What to do in Queenstown, New Zealand's culinary hotspot

The South Island city offers no shortage of hair-raising adventures — but it’s also home to a compellingly diverse dining scene and thumping nightlife.

Alfresco dining at Bespoke Kitchen, nestled in the hills just outside Queenstown’s main bustle.

Photograph by Jay French
By Justin Meneguzzi
Published 17 Jan 2023, 08:00 GMT

7am: Breakfast at Bespoke Kitchen
There’s a big day of thrills and spills ahead, so it’s important to fuel up. Nestled in the hills just outside Queenstown’s main bustle, Bespoke Kitchen serves up local favourites like gingerbread porridge and vegan pancakes using organic produce. If you’re a light eater, stop in at nearby Fergbaker for a coffee and pastry instead. The queues are worth the wait.

8.30am: Jet into the wilderness
Brace yourself for an exhilarating jet-boat ride along the glacier-fed Dart River in Mount Aspiring National Park, which bristles with mountain peaks and pine forests. Māori-owned Dart River Adventures has unrivalled access to the park and mingles cultural storytelling with sightseeing along the river, where sacred green pounamu (jade) can be found. 

11am: Browse the town’s galleries
Explore Queenstown’s art scene around Earl Street, including the eclectic mix of sculptures and paintings from local artists at Artbay Gallery, and the stunning landscape photography at the Romer and Cory Marshall galleries. Return at night for Lightworx’s eye-catching illuminated art installations.   

12pm: Lunch at The Beech Tree
Queenstown’s craft beer scene has exploded over the past decade thanks to a new wave of breweries and bars slinging local beers. The Beech Tree is all about brews and board games, with 23 taps of rotating beers backed by a robust menu of burgers and fried, salty and pickled snacks. 

The glacier-fed Dart River in Mount Aspiring National Park.

The glacier-fed Dart River in Mount Aspiring National Park.

Photograph by Chris McLennan

2pm: Bungy jump over the city
Ride the Skyline Gondola to the top station and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Queenstown. If you can stomach it, spread your wings and leap out over the town via the freestyle Ledge Bungy that plunges 150ft into the valley. For weightlessness minus the screaming, try the iFLY indoor sky-dive experience nearby.

4pm: Wander the wharf
Back on terra firma, soak up views of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range along Queenstown Wharf Walk. Watch street buskers play, stop by at Patagonia for artisanal ice cream and chocolates, or toast the sunset from the water at Perky’s Floating Bar.

7pm: Dinner at Tanoshi 
Take a detour through the city’s lively Laneways to Tanoshi, a cosy Japanese diner that entices with its mix of ramen, don buri and teppan dishes. Ask the staff to pair your food with sake from the extensive list. 

10pm: Pizza party at Winnies
Don’t let the wholesome family pizza facade fool you. Only after dark does Winnies really let its hair down. Staying true to Queenstown’s strong après ski tradition, there’s dancing on tables and partying long into the night at this revered institution. 

Published in the Jan/Feb 2023 issue of  National Geographic Traveller (UK) 

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