Updated: Oct 17, 2019
These are 5 things you can do in Queenstown, New Zealand...even in one day.
This pond on Ben Lomond Lavender Farm has a very relaxing charm to it. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
1. Visit Ben Lomond Lavender Farm
I thought that we should start this list off right by invigorating your sense of smell. The high elevation, dry summers and cold winters of Queenstown provide the perfect environment for the growth of lavender. Ben Lomond Lavender Farm was quite a find, plus it's FREE to visit. The only downer was that the lavenders haven't bloomed yet.
When you approach the farm using the gravel road, you immediately notice the natural beauty and up-keep of the property. After I parked, I was greeted warmly by a man named Clive, who is actually the owner. My visit included lot's of photo ops, which when you visit his well-manicured property you can see why it's hard not to take a many photos
He also has a small gift shop where he sells lavender based oils, eye-masks, body cream and other products for a very fair price. Unfortunately for me, his power was out that day so cash was the only form of payment accepted. Double jeopardy was that I only had Australian dollars, but he was awesome enough to accept that form of payment!
Ben Lomond's Lavender Farm gift shop. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
2. Ride a gondola at Skyline and eat at Stratosfare Restaurant
Starting off with riding a gondola at Skyline, you can either purchase tickets ahead of time here or you can purchase after arriving. I suggest that you purchase tickets ahead of time so you can avoid the tour buses full of people. You'll also notice that you can purchase tickets in combination with eating at the Skyline Restaurant (Stratosfare Restaurant), which is an all-you-can-eat buffet. I purchased the Gondola & Lunch combo for $65 NZD. Don't forget to make reservations at Stratosfare Restaurant because they quickly fill up fast!
Check out the 20 second video of the Skyline gondolas. (Video by Digital Nomad Foodie)
The gondola line moves fast. You'll have your picture taken by staff and to purchase later (if you choose). Once you hop onto your gondola, enjoy the ride and make sure to take lot's of pictures. It will take about 10 to 15 minutes to get up the mountain. After hopping off, you can take your time by exploring the gift shop, use the bathroom or by grabbing a cold pint of Crushed Apple Cider by Monteith's Brewing Company at the restaurant bar.
Grab a pint or two at the bar. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
It doesn't take very long to be seated after checking in to Stratosfare Restaurant, especially with a reservation. You'll notice the nicely decorated and spacious dining area. The service is very good here. The food choices cover a wide-variety of New Zealand and Asian cuisine. You can tell that the quality is very high. My favorites were the New Zealand mussels and the thick slices of pork belly.
New Zealand mussels taste so GOOD. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
3. Go Paragliding with G Force
After a nice meal you can either take the gondola back down or be adventurous and jump off the mountain by paragliding with G Force Paragliding. I would advise that you make a reservation by visiting their website. Since the decision to paraglide was made spur-of-the-moment, I got lucky by walking up to the G Force Paragliding booth and asking them when then the next available time was. "10 minutes" was the answer, then after paying I quickly met with my pilot named Gavin.
The summit where you and your G Force pilot take off! (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
There was some construction happening so we had to hike up to the launch area. You will burn off some of those calories you just ate, but it's a nice walk up breathing in the fresh mountain air. Once you get to the summit you will put on your gear and have plenty chances to take photos while the pilot preps the parachute. Once the wind conditions are right, it's time for action!
Can't beat the view of Queenstown from this vantage point. (Video by Digital Nomad Foodie)
Once you are in the air you will enjoy a 360 degree view of Queenstown. I spent about 20 minutes floating around. Gavin was able to multitask and provided video recording and photos using a GoPro camera to capture the moment. You do have the option to purchase the video/photo content for $50 NZD after you land. Speaking of landing, after accepting the offer by Gavin if I wanted a more exciting decent, then spiraling down, we eventually landed on a designed field - on our feet!
4. Go wine tasting
New Zealand is known for it's wine and Queenstown is home to their fabulous Pinot Noir. Since this blog covers, Queenstown in limited fashion, I only had time to check out one winery after paragliding. There are a number of wineries in the area. I ended up checking out Gibbston Valley Wine.
Enjoy a few wine flights at Gibbston Valley Wine. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
Gibbston Valley Wine is located right off State Highway 6, next to a golden hillside (which reminded me of being back home in California). They have a large tasting room and plenty of wines to taste (they are open daily from 10am to 5pm). After tasting I walked around and discovered some of their organic vineyards, a mountain bike rental shop (to ride on their trails), a wine cave (they offer tours), a small gift shop and a Gibbston Valley Cheese, which offers a variety of New Zealand cheeses made of sheep, cow and goat milk.
Certified organic vineyard. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
Many of the wineries are located fairly close to one another. The ones I noticed when driving into town on State Highway 6 were a few kilometers north. Hopefully you have time to check out more wineries than I did.
5. Buy Manuka honey
I never heard of Manuka honey until I started to see it sold just about everywhere. According to WebMD, "Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native manuka bush". It's said to have many medicinal benefits, but I personally enjoy my wine with cheese and honey.
Choices. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
Gibbston Valley Cheese had a nice selection of this sweet, sticky treat. I couldn't resist and purchased some honeycomb. You can also find it at New World grocery store. Regardless of where it's sold, make sure you buy some to take back home with you!
Wine + cheese + honeycomb = bliss. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
So as you can see you can really do a lot in just one day in Queenstown, New Zealand. Hopefully you can spend more time there and take advantage of the many trails, hang out in town and just relax.