Where to stay in: Queenstown
Matakauri Lodge Queenstown
Cocooned in luxury, looking out across Lake Wakatipu to the bare rocky mountains beyond Walter Peak Station, its homestead the only building visible in that huge and dramatic landscape, you have a choice. In fact, many choices, once you’ve made the first one, to leave all the gorgeous luxury of your surroundings and venture out to nearby Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital. Should you throw yourself off a bridge or a cliff? Whizz all the way down Bob’s Peak on a zipline, or do it on a tandem paraglider instead? Bounce along the Shotover’s turbulent water in an inflatable raft or shoot through in a jet boat? Erupt from the lake in a mechanical shark, or slice through fresh powder on the Remarkables?
However you decide to thrill yourself during the day, there’s no better way to chill out afterwards than back at Matakauri on your private terrace, lolling in the infinity pool, or indulging in a treatment at the Spa. Especially if you’ve made the Owner’s Cottage your home. Don’t be fooled by that unassuming title: Wills and Kate have stayed here, and it’s gorgeousness incarnate, from the balcony jacuzzi to the bath-with-a-view. You can dine here too, in front of the open fire or with the other guests in the Lodge’s main dining room, in the library, or on the patio. Wherever you are, you’ll be seduced by chef Jonathan’s inspired mastery of fresh local produce teamed with a wide selection of local and international wines.
Deservedly famous, this modern chateau near Glenorchy offers discreet luxury and low-profile relaxation in an unforgettably spectacular setting. At the top of Lake Wakatipu it is appropriately close to the actual Paradise Valley.
Eichardt’s Private Hotel
Situated right on the lakeside, this historic hotel is a haven of peace amidst Queenstown’s bustle, in its elegant suites and separate lake-front apartments.
Spacious suites have wide views over town, lake and mountains, and the order-in dining option includes the best that Queenstown has to offer.
Sophisticated and stylish, the rooms and suites look out over Queenstown and the lake, both within a short walk. Extravagantly comfortable, the Sofitel offers refined elegance with a French accent.
Things to see and do in Queenstown
You’re 4,572 metres above some of the world’s most stunning scenery — open your eyes! You may be falling at 200km/h, but you’re safely strapped to an experienced parachutist and the 60 seconds of freefall on this tandem skydive is something you’ll talk about forever.
Since 1988, people have been throwing thewmselves off bridges here with elastic cord strapped to their ankles, and bungy jumping is a slick operation. Whether you do it or just watch, it’s a signature Queenstown experience. Don’t fancy that bounce? Then do the Canyon Swing instead and learn how a 60-metre drop can be a gentle thing.
Close to town, Coronet Peak offers skiers and boarders serious action and lots of fun, including night-time excitement, and the Remarkables have slopes and steeps to suit all abilities. Want some private snow? Climb aboard a chopper and be dropped into fresh powder to make your own tracks.
The spectacular scenery will be just a blur in a high-speed jet boat swirl through deep canyons, skirting past the rocks in water just 10cm deep. It’s a white-knuckle, high heart-rate ride with 3600 spins and a lot of involuntary shrieking.
Other regions to consider