Regarded as the ”Adventure Capital of the World”, shadowed by The Remarkables mountain range, capped with the ‘Basket Of Dreams’ … Welcome to Queenstown!
- // October 2015 //
Fly in over a rainbow. Make sure you book a window seat for your journey into Queenstown. Voted the worlds ”Best runway view” in 2015, you almost don’t believe what you are seeing as you swoop in over The Southern Alps and Lake Wakatipu.
2. Get on your feet. You can walk the whole of Queenstown within a day. It’s a small, neat place. Dotted with touristy shops, a plethora of restaurants and enough bars to hop between every night of the week.
3. Keep it clean. The ‘Welcome to Queenstown’ sign lets you know it is ”too lovely to litter”. The town itself, the venues, the lake, the air – everything is fresh! It is a majestic place and those who live there like to keep it that way for good reason.
4. Don’t go anywhere without a camera. From intense rainbows over Lake Wakatipu to purple morning skies to pink sunsets – keep your wits about you for some of the best photo opportunities you may ever have.
5. Get lost in The Vortex. Queenstown is dubbed ”Partytown”, a reputation that it lives up to every day! Every night brings a different option with new people looking for all kinds of fun. Staying out ’til sunrise is a common event – with many travellers working in hospitality you’re always going to have friends game for whatever you’re thinking of doing.
6. Remind yourself you’re alive! Walk, run, hike, hire a bike and see where you end up. Backpacking? Chances are you are partying, a lot! … Try not to let your nights overtake making the most of the natural beauty that you are surrounded by.
7. Freak out. Spend $30 on a visit to the Fear Factory. Horror mixed with hilarious, it’s a cheap, fun must-do before you leave town.
8. Splash the cash; bank the memories. You can’t go to Queenstown and not take part in an extreme sport of some kind. If you don’t do at least one thing that pushes you you’ve missed out big time! Being the Adventure Capital of The World, reaching your limits is what Queenstown is all about! Bungy jump, sky dive, jet boat, heli-ski, the list goes on. There is something for every degree of bravery, take your pick and get your wallet out!
9. Eat there / Drink here. Fergburger is an essential pit stop, book over the phone to avoid the queues. Devil Burger needs to be visited on your way home from tip no.5. Check out the roof top of Surreal. Make the most of happy hour at Searle Lane. Treat yo’self to a special breakfast at Vudu. Grab a $20 steak at Pub On Wharf. You’ll most definitely fall into the trap of finding your ‘locals’ and spending most of your time in the same places.
10. Chill out. Sit by the lake and take in where you are. Some days are meant to be done the lazy way.
11. Become a local. Expect reduced taxi fares, cheaper food and drinks offers on your nights out. Queenstown looks after Queenstown! It makes for a cheaper way of living once you’re settled as a ”local” and know where to get the best bang for your buck.
12. Invest in some wheels. If you’re planning on staying in town for longer than just a flying visit its worth investing in a car of some sort. Many offer their cars cheap as they are leaving and need a quick sale. Take a walk down Sydney Street for a selection of old bangers that’ll do the job to take you on your adventures.
13. Try something new. If you want a regular job that keeps you going to afford fun and maybe a ski season pass, you might end up doing something different. Used to working office jobs back home? Try your hand at hospitality – it will be guaranteed fun and good experience for a season or two.
14. Be the early bird. Peak season happens twice a year; once during the depths of winter for the famous ski season and the other at the height of New Zealand summer (when everyone leaves European winter behind). If you plan to stay put during those periods try to arrive early to get a job and a place sorted before town becomes overrun with backpackers hoping to secure the same as you.
15. Don’t be afraid to ask. Many people know each other in Queenstown. You might arrive with no contacts whatsoever or maybe just know a handful of people – don’t be afraid to ask them if you need advice with job hunting or accommodation. Most will be more than williing to help you start out.
16. Get online. Sign up to the ”Queenstown Trading” facebook group to keep in the loop of local offers, events, job postings, house shares and more.
17. Take a step back. Wherever you look, whatever part of town you are standing in you are faced with an amazing view. Surrounded by mountains that somehow never get old, appreciate the fact that you are ”living in a postcard”.
18. Hit the road. While it is very easy to ‘lose’ 6 months/ a year of your life in The Vortex make sure you don’t waste it all having too much fun by night! There is so much to see with many amazing New Zealand destinations easily accessible by car from Queenstown.
19. Wages are extremely low compared to the price of living. I was on $19p/h and this was a really good rate for a traveller. If you arrive from Australia you are in for a bit of a shock (expect at least 1/3 less than your Aus wage!). Most casual jobs offer around $15p/h. Depending on how much you pay for where you stay you are most likely going to find it hard to save much/ anything while in Queenstown. Many arrive from Aus with money burning a hole in their pockets and leave with nothing. But as with all things in life you just make it work – if you really want to save you will find a way!
20. Accommodation is hard to find. If you know anyone in town ahead of you see if they can help. Once you start meeting new people and making friends everything becomes much easier but be prepared to stay in hostels while you wait for a place to come up. Then once you find a house, jackpot! Sorted. I paid $200p/w for my own room, some of my friends only pay $75 to share. Look around and see what suits your budget and the kind of place you would be happy to live in.
I spent five hectic months in Queenstown. After planning to do a whole year I ended up leaving early. I needed some proper home time after 21 months on the road. I’ll always appreciate Queenstown as a magical place … a place filled with incomparable beauty, crazy memories and people I will never forget.
“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people”