in need of a decent feed to soak up the copious amount of booze consumed. It fast grew into a late night Queenstown institution and relocated to the spot it is in now on Shotover street.
We had been warned that there would be a wait for our burgers especially in peak eating times. Often the wait can be up to 45 minutes so Ferg now has an online ordering system to ease the congestion. Fresh from our flight and check in at our hotel, we arrived at Fergbuger at approximately 4pm with a line of approximately 20 people in front of us. Yes, at 4pm!! The line moves pretty quick as the staff behind the counter and grill move quicker than any I’ve seen in any McDonalds and I thought they were fast. It is a well oiled machine, so about 20 minutes later we had these famous burgers in our hands and were ready to see if they really were worth all the fuss.
And they are! They really really truly 100% are!!!
I ordered a ‘Ferg Delux’ which has NZ beef, streaky bacon, cheddar cheese, sweet dill pickle, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli and tomato relish. And I continued to order this every time I visited thereafter. I mean why order something else when this was literally my burger dream! You can check out the menu here.
I’ll tell you why this burger is so amazingly good. Everything is so so so soooooo fresh. The beef is cooked so that there just the right amount of red in the middle without it spoiling the rest of the burger. The pickles are a plenty and delicious, the salad is ample, the burger roll fresh (comes from the Fergbakery) and the sauces, really tasty. And they’re large! You know like the old school fish n chip shop burger large, not like these pissy little half burgers we seem to get these days in Australia.
But the best thing aside from the taste, and this is what really shocked us, was that we felt so great after eating it. Normally after a burger I have burger regret, they may taste good but I mostly feel bloated and gross in the stomach for having eaten it, even those small pissy ones. Not with Furgburger!! Uh huh, no burger regret whatsoever! Winning!
So that being said we just had to sample more of the Fergburger. We went back another two times during our week stay in Queenstown, hey I’d have gone more if it weren’t for the fact that 99.9% of food in Queenstown is ahhhh-may-zing!!! As I said I never deviated away from the delicious Ferg Delux, but my travel partner, Hannah did try the Cockaddodle Oink. She said it was quite delicious BUT, the Ferg Delux was hands down the winner. Now that I am home, I have serious FOMO over Fergburger. Why Melbourne? WHYYYYY can’t you do a burger as good as the Ferg? Actually, probably a good thing you don’t.
Believe the Fergburger hype people, it is very real! Check out Fergburger here and while you’re there, don’t miss out on Fergbakery which is right next door to Fergburger. Their pies are to die for!
The hotel is approximately 15 minutes from the airport and close to all attractions including the ski fields. Literally a two – five minute walk into the shopping and restaurant precinct of Queenstown. The hotel is equip with all necessary facilities including car parking, one restaurant, one bar, room service, convention area and meeting rooms.
The concierge upon check in, Sharlene was super friendly, efficient and very helpful. She gave us plenty of information on tours, cafés, bars and restaurants that did help did us with our trip.
To the side of the hotel check in area is a mini tourist office which is where you can book all tours, experiences and bus trips as well as information on pretty much anything you need for your stay in Queenstown. The employees here were very knowledgeable and helped Hannah and I choose alternatives to tours when one of our previously booked tours had been cancelled.
Rooms range from standard rooms to one bedroom apartments. We chose a lakeside room with two double beds as we really wanted to see the view of the lake and mountains from our room. Considering you see this view anywhere you walk in Queenstown if I stayed at the Novotel next time I would rather save the extra money that we paid for the view and spend it roaming around on a winery tour.
But that very spacious, immaculately clean, and warm. The beds were really comfortable and also very warm, loved the heavy black throw rug so much I wanted to bring it home with me.
I’d be more than happy staying at the Novotel next time I visit Queenstown. It had everything I needed for my week stay. What made the hotel exceptional were the staff, so helpful, knowledgeable and efficient. Greeted every morning with a smile before heading out for the day was a welcomed surprise. The location of the hotel is superb, not right in the middle of the bars and restaurants but a quick walk away from it all which for us was perfect.
Cnr Earl St and Marine Parade, 9300, QUEENSTOWN NEW ZEALAND
I’ll start with saying, I am a moderately experienced fine diner. And with a great foodie reputation of course I was excited to try out some of Queenstown’s finest.
