As promised from our previous post, our Queenstown adventures now continue!
*WARNING : This is going to be a lengthy post as there are too many beautiful photos, important details and wonderful stories that I don’t want to miss out on!
1) Dinner at Matakauri Lodge
One of our group’s most memorable dinners in Queenstown took place in this gorgeous lodge, the Matakauri Lodge. This is an exclusive, alpine lakeside resort located in one of the most serenely beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. The lodge is spectacularly situated on Lake Wakatipu. The equally gorgeous restaurant inside this lodge is well-known for its unique dining experience with great service in such a luxurious setting.
We had a delicious 8-course Tasting Menu that was paired well with all these award-winning and best tasting New Zealand wines! Every dish prepared tasted fresh, clean and pure. Some of the memorable dishes we had were the roasted Atlantic scallops in black pudding, North Island snapper with mussels and fennel, smoked Canter Valley duck breast with pickled cherry and beetroot, and the Cardrona lamb loin with goats curd and zucchini.
2) Walter Peak Farm Tour
We took the kids to a different kind of tour, the Walter Peak Farm Tour. This took place in a beautiful countryside and one that allowed us to interact with a lot of different farm animals!
In Walter Peak High Country Farm, we were able to get a taste of New Zealand’s farming lifestyle. We saw some llama, a lot of sheep and deer, and we even got to go up close to the Scottish Highland Cattle!
The picturesque and serene Lake Wakatipu’s south-western shores can also be seen from this farm!
And right around the lake, is a charming Colonel’s Homestead that served us a sumptuous afternoon tea.
Afterwards, a farmer led us over to the shearing shed where we were able to watch the farm dogs round up the sheep from the hills!
And then were also shown how they shear a sheep!
Even though this process looks quite “painful” to watch, sheep shearing is actually necessary for the health and happiness of the sheep — and therefore it is painless to them!
Sheep shearing is actually done for two main reasons: to collect the sheep’s wool for sale, but more importantly to relieve them of the heavy wool which may cause them to overheat in the summer.
At the end of the farm tour, we boarded our cruise ship again to go back to Queenstown.
3) The Skyline Luge
The next day was another day that was filled with adventure, one that both the kids and the kids at heart in our group really enjoyed!
We went to the Skyline Queenstown Luge, which has two thrilling tracks with this gorgeous alpine scenery as our backdrop.
The “Luge” is a ride that is part go-kart and part toboggan that allows you to control your speed and direction in a fun-filled gravity ride across tracks. With stunning views across Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, the tracks made me twist and turn my cart around bends, over bumps and through tunnels! It was too fun, I did it with my kids many times over! A definite must-do when in this city!
4) Amisfield Winery
Next on our agenda was a visit to another winery. As we know, New Zealand with its fresh air and clean soil is known for producing some of the world’s best wines.
So we ended up in Amisfield Winery for lunch. They have a state-of-the-art purpose built winery which is the focal point of the vineyard, and one that produces 25,000-30,000 cases of wine annually. Pinot noir accounts for over 60% of the production while the rest is Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Riesling.
We had such a sumptuous and really unforgettable lunch here!
Bluff oysters, live shucked with brut pearls and lemon pepper, salad greens with fresh figs and beetroot, Otago foraged mushrooms, bread crumbs, fresh cheese and herbs, and the sweetest, juiciest cherry tomatoes with olive oil and basil!
We ordered almost the whole menu! West coast whitebait fish with crayfish aioli and wild greens, Canterbury smoked eel, duck liver mousse, apple and five seed bread, Wakanui flank steak with buttermilk, garden herbs and truffle butter.
But guess what remains in my memory to this day??
This crackling pork belly with watercress, apple juice, pigs tails and spicy horopito! It was steamed and cooked in the oven for several hours so the skin turned really crispy and the pork remained juicy with every bite. The meat was really tender and packed with a whole lot of flavor!
Of course, we ended it with their delicious wine and cheese platter, affogato and vanilla ice cream and their crumbly lemon cheesecake. From start to finish, from ambience to service… I say, this was our best meal here in New Zealand!
5) Helicopter Ride Over The Glaciers
Long story short : after our hearty and delicious meal in Amisfield Winery (with lots of wine and bubbly in between and therefore with our cloudy sense of judgment), our group of 6 friends decided that we will take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of touring New Zealand’s famous glaciers — from up in the sky, by a helicopter!!!
This was my view from inside the helicopter. I was seated in front, right beside the pilot, so I was able to see everything without any hindrances!
We hired the company, Over The Top known for their latest helicopters and scenic flights around Queenstown, Milford Sound, Fiords of Southern New Zealand, alpine glaciers and remote lakes. And thank God for perfect conditions that day, our chopper landed safely on the glacier!
And as soon as we stepped foot on the ice, our pilot popped our bottle of bubbly to celebrate with us! We also brought some cheese — and so we were able to actually “picnic in the glacier”!
Yes I was able to ride a chopper and land with it on ice! Yes, I was able to walk on a glacier! Two big check marks on my bucket list in one experience that will be hard to forget!
Seeing this kind of place with my very own eyes and being surrounded by this stunning scenery were simply indescribable. My photos don’t even do justice to this natural beauty.
The sun, sky and ice…and being right in the middle of it all, made me feel so much in awe of God’s wonderful and amazing creation!
But as we are all aware, there is global warming now and with this sad reality, glaciers all over the world are slowly cracking and melting away. We have very few glaciers left and this is one of them. I am very grateful I was able to see it and even walk on it!
As we boarded our helicopter again to fly back to Queenstown, we were blessed with this majestic sight: a beautiful emerald-green lake perfectly situated right in the middle of snow-capped mountains. Truly, this is nature at its best!
And then we soared high again and above the majestic Milford Sound, judged as one of the world’s top travel destinations. Milford Sound with its narrow entry and steep mountain peaks, was another sight to behold from the top! A lot of tourists visit this place taking boat tours but we saw it from a different perspective, from up in the sky!
Every single thing I experienced in Queenstown was truly memorable. Delicious food and wine, stunning landscapes and scenery, thrilling adventures on both land and sea, exhilirating rides from above to land on almost extinct glaciers…This holiday is surely one that is worth writing about (never mind if it took me several days and sleepless nights!) and sharing with all of you… and definitely, one that is worth reliving.
To read Queenstown part 1, click here.
To see the rest of our photos from this trip, search #TSMinNewZealand or click here.