Fergburger, Queenstown: How a burger joint became the town's most famous place to eat

You realise that this is not your regular burger bar when you see the queue clogging the pavement along Queenstown's Shotover Street. In the 20 years since it began, Fergburger has become an institution, and for very good reason. Its wide range of burgers, from 3/4lb (340 gram) meat patties to tofu, are freshly prepared every day, well cooked, carefully assembled, and delicious.

Ferg's make everything themselves, from buns to sauces, and it shows. Their fame has spread worldwide, and time spent waiting in the queue has become an essential Queenstown experience. The locally-owned business has expanded into three neighbouring establishments: an ice cream and gelato shop called Mrs Ferg, Fergbaker and, most recently, the well-stocked and cosy Ferg's Bar.

For most, though, it's the burgers that they come for (though the real chance of spotting celebrities is an extra bonus).

Why go?

Because, every so often, it's good for your cynicism to take a hit. The hype about Fergburger has been so loud, for so long, that it's hard to believe it can live up to the reputation. But it does. The staff are cheerful, friendly and efficient, the overall vibe is good, and the burgers are truly juicy, tasty and delicious.

The only hard part is choosing which one to order from the long and amusing menu (The Codfather? Little Lamby? Chief Wiggum?) but whichever you get, satisfaction is guaranteed. The café is also licensed, so you can have a beer or wine as well; or even, in winter, a hot mulled wine.

Insider tip

If you're really hungry and can't wait but just have to have a hamburger, then take a tip from the locals and head over to Church Street to eat at Devil Burger instead, which some reckon is just as good. But if you're more open to other menu options, then pop next door to Fergbaker, where you're spoiled for choice for yummy things (though their steak, mushroom and blue cheese pie is simply unmissable).

On the way/nearby

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You won't want anything else to eat for a while, so maybe take a stroll along the waterfront and enjoy the vibe there. Or head to the haunted Fear Factory for some thrills and laughs. There's even more excitement on offer at iFly Indoor Skydiving, where you lie on top of a blast of air and make like a bird.

If you didn't get cold enough in the Ferg queue, you could pop into the Minus 5° Ice Bar, where it might actually be -10 degrees, to admire the ice sculptures while you sip your drink from an ice glass (gloves and jackets supplied).

How much?

Prices range over 19 varieties of burger from $NZ11.90 ($A11.44) for the Morning Glory up to $NZ18.90 for the two-pattie, two-egg Big Al and $NZ19.90 for the ribeye steak Bullseye. The classic Ferg Deluxe is $NZ15.90.

Best time to go

For shorter, or even – it does happen – no queues, visit outside of standard meal times (which includes post-pub). See fergburger.com

Quarantine-free travel from Australia to New Zealand remains suspended, but this is expected to change in coming months. See smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/pacific/new-zealand 

See also: From Funyaks to 'orc chasms': Queenstown's 10 hidden gems

See also: The Kiwi wine region that wiped the floor with France's best

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