I always like to treat myself to one ‘fancy’ dinner experience while travelling abroad. I go all out, and why shouldn’t I? When it came to researching fine dining establishments for this trip to Queenstown it came down to three choices. My travel partner, Hannah and I did two. A girl’s got to treat herself once in a while right?
And treat myself we certainly did.
Rata is what I’d imagine heaven looks, feels and tastes like. Rata is owned and operated by internationally recognised Michelin starred chef Josh Emett, and highly regarded local restaurateur Fleur Caulton. From the moment that you walk in the door you are greeted with warm and earthy toned décor mixed with an industrial feel. The place is charming and so are the staff, as you’d expect from a restaurant with such a glowing reputation.
Hannah and I had already picked apart the menu the day before so we knew exactly what we were going to eat. Great forward thinking by us as the menu has such a delightful and comprehensive array of beautiful locally sourced meals it would have been hard for us to choose on the spot.
The wine list is impressive and is carefully selected to showcase the local Central Otago wine region. We chose to share a bottle of Carrick’s ‘Bannockburn’ 2015 Pinot Noir.
For our Entrée we decided to share three dishes:
Goats cheese profiteroles with Rata blossom honey
Free range chicken terrine with pickled baby leek, mushroom puree, toasted brioche
Southland cheese roll with bitter leaves, picked butternut, hazelnut, honey, pear
Our favourite with the entrée selection was hands down the Goats Cheese Profiteroles. What a taste sensation! This certainly does not take away from the deliciousness of the Chicken Terrine and the Southland Cheese Roll, as they were so flavoursome and fresh, but the profiteroles were light as a feather and the goats cheese smooth and creamy, the combination made for a perfect tasty starter to our meal.
For main we chose individual meals and some sides to share:
Glazed Wakanui beef cheek, red cabbage, Canterbury truffle quick brown fox jus
Pan fried blue cod, silver beet, Jerusalem artichoke, lemon, caper beurre noisette
Beetroot & goats cheese salad with rocket, candied walnuts, persimmon
Charred cauliflower with winter pesto, toasted almonds
I know Hannah really enjoyed her cod as I did my beef cheek. The cheek being very tender it fell away just with my fork, the accompanying jus was rich and tasty balancing out the cabbage and Canterbury truffle. We both took our time with our main meals and sides in order to savour each bite and fully concentrate on the tastes we were experiencing. A really delightful main meal, one that I am sure we will remember for a long time to come.
Now onto the most important part of this review…. The dessert. At this stage of the eating game we definitely had plenty and were about to call it quits as we thought we had experienced the best that there was of Rata. That was until our waiter pleaded with us to at least try the salted caramels. So, for dessert we ordered to share:
Wet jacket mulled wine poached pear with cinnamon anglaise foam, pain d’epices ice cream with walnut granola.
I mean why not? When on holidays and all!
Normally I am not much of a dessert person, I’d rather have a cheese plate after dinner (that was on offer!) but we thought that with all we had experienced so far, the dessert just had to be special. And so it was. Beyond our expectations, next level amazing!!
I patiently watched Hannah bite into her first salted caramel and watched her eyes roll back in her head. I am serious!! So when I finally bit in to mine and the salted caramel oozed through the chocolate casing onto my tongue, I honestly think that I had a food orgasm right there in middle of Rata, either that or I’d died and gone to heaven. The mulled wine poached pear was lovely too, but nothing could ever come close to our new love, the most fabulous salted caramels.
I am still dreaming about those salted caramels and would definitely go back to Queenstown just to taste them again. That is a huge call for someone who doesn’t really ‘do’ desserts. In all, Rata was our favourite dining experience of all the food experiences in Queenstown and that says a lot considering 99.9% of food options are above what I’d consider to be really good. Josh Emett has done an amazing job of showcasing his talents and combining them with beautiful food and environment. Rata is the kind of special place where you can’t help but fall in love with the entire experience.
