So I had dozens, if not hundreds of comments and questions about our recent trip to Queenstown, NZ. As you guys might remember I headed there for the first time last year on a photography excursion with Olympus, as they detailed it as one of the most photogenic places on earth – and they weren’t wrong!
After falling in love with the place, I knew I had to bring the family back as there was so much to see and do, especially for the kids.
As you guys know I am a super savvy shopper, and that also extends to shopping around for travel, so I have included all my little tips for finding affordable travel, activities and accommodation too 😉
When I was searching around for flights I was getting prices around the $3k mark for 5 people. It’s also a bit harder as there are not many airlines who fly direct from Melbourne and there is about one flight a day per airline.
I popped the price watch on with Jetstar (they update you with emails when the price drops or rises on the selected flights) and waited until they came on sale. I got five people to return for $1400 (including baggage) – not bad if you ask me!
The process at check in with Jetstar was seamless as they have check-in pods rather than manually with a person so we only had to arrive two hours prior and got straight through!! Highly recommend 🙂
We also hired a car when we were there and I would recommend to anyone heading to Queenstown that this is a must! I used a company called Aerodrive, and their prices were about half of the major rental brands. Their site was offsite to the airport but they sent a shuttle and it was about 10 minutes away – it took no time at all and they were super efficient and prompt – defs worth a look!
As we had 5 of us, including two toddlers, we opted for a house via AirBNB. There are dozens available in Queenstown and by far one of the most affordable ways to house a large family! Our particular AirBNB was good, it was spacious and had a good view. It was a little way out of town and up to a hill so hard to walk into the city centre but we had a hire car so not so much an issue.
It did, however, lack a lot of basic amenities and we ran out of things like sugar, toilet paper and there wasn’t a cleaning apparatus in the site so we had to request a vacuum. Especially when you’re with kids you want to be able to clean up crumbs and not live in filth, so I have no idea why they didn’t have that kind of stuff. AirBNB is supposed to be self-service effectively, so they missed the mark on that a lot.
We also spent our last night at the Rees Hotel. By far one of the best and most luxurious places to stay in Queenstown! That being said it’s still relatively affordable and for a two-bedroom luxury apartment it was only $750 a night!
The room was incredible and well worth the money (and view).
See & Do
Hands down would say this was the highlight of our trip. Even just a quick trip up over to Cecil Peak was such an amazing experience.
I had a lot of people ask about ages of kids and both my 2 and 4 year old were able to fly, so don’t let age deter you from hopping in a helicopter with the family!
We flew with Helitours and they were absolutely fantastic. The pilot, Blair, took us on a wonderful tour and pointed out some of the fabulous sites to see!
Arrowtown has to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Whether strolling through the historic town centre, enjoying a delicious pie from the bakery or just walking the tracks up and around the mountains – you could literally spend days here.
We spent hours just walking along the river track with the kids and clocked up 10,000 steps easy and not once did they complain! They just loved taking it all in!
Gondola & Luge
Another great activity for families. I will warn you the parking sitcho is a bit to be desired so if you can walk up from town or get dropped off!
If you’re wondering how many Luge rides to buy, always buy the most! Because I guarantee your kids will beg you for more anyway! And again if you’re worried about ages, both my girls could ride down with an adult no worries. You just won’t be able to take the fast track with two people on board, much to my husband’s disappointment.
So after watching these boats bounce up and down the rivers, we decided we would check out and see if we could hop on with at least Annabelle. Fortunately for us, this was another activity suitable for little ones and Teddy was able to come on too.
This one can be a little pricey but we discovered along our way that NZ has its own version of Groupon called Book Me! So we got online and saved a few dollars by booking via