As the golden rays of a crisp dawn falls on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, it truly captures the essence of mind, body and soul making it the start of a great Queenstown escape, writes Harmeet Sehgal
45.030 S, 168.60 E are coordinates to a location that’s famed as one of the most visited luxury hilltop resort towns in the world. Queenstown needs little introduction. To Kiwis it’s our pride and to international travellers it’s a must visit destination – at least once in a lifetime. There is no one season that shows Queenstown in its true colours – it’s a destination for all seasons. Famed is one of the most desirable locations to take a short break and get away from it all, I decided to do exactly that.
I flew Jetstar to Queenstown from Auckland. One of the most awarded airline in the world, Jetstar offers regular direct service to Queenstown from major cities in New Zealand and with Qantas from Australia. Flying on a Jetstar A320 is always a pleasant experience with the service being on-time with fresh aircraft interiors and pleasant service. With fares starting as low as $59.00 one way, it’s never been a better time to book a flight on Jetstar to see more of New Zealand. Book your next trip to Queenstown with Jetstar
I zipped my way around Queenstown with a superb rental vehicle from AVIS Car Rental. Offering excellent coverage across New Zealand, drive away with an Avis vehicle. Avis offers great deals across its rental vehicle range which delivers maximum peace of mind on your journey.
I drove around in an Avis Toyota Fortuner, a spacious 5 seater SUV perfect for the terrain that I was driving in. It was clean and wonderfully trimmed with sharply appointed interiors. Offering deals like an early bird 6th day free with a complimentary upgrade, you can get a true bang for your buck when booking early with Avis. For full details on renting an Avis rental vehicle, head to the Avis booking site.
When in Queenstown, stay at The Rees Hotel. A luxury 5 star property, The Rees Hotel offers finest hospitality that Queenstown has to offer. Created nearly 150 years ago by Queenstown’s pioneering explorer, William G. Rees, The Rees Hotel is located in most of the most iconic spots right on the shores of Lake Wakatipu with sweeping panoramic views across the lake and the alpine range. Offering a variety of spacious and luxury accommodation with 60 hotel rooms, 90 apartments and 5 uber-luxury self-contained lakeside residences.
Lakeside Residences are a top choice for extended families / friends who’d like the option to stay and enjoy the resort town together. The five, two storey residences have three generously appointed bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms. All residences offer 180 degree views of the lake and the Remarkable ranges.
Offering self-cooking / dining facilities, spa, and outdoor areas the residences offer total privacy while being fully integrated with the hotel services offer the flexibility to entertain guests with a range of dining options from the hotels award winning restaurant.
I chose to reside at the Executive Lakeview One Bedroom Apartment at the hotel. The one bedroom apartments offer a large living area opening onto a balcony with great views across the lake and the mountains. The living area also featured a dining table and a fully stocked kitchen to impress guests with your cooking skills if you may. The fireplace brings another dimension to the ambience combined with brilliant orange and red sunsets.
The apartments are 70sqm featuring a king-sized bed. The soft furnishings are luxurious to the last note with crisp cotton sheets, luxurious duvets and feather down pillows that put you at ease for a great night’s rest. Equally well appointed is the Italian designed bathroom with a walk-in shower fully stocked with luxury bath products, bath robes and luxury towels.
Now, that’s great hardware for any hotel but for me what makes a difference and a reason to come back is the personal touch and the personality that the hotels’ staff bring in welcoming guests. Service at The Rees Hotel is exemplary. After a long flight as we pulled up to the porch, we were welcomed by great courtesy and a warm smile at the check-in desk. As we soaked in the magnificent views, the hotels areas were explained to us and we were shown to our apartment with a thorough explanation of the in-room facilities.
Our luggage was promptly delivered and we were invited for a welcome drink at the Bordeaux Wine Lounge that houses a private cellar of one of the most comprehensive collection of fine wines. It was bliss to enjoy the cozy ambience of the lounge and savour one of New Zealand’s top Pinot Noir that comes from the Central Otago region, following which we proceeded for dinner to the hotel’s award winning restaurant, True South.
True South Dining Room at The Rees offers culinary excellence matched with sharp, attentive service. The kitchen brigade is led by Executive Chef, Corey Hume, who is one of the most talented chefs in New Zealand and a culinary Olympian. On the menu, Corey focusses on famous seasonal Queenstown produce and suppliers as local South Island produce tastes different compared to the mass-produced commercial varieties. He uses truffles from certain trufferies in the South Island, Bluff oysters when in season, Fiordland live lobsters and wonderful cheesemakers to select the cheese from. One new ground-breaking ingredient that Corey uses in his desserts is Pamu deer milk from Gore, in the South Island which is a world first product.
From the seasonal menu I had the Yellow Fin Tuna carpaccio which was a fresh delight to the palette and whit my appetite for the hearty Wakanui Beef Sirloin which was a perfectly cooked and rested with oyster mushrooms. Breakfast is also served daily at the restaurant where guests can enjoy a delightful spread of breakfast items freshly cooked to order.
The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle service into Queenstown and a ferry service from the hotel’s wharf including a water taxi service into town. The Rees Hotel is one of the most awarded hotels in New Zealand including the very coveted Wine Spectator ‘Best Award for Excellence’ for their wine program. Book your luxury stay at The Rees Hotel and experience the difference.
Drive to Glenorchy:
The drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy is one of the most scenic drives in the world, if not the most. The drive starts from Queenstown and works through besides Lake Wakatipu, an 84km long glacial lake consisting of three straight sections. The journey from Queenstown to Glenorchy traverses two of them, and for the most part clings to the sides of the mountains which plunge steeply into the deep waters.
The scenery is spectacular right from the start and as you head up the Glenorchy stretch of the lake, it feels like serenity and nature in its most pristine form. The road has plenty of bends and is a combination of enjoyable driving experience and grand scenery that makes this road memorable for me. The views, the mountains and the lakes pose different scenes as you move along the road much to a photographer’s delight. A place to pull over mid-journey, just past the corner where the road turns towards Glenorchy, provides a great spot to stop and take photos. The whole drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy is an easy 45km.This drive is fitting any time of year but during winter months the snow on the mountains make it more special. There are multiple stops along the way to pose for that much awaited Instagram shot and the small rural town of Glenorchy has its own sweet charm to present.