I still remember every bite I ate and the feeling I had when that salted caramel hit my tastebuds, it was the feeling of utter happiness and contentment. Walking away from Rata with a satisfied smile on our faces, my travel buddy and I didn’t even need to speak to each other to know that we had just experienced food nirvana. I don’t know when, if ever, a restaurant has ever made me feel that way. I’ll be back Rata!!
Te Nuku, 43 Ballarat Street Queenstown Phone +64 3 442 9393
In choosing our second night of fine dining in Queenstown we sought advice from friends of mine that were in the know. They went to Bunker in January after another not-to-be-named-but-very-well-known-restaurant would not allow them to bring a $1000+ AUD bottle of Grange to open to celebrate the night after their wedding. I get that they have their own wine list, but… wouldn’t that have been an honour for them to open such a bottle of wine?
Anyway I digress, so after explaining their request to Bunker, the staff there very accommodating and happily took on board my friends request being very excited to be able to share in this experience with them. My friends being that impressed with the level of service and care taken to ensure that their dining experience was special, gave their waiter a small glass of the Grange which he shared with the other waiters.
That goes a very long way in my book. Sometimes rules are mean to be broken or bent so that awesome experiences can be had. So, with all of that in mind, what goes around comes around, their kindness towards my friends meant that Bunker was a natural choice for our second fine dining experience in Queenstown.
Bunker has a cosy cocktail bar upstairs which is where we started our evening. It’s warm, inviting, kind of old school and while the cocktails are a little pricey, they are quite delicious. I tried an Espresso Martini and my travel buddy an Old Fashioned. Downstairs hidden away in a little alleyway called Cow Lane, the restaurant is equally as cosy as the cocktail bar and sets quite an intimate atmosphere. A perfect place for a quiet dinner with a loved one or good friend.
For entrée we both ordered the ‘Canter Valley Peking duck dumplings with sesame baby vegetables and hoisin consommé’. I paired this with a glass of 2017 Amisfield Pinot Gris from Central Otago. The Peking duck dumplings were simply delightful. The dumplings were soft and not too thick while the duck inside was very tender with a beautifully fresh Asian taste. The consommé, while not too overpowering in taste was quite delicious and a perfect accompaniment to the duck dumplings.
For main we ordered:
Seared loin of Central Otago Alpine Merino lamb with olive hash, walnut puree, herbed chevre, winter greens and thyme jus.
Spinach, almond and ricotta gnocchi with baby winter vegetables, toasted chevre and beurre noisette.
I was particularly feeling like some lamb and boy this was a treat. I paired the lamb with a glass of the 2015 Amisfield Pisa Pinot Noir, again from the Central Otago region. The lamb was quite tender and cooked to perfection, with the ride shade of red/pink in the middle. The meal in its entirety was superb! Right balance of taste, and presented like a piece of art. Hannah really enjoyed her gnocchi and mentioned that it was particularly light and balanced with fresh and crisp vegetables.
Dessert for Hannah was the deconstructed ‘Pavlova’ and I opted for a cheese plate accompanied with another glass of the Amisfield Pinot Noir. Perfect paring as far as I am concerned, you simply cannot have cheese without wine! New Zealand does this wonderful thing of putting fresh honey comb on their cheese plates/platters and let me tell you this is perfectly matched with a creamy blue. My cheese platter for those as obsessed with cheese as I am, had this:
Kikorangi blue, fresh honey comb
Manchego, spiced figs
Double creamed brie, candied nuts
Aged cheddar, quince jam
In all, Bunker did not fail to disappoint. The experience was quite different to that of Rata but by no less amazing. From the level of service, the ambiance, and the exquisite food, Bunker offers a remarkable fine dining experience that should not be missed if you happen to be in Queenstown.
Queenstown. Queenstown. Queenstown! Are you not the prettiest, most delightful and exciting spots in my Southern Hemisphere neck of the woods. Kia Ora to you, my new destination love.
New Zealand had always been on my list of places to visit, but with it only being a 3-hour flight from Melbourne, I’d always pushed going there far down the travel destination bucket list. I mean I have had quite the ongoing love affair with Europe that has been ticking along quite nicely for the last 15 years and considering I still have so much more to explore in Europe, New Zealand would have to wait.
