Creamy Bluff oysters are a Kiwi delicacy available in Queenstown between March and August. But the pricey molluscs also pose a shoplifting problem for the town's supermarkets, as backpackers swallow them in the aisles, not willing to pay $25 for a dozen, or even a higher premium in restaurants. Fortunately, Queenstown's other great delicacy is the Fergburger (fergburger.com, from about $10). The Ferg bakery also has good pickings, including venison or pork-belly pies for $6.10. Go to Winnies restaurant and bar (winnies.co.nz) for $15.90 pizzas and $6.50 Monteith's Original tap beer. Play 18 holes of free frisbee golf (queenstowndiscgolf.co.nz) in the town gardens. Visit the free Ivan Clarke Gallery (ivanclarkegallery.com). Bunk down at Nomads (nomadsworld.com, $28), or lakeside Bumbles (bumblesbackpackers.co.nz, $28).
(without the oysters)
EASY DOES IT
Vudu (vudu.co.nz) is one of the town's most hyped cafes, so start with breakfast there of fennel and vodka house-cured salmon with eggs ($18.30) and a latte ($4.20). Take a 90-minute cruise on Lake Wakatipu on the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw (realjourneys.co.nz, $52). The lake - 80 kilometres long - is a scenic wonder. Later, ride the Skyline Gondola to Bob's Peak (skyline.co.nz, $25). Great views of Queenstown from there, but even more fun is the family-friendly luge ride ($34) or zipping through the trees on a flying fox (ziptrek.com, $122). Alternatively, consider either jetboating (shotoverjet.com, $122) or bungy jumping (bungy.co.nz, $170). Hotel St Moritz (stmoritz.co.nz, from $253) is stylish, some rooms with lake views. The hotel's Lombardi restaurant shares those views and is worth seeking out for tapas, wood-fired pizza or its top-end dining (mains $26-$33).
NZ's five-star lodges are world-renowned and among them is Matakauri Lodge (matakauri.co.nz, from $642). The rate includes gourmet dinner, breakfast, drinks and an idyllic lakeside setting several kilometres out of town. Get picked up in the morning for a 35-minute scenic flight to cruise Milford Sound (realjourneys.co.nz, from $403). Return to Queenstown and take a helicopter to a remote mountain-top for a picnic (flynz.co.nz, $675). Back in town, have pre-dinner drinks at Eichardt's Private Hotel (eichardts.com). If not eating at Matakauri, consider Rata, opened by Michelin-starred Josh Emett, who is a MasterChef New Zealand judge. Rata highlights are goat cheese profiteroles ($9.40), Moko smoked eel ($19.70) and pork fillet ($36). Finish at Bardeaux, an elegant bar with leather chairs and fire.
The writer travelled to Queenstown courtesy of Air New Zealand.