new zealand

Oaks Club Resort, Queenstown, New Zealand

I had a strange stay here. There were several really positive experiences and a few negative ones.

We stayed for about a week at Oaks Club in Queenstown.

The hotel offers a shuttle service to the city Centre, however we didn’t make as much use of it as we would have liked to is it came on the hour, didn’t run through the middle of the day and was often fully booked.

We also had a day tour booked (through an external agency) who tried to contact us that there were complications. The resort did not leave any messages on our room phone, no notes under the door- nothing to notify us of this. So, we sat in the foyer for over an hour waiting for the tour pick-up, and the receptionist said nothing to us. A simple conversation would have saved a lot of grief.

Our last concern is that it’s so far removed from the city centre that dinner is an issue for late international arrivals. There was no one to greet us when we checked in, and we had a lot of trouble trying to find dinner after a long day of travel. The partner restaurant, Shores, had closed for the evening and we didn’t have our bearings yet, so we had to figure out how to order a pizza. Thank goodness for delivery!

On a lighter note, the room was spectacular. The views were really special, the living area was spacious and the beds heated. There’s a lovely walk along the lake that takes you to the city and is absolutely worth the stroll. The vista from our balcony was truly breathtaking. Waking up to views of Lake Wakitipu every morning really made up for all our woes. Autumn is the best time to go. Golden leaves pepper the waterline and the Remarkables are lightly dusted with snow.

I don’t think you should be scared by our stories- by no means are our accounts ‘traveler horror stories’. Just a reflection of the undertraining of a transient staff, an issue I hear occurs often in Queenstown.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

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Speights Alehouse, Queenstown, NEW ZEALAND

Speights Alehouse is modern gourmet pub food for the discerning customer. We were drawn in by the lunch specials and the tantalising menu. They offer information about providence, where the lamb came from, how the fish was caught, sustainable farming, gate to plate produce.

And the food tasted good. Really good. Tender, succulent, rich, simple. We ate here several times through our week in Queenstown and discovered that you should come early in the evening as it becomes quite popular later on. It’s a family venue celebrating history all over its walls. (And free wifi-!)

Bangers and mash, catch of the day, roast lamb and potatoes. Treat yourself to a hearty, locally sourced meal.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Queenstown Skyline, New Zealand

Queenstown is stunning, there’s no doubt about that. It’s a beautiful landscape, it’s a sight to behold. Taking the skyline up to the top of Queenstown is worth it for a fun gondola ride and picturesque views.

However, that’s where my admiration ends, unfortunately.

There’s a lot of activities you can pay to do at the top- bungy jumping, luge, giant swing, mountain bike down to the bottom, buffet dining. The café fills the gap, but that’s about it. It feels very commercialised and a bit of a tourist trap, compared with the gondola at Christchurch, which has a 360 degrees panorama of the whole region, information about the local area and cultural history.

I think the spectacular view of Queenstown could be achieved through less expensive means, like trail walking for example. But for those who just want to zip up and appreciate the beauty, it’s there and it’s worthwhile.

Doubtful Sound, New Zealand

We took a Real Journeys tour from Queenstown to Doubtful Sound and found it worthwhile. The coach took us to Lake Manapouri, then we took a boat across the lake to Wilmot Pass, then a bus across the pass to Doubtful Sound, then a cruise out to the Tasman Sea. I think the cruise was outstanding. We had perfect weather (!!!) and saw some dolphins. The crew were informative and interested in the wilderness, and they provided bilingual commentary. The cruise enouraged silence and cut the engines to help us absorb the fiordland, hear the waterfalls and the power of nature. Doubtful Sound is in a huge national park, so don’t expect bells and whistles: remember that you’re there to immerse in nature. Bring your own food. While it feels more secluded than Milford Sound, it’s worth the trip (and the same amount of travel time from Queenstown).

Saigon Kingdom, Queenstown, New Zealand

We stumbled across this place in the hopes of finding an affordable and tasty lunch. A lot of the restaurants down by the water are quite pricey so we were stoked to find this Vietnamese restaurant. It was filled with people, so we knew it would be worth trying. And the food! My lemongrass vermicelli noodles were fresh and flavoursome, with herbs and heat. Mum had lemongrass chicken stir fry on rice and said the meal was to die for. My drip coffee was authentic over condensed milk. I’ll be back for sure.

Christchurch Tramway, NZ

The Christchurch Tramways take you on loops through the city, past all the major tourist sites and relevant points of interest. It’s easy to find and central to where ever you’re staying. The tram drivers are very knowledgeable and offer a commentary of anecdotes and facts about the area as they drive you around. They’re very friendly and willing to take questions as well, which made us feel very welcome. A reasonably priced attraction that helped me get to know Christchurch a little better. Recommend getting a day pass an hopping off and on whenever you feel. 




Disclaimer: This review was also posted on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Christchurch Cathedral, NZ

This is a sad reminder of the Christchurch quakes. I think it’s important to visit as you can see the full extent of the devastating earthquakes. There seems to be a lot of local controversy around whether to demolish it, rebuild it, or permanently relocate the congregation to the Cardboard Cathedral. Regardless, visiting this monument is a humbling experience, seeing it all gated up, half exposed to the weather and reclaimed by nature. Christchurch Cathedral is also surrounded by community-builtding initiatives like giant chess boards, art installations and gourmet food vans, so it’s worth the visit anyway. 


Disclaimer: This review was also posted on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.