Anyway, New Zealand is just like Australia isn’t it? (If you’re a Kiwi and reading this, don’t shoot me, please do read on!).
It was after solid advice from friends and a fellow traveller on my trip to Norway in October 2017 that totally changed my perspective of New Zealand, especially the South Island. So, it soon became my new must-go-to destination. That, and New Zealand was a special place for me to visit, as it was on my darling Mum’s travel bucket list – for more on my Mum’s story and why this trip was important, you can read here
My travel partner for this trip was a good friend of mine, Hannah. Work takes Hannah to New Zealand’s North Island quite often however she was yet to explore the South. Hannah is quite like me, not into the crazy adventure sports that Queenstown is famous for, more of the seek some stuff, visit a few sights, eat, drink, people watch and chill, so she was a perfect partner in crime for this trip.
Like Norway, the South Island is majestically beautiful. You get your first glimpse of exactly how stunning the area is from the air and let me tell you the view is eye popping spectacular. From the air the landscape is an extreme contrast of the lush coast line and fjords, never-ending snow-capped peaks, barren brown mountains, turquoise rivers, deep blue lakes, stunning green farming land and the cutest of little towns spattered here and there. If this was what the Queenstown area looked like from the air, I couldn’t wait to touch down and start exploring on land.
Famous for good views, great food, excellent wine, adventure sports, abundant ski fields, and good old Kiwi hospitality, Queenstown was sure to be a sensory delight for us both. Each day brought us a new adventure, a new place to eat, people to meet, and new scenery to take in. Food was a major highlight for the both of us so before we left home we did plenty of research and asking friends of their favourite places to eat while in Queenstown, and every single one of them gave a hyped up notable mention to the Queenstown institution, Fergburger. As we managed to fit in quite a lot of eating, including two fine dining experiences, I’ve written a separate blog post just on the food and wine experience alone. So, if that’s your thing, click here and I promise you that you’ll be booking a flight to Queenstown before the end of reading the post.
Before leaving Australia, we also did our research into where we wanted to go and what tours we wanted to do, and with only one cancellation, we were able to get around and experience quite a lot in our week break. We managed to fit in trips to Arrowtown, Wanaka, Gibbston Valley, Coronet Peak Ski Field and the majestic Milford Sound which was all sort of amazing. We even took a helicopter ride back from Milford Sound which was a last minute-crazy adventure. To find out about the tours we did click here
Our trip was towards the end of July so the weather at that time is cold, but it is winter, so we expected it. And while it was cold they certainly turn on the warmth indoors. It didn’t snow in Queenstown while we were there, but there was plenty of the white stuff in the surrounding mountains to see. We were told that the snow really hits a bit later so if that’s your thing I’d suggest mid-August. We were also told that the autumn months are particularly beautiful, so March, April and May are your best bets for that. I can only imagine how beautiful it will be to go back to the area at that time of the year and sipping wine in the sunshine.
Queenstown is a hot mix of culture, where the Kiwis seem to be outnumbered by international workers and tourists all of whom seem really happy to be there. I don’t blame them really. Although they were few and far between, every Kiwi we did happen to meet was super friendly and quite endearing, even if there was a bit of Aussie bashing going on, ah there’s nothing like Aussie v Kiwi rivalry to keep you entertained.
The town is small enough to not need to hire a car, taxi or Uber. There is a shuttle bus to and from the airport which is $15 NZD each way or you can catch a taxi which can cost approximately $40NZD. This would be the only real time that you would ever need to catch a taxi in Queenstown though. We spent most of our time walking around the town getting to and from places, bars, restaurants and shops, nothing being more than a 10-minute walk from our hotel.
What did surprise me was the shopping. Slightly cheaper than Melbourne, but some real unique pieces of clothing, jewellery and natural beauty products. I shopped up a storm, yes, my credit card took a hiding, but when on holidays, enjoy right? I especially loved the Manuka honey hand creams (feel so good on the skin) and the merino wool everything.
