Exploring Central Otago: Day Three
Mofos, we’re on the final leg of our 3-day Lonely Planet Wine Trails Australia & New Zealand adventure and we’ve saved some space in our bellies for wine, food and more wine. From red velvet pancakes at Queenstown’s best breakfast place (in our humble opinion), to a mind-blowing five course degustation at Amisfield and handmade ice-cream at sunset - let’s tuck into Day 3…
09:00 - Breakfast at Bespoke
If the crowds on the weekend are anything to go by, this might just be Queenstown’s best breakfast. It’s popular and it’s easy to see why. Inside is an array of seating options – for solo travellers sitting at the window to long tables for families catching up. If it’s sunny, head outside. The courtyard features a fireplace and the terrace around the corner on Isle street has great views. Food is fresh, vibrant, healthy and creative. I had the oat, spelt and carrot porridge with a vegan lemon coconut whip, sunflower and walnut crumb, coconut sugar, grilled pineapple and a side of bee pollen. So hipster it hurts. The red velvet pancakes looked pretty good too if you’re needing to soak up that one more last drink you had last night.
12:00 – Lunch at Amisfield
You’re going to need some time here, more than anticipated. There’s a three and five course ‘Trust the Chef’ menu and my approach to these things is, commit. Go all-in. Executive Chef Vaughan Mabee has worked at Michelin starred restaurants around the world, including Noma in Copenhagen. Trust him. The food is creative, inventive and showcases the impeccable quality of local produce. The degustation can be paired with wines but they’re predominantly whites including two sauvignon blancs (one a fumé). If savvy isn’t your thing, you can always stick to pinot and order off the list.
16:00 – Wine at The Winery
Because you can’t taste enough wine. And just in case you missed something you were keen to try – you’ll find it here. They feature over 80 New Zealand wines available in various measures from a taste to a glass or bottle. The staff know what they’re talking about and the cheese platters are generous.
18:00 – Ice cream at Patagonia
If you’re going for a sunset stroll by the lake you need ice cream. Patagonia do it well and their flagship store is conveniently located down by the lake. It’s not open as late as it should be so get in early, ice cream is a good idea at anytime of the day.
20:00 – Dinner at Kappa
Kappa is a cute little restaurant serving quality Japanese food in the centre of town. Head upstairs and tuck yourself into the corner of the enclosed balcony overhanging the mall. Grilled eggplant with miso is a highlight, sashimi is fresh and classics like Teriyaki Chicken are solid.
If you’re feeling hungry and want to push the boat out a little, White + Wongs is excellent and a whole lot of fun. The banquet option is ideal for groups and if you’re ordering off the menu, the Peking Duck pancakes are a must and the Thai Beef Salad is a fresh flavour bomb.
22:00 – One more at Bardeaux
If you feel like a nightcap (we salute you), Bardeaux has more comfy leather lounges to sink into, and plenty of whisky to sink into too. If you time it right you’ll score a spot on the lounge in front of the fire. Cocktails and whisky are their jam and there’s a decent wine list. It’s dark, slinky, and the soundtrack is stacked with old soul and jazz classics. Good luck trying to leave.
And for your next trip...
Visit Milford Sound - this is a must. There are a few options for getting there. I hired a car and drove – the trip itself was worth the cost of fuel (currently $2.50/L). The piercing landscape either side of the road heading out of Queenstown along lake Wakatipu is breathtaking as it opens out into iridescent green fields full of spring lambs bouncing around.
It’s cheaper to get a coach and do a coach / cruise combo, or you can fly in and out. Either way you’ll end up on one of the cruise boats out on the water. The sheer scale of the mountains piercing the sky and plunging into the sea is hard to put into words. Just go. And put your raincoat on and get under the waterfall when the boat heads over to it, it’s such an invigorating experience.
The Remarkables, Coronet Peak and Cardrona are all easily accessible from Queenstown whether you drive or take a shuttle from town. If you don’t have your own gear you can hire it from a range of outfitters in Queenstown, or on the mountain.
With so many steep slopes around, it’s easy to see why this region is a mountain biker’s paradise. There are trails easily accessible from town and plenty of tour operators who’ll take you to some of the more extreme tracks and guide you down.
Where there’s a mountain there’s someone ready to jump off it. Everywhere you look the sky is dotted with parasailers, paragliders and skydivers making the most of the views while getting an adrenaline fix. Again, check with tour providers in town to book your adventure.
Just when you thought the region couldn’t get any more breathtaking. This is where locals have been going to holiday for generations, so you know it’s going to be beautiful. It’s an hour drive from Queenstown, so a perfect day trip if you include a stop in at Arrowtown for breakfast. You must also visit perhaps the most spectacular winery of the region – Rippon. They’re pioneers of the wine industry here and the views from their cellar door are as glorious as their wines.