The more I explored Queenstown and it’s surrounds the more it reminded me of different pockets of Europe. The west coast fiords are very similar to Norway’s famous fjords, flying over the southern alps reminded me of my flight from Oslo to a Tromso in Norway. The snow-capped mountains reminded me of Switzerland and on the ground, the buildings and the whole vibe of Queenstown reminded me of many European towns. Basically, Europe on my doorstep. But its New Zealand, and it IS different to Europe and is nothing like Australia thank goodness!
With Queenstown being only a 3-hour flight from Melbourne I can’t help but think that for too long I have had my head in the sand to have left it until now to make my first trip. There is so much to love about the place, so much that I contemplated the thought that I could be very happy living there. Yep! It really is that good! Queenstown has such a relaxed vibe about it, it is pretty, friendly, happy, engaging, charming and draws your heart into falling in love with it. But it is the views that really leave you spellbound. Everywhere you turn there is something so spectacular off into the distance it is hard to know where to turn next, and it is for this reason that I felt at such peace and so still, patient, happy and relaxed. I guess this is why I feel that a week wasn’t long enough. Queenstown is not only a delight to your taste buds as much as it is to your eyes! I honestly can’t wait to go back to the place that has kind of stole my little Aussie heart.
From Australia Air New Zealand, Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar all fly Queenstown direct. Often there are some decent specials at different times of the year. Peak season is the winter months for the ski season, so prices are generally higher then.
We stayed at the Novotel Queenstown, you can read my review here.
I am the first to admit that I am a bit (well a lot) useless when it comes to heights and adventure sports. Let’s not get started on how clumsy I am either (yes, I may have snapped my ankle on both sides one while standing still and wearing thongs on my feet) so anything remotely close to the thrill seeking adventure sports that Queenstown is famous for was always going to be a definite no for me! Strangely though, I absolutely love being in a plane. And now after this trip I can actually say I absolutely love being in a helicopter (more about that in this post about my Milford Sound Experience).
So, what is a less adventurous person supposed to do in the adrenaline capital of New Zealand?
Eat? Yes, we did plenty of that (check out this post on the fabulous food we ate)
Drink? Um, does a bear shit in the woods?
Check out the fabulous scenery? It would be an absolute crime not to!!
While Queenstown may be famous for things like bungy jumping, skiing, heli-skiing, sky diving, Swing & Zip (I don’t even know what that means), and jet boating, there is so much more to the area that doesn’t require your stomach to lurch into your mouth at the mere thought. Queenstown caters for all types and can most definitely be enjoyed by those of us who like a much more chilled pace/value their life!
Upon arriving in Queenstown my friend Hannah and I discovered that one of the tours we had booked had been cancelled. At a cost of $169 NZD this half day trip to Arrowtown and Wanaka was to be our most expensive, so we were happy with getting a refund and sourcing an alternate for the trip. The local bus company Ritchies offers a much cheaper price of $4 return to Arrowtown and $65 return to Wanaka. We just split up the two towns on different days rather than doing it all in one.
The bus to Arrowtown takes about 30 minutes and leaves every hour from Camp Street in central Queenstown. Arrowtown is a cute little gold mining town which reminded me so much of my childhood school excursions exploring Sovereign Hill in Ballarat. Cute buildings, cute shops, cute cafes, cute scenery. Oh the cuteness!!! We spent a couple of hours wandering around and shopping (sorry credit card) before taking the bus back to Queenstown. Plenty of places to eat and drink if you’re looking to.
Wanaka on the other hand, is a much longer bus trip and can be done two ways, either via Cromwell which is considered the long way and the way we went to Wanaka, or the scenic route through Cardrona’s snowy mountains, which we did on the way back to Queenstown. Although we’d heard that Wanaka was like a smaller version of Queenstown, I am afraid to say that we didn’t do the place much justice. That morning we were both a little tired, and just wanted a hot coffee and to go for a decent walk around Lake Wanaka. And yes, to see that famous Wanaka Tree.
Where tours are concerned another money saving idea is to use the website Bookme. For instance, instead of paying between $130 – $600 on a full day Milford Sound tour (bus – cruise – bus or flights) we booked through bookme.nz a week before we left and managed to get our ticket for $110 per person. We could have got it cheaper by booking a day or two out from when we wanted to go, but this was a tour we were both very keen to do so didn’t want to risk not getting a spot.
And speaking of Milford Sound, let me tell you this was the highlight of my trip, for so many different reasons but mostly for how the tour ended. The day was so epic that it deserves a post of its own. It includes videos. You can read that here.
Not ever being to the snow let alone a ski field, it would have been remiss of us not to head up to one of Queenstown’s famous ski fields. After all that is entirely what some people go there for. We decided upon Coronet Peak over a The Remarkables being that it was closer to Queenstown and an easier bus ride up. For those who don’t ski, you can get a bus pass for $20 return for a day. Easy enough! We chose a day that was of course raining so conditions on the mountain weren’t so great. We literally bussed it up, stepped out onto the snow and then went and sat at the bar people watching before catching the first bus back into town.
We also took the gondola up the mountain that overlooks Queenstown and The Remarkables mountain range. It’s a steep climb, so I spent a good portion of the ride up with my eyes closed. Although I did open them in time to watch some crazy guy fly down the mountain when we passed the Queenstown bungy jump. No thanks mate, you can have that all to yourself! We were going to hike through the Ben Lomand track but could see storms brewing in the distance and having to get down from the mountain, thought it best to get back earlier than expected.
Everything runs super well and on time in Queenstown, and so it should, being a major tourist town. If tours didn’t run, you were looked after regardless. Kiwi hospitality is certainly something that some more popular tourist destinations should aspire to. While I am not an adrenalin junkie, I still do consider myself adventurous enough, and Queenstown was definitely a place where I found enough crazy to mix with my need of chill. Although I am unlikely to ever strap on a pair of ski boots, I will definitely be going back to Queenstown to do more exploring and sampling the regions finest everything!
Welcome to the post about one of the most thrilling yet shit-my-dacks-scary travel moments of my life. One that I am still raving about now that I am home.
One wouldn’t normally associate fear with the beauty and tranquilness that is Milford Sound, yet here I am.
Milford Sound is a fiord in the Fiordland National Park area of the South Island of New Zealand. It is well known as being one of the most dramatic and scenic parts of New Zealand, where valleys and mountains are massive and the scale of it all is really beyond comprehension. Located 290 kms from Queenstown, Milford Sound can be accessed by car, bus, small plane or Helicopter. The trip is roughly 4 hours each way, but generally longer on the way to Milford Sound as the scenery just compels you to get out and take a good look.
For mine and Hannah’s trip to Milford Sound we used Jucy Cruises via booking on Bookme. The bus picks you up from out the front of the Station building on Camp St at roughly 7.15am and from there is a few hours of watching the sun rise (or sleeping) on the way to Te Anau where we were able to stop for a hot coffee and something to eat. Back on the bus, it is another few hours before arriving in Milford Sound, but those couple of hours are perhaps the most scenic and includes many stops for photos and to stretch your legs. For those of you with a keen interest in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, you are practically in middle earth here so soak it all in. This is where I got to step my feet out on snow for the first time in my life! Whoo!!
Our bus driver was a real hoot, dropping dad jokes left, right and centre. Some of it was a bit cringe worthy, but mostly hilarious. Regardless of the quality of his jokes Hannah and I quickly came to really respect his accommodating attitude towards keeping his guests happy. On the bus ride to Milford Sound he let us know that after our ferry ride on the sound, the bus ride back to Queenstown would take three hours, BUT there were other options. We could take a small plane that would get us back to Queenstown in 30 minutes, or if there were enough people interested (we needed 4) a helicopter ride that would take 40 minutes and we may be able to land on a glacier, weather permitting. For us, it was a no brainer! Stuff the expense of it, we’d be mad to pass up this once in a lifetime experience! So, with that seed firmly planted in our heads we left it up to the bus driver to get us on that chopper while we jumped on the ferry for the 90 minute cruise of the majestic Milford Sound.
Heading up to the top of the ferry, Hannah and I were able to take a good position up the front of the boat so that we could really take in the view. And what a view it is! The ferry takes you along the right hand side of the Sound, passing numerous waterfalls and out to the Tasman sea before turning back into the Sound on the other side, again passing the many waterfalls and numerous sun baking seals. Although you’re on a boat with at least 80 other people you can’t help but feel the quiet peace and tranquillity of the place. For some part of the ferry ride, I felt complete stillness as I sat in awe of just how mighty Milford Sound is.
Back on land Hannah and I sprinted back to the bus to see if we were able to get on the helicopter and upon seeing the massive grin on our bus drivers face we knew we’d made it! Then my heart began to race. What the fuck had I just committed to? It is hard to describe in words how I felt sitting on the back seat against the door of the helicopter as it took off, so I’ll just say it was a weird mixture of pure fear and absolute elation. Was I that nervous or that excited I could have vomited? I don’t know. Once we were in the air and cruising over Milford Sound I started to calm down a little and really started to enjoy the experience, every moment was just so surreal to me.
That was until the pilot attempted to land on one glacier area and a gust of wind came in so strong that the helicopter jolted out of the blue. Several times! At this point, you can only imagine how I was feeling! Yep, about ready to vomit. There is actually a video of this happening and all you can hear is my very nervous laughter. Now that I am home I can laugh about all of this thankfully. I guess the pilot sensed my fear as he turned to me and said “please just trust me, I’ve been doing this for a long time, BUT if you do see me open my door and jump then you’re in trouble”. Ah yep, totally trust you mate, I actually did though, he was a lovely man.
Attempt number two to land on the glacier was a complete success huzzah!! But, being totally inexperienced and unequipped for the moment when I stepped from the helicopter and onto the glacier, I managed to sink into the ice, shoes and socks wet. Yay me! Once I got myself sorted and the rest of the passengers got out of the helicopter it was time to have a walk on the glacier. Um, I think I managed about 4 steps before realising that it was much safer for me to stand still and hold onto the helicopter, the ice was incredibly slippery and my shoes were useless for moving about as I had no spikes to grip into the ice.
We stayed on the glacier for about ten glorious minutes, snapping photos and taking it all in. All the while the blistering cold wind freezing our fingers and toes to the point that I don’t think I had ever been that cold before in my life! But when you’ve just stepped off a helicopter and are standing on top of a glacier in New Zealand and the scenery is beyond this world spectacular, who cares about the cold right? After squeezing back onto the helicopter it was a peacefully glorious ride onto our final destination of Glenorchy (about 30 minute drive from Queenstown).
I’d like to give a big shout out to Heli Glenorchy. At no point in the helicopter ride did I feel unsafe, there may have been a bit of my own fear, but I felt nothing but utmost trust in the pilot. Giving us lots of interesting information of the area throughout the flight the pilot also made sure to check in with all of us to ensure that we were ok. Back on ground we were driven the 30 minutes from Glenorchy to Queenstown by another of their pilots. He was highly entertaining and endearing with his stories and interaction with us. Rather than dropping us off back at our hotel, he happily obliged us by dropping us off at the Fergbakery, such is the accommodating nature of Heli Glenorchy and Kiwi’s in general.
Standing on top of that glacier was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life, and certainly one that I will never forget. Once I’d overcome my fear the helicopter ride was absolutely exhilarating, one of those moments where you pinch yourself because none of it seems real. From the air, the views are nothing like what you see on land, it is such a different perspective. I remember getting off the helicopter in Glenorchy with a grin on my face so wide that I couldn’t help but laugh and laugh at what I’d just done. I was so happy to have had that experience that I wanted to get up in a helicopter again, and again. Yay, a new expensive love for me.
I would highly recommend that if you do the Milford Sound bus – cruise then consider either a small plane, or even better helicopter ride back. While it is expensive, it simply is money well spent. I’d definitely do it again.
We booked Jucy Cruises via the Bookme website for a much cheaper rate. Depending on your budget Bookme offers all different experiences for your Milford Sound trip.
Let me start of by saying one the one word that you will need to know for your trip to Queenstown is: ‘Fergburger’.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, please read on.
My most recent holiday, a week in Queenstown, New Zealand with a good friend of mine, Hannah was always going to be a sensory overload to the tastebuds. Such is the reputation of the area’s local produce, wine and beer we were expecting utter greatness, and boy did Queenstown deliver the goods to two food and wine loving gals from Melbourne.
So, let me start with Fergburger. There is so much hype that surrounds the place, that when researching things to do, see, eat in Queenstown the first words uttered from every single one of my friends in Melbourne were “you MUST try Fergburger”. Every-single-friend. With a reputation like that how could you not give it a go, and a go we certainly gave it. Because Fergburger was so amazingly mouth watering good I have written a review which you can read here
Most of our days started at the equally famous to Fergburger, the Fergbakery, where we’d fill up on strong coffees and breakfast as well as snacks for the day if we were out touring. In all honestly, the best croissants I’ve had outside of France, coffee was strong and so good (and being from Melbourne we know good coffee), their famous Boston cream donuts a sugary delight, and the pies! I thought Australia did pies well, but nothing comes close to how just how tasty New Zealand pies are. Skip the tomato sauce my friends, it is simply not needed. Fergbakery is certainly a winner, closing only for a few hours to re-bake and clean, it is a Queenstown institution and one that should be on your list.
Being lovers of good food and wine and being up for a good old splurge on our stomachs, Hannah and I booked dinner at two fine dining restaurants, Rata and Bunker. Bunker was a small and quiet little restaurant but the food was robust and delightful. Rata on the other hand, larger and slightly louder in atmosphere, had food that was out of this world orgasmic. I can’t ever remember a time where my eyes have rolled back into my head from the sheer delight of such good food before, it was simply that good! You can read the reviews of those two here (warning serious food envy to ensue).
Two other notable mentions:
The Pub – have $20 main meals that are both delicious and filling. I ate the pork belly and it was twice the size of what we get in Australia. Crisp crackle, not too salty and meat very tender
Eric’s Fish n Chips – located in a little caravan across from the Novotel. For a fresh light meal, this was a great option.
There was only one place that we’d not waste time and money on again and that’s Cow pizza restaurant. Unlike Australia, Italian migration must have skipped New Zealand in the 1950s because the pizza was one of the worst I’ve tasted and the price exorbitant. The base was just wrong, too much cheese (and for a cheese lover that’s saying a lot) and who the hell ruins pizza by putting fresh tomato on it? One word, soggy. Hannah and I felt we were cheated out of a good Queenstown meal considering everything else we ate was top notch.
And now to the alcohol. The wine, especially the pinot noir is outstanding, and I will definitely go back to explore more of the Central Otago wine region for the wine alone. I’m imagining a beautiful warm autumn day tripping from one winery to the next, sampling the best of the regions wines and eating all the good cheeses. Hmmm yum!! The bars and pubs are very welcoming too. The service is great, they’re warm and most importantly showcase local beers which I was more than happy to sample a fair bit of. We particularly liked and frequently visited World Bar and Ballarat Trading Co. A word of caution for anyone who looks young enough to be underage, take your passport out with you on nights of drinking. Hannah at age 29 was refused service, a driver’s licence is not accepted, and I couldn’t buy drinks for her.
One of my most favoured parts of the trip to Queenstown was heading out to the Gibbston Valley winery and cheese shop. After taking the shuttle bus at 10am from Camp Street in central Queenstown in 20 minutes we were eating the most generous and tasty cheese platter paired with a delightful glass of Pinot Noir, and for breakfast no less. As you do when you’re on holidays! Honestly you can’t beat $40 NZD for all of what we ate. After gorging ourselves with cheese it was off to the winery for sampling… wine of course! What I liked about the wine tasting was that you could choose from only whites, reds or sparkling, or mixed tastings. All in front of an open wood fire. How cosy right? We both tried the Pinot Noir tasting, pared with a much smaller cheese platter. We did contemplate going the one we had for breakfast but thought that would be too gluttonous. I also had to sample the sparkling wines. I mean, I’d be a fool not to.
You can check out the Gibbston Valley Winery and Cheese shop website here
What pleasantly surprised me about Queenstown and I guess this goes for the whole of New Zealand, is just how well they do food and wine. I mean I knew it was going to be good but, was the reputation really to be believed? Aside from one shitty meal, everything else was amazingly beautiful. Fresh produce, tasty and felt healthy even if it probably wasn’t. On account of the food and wine alone, I will definitely head back to Queenstown for more gourmet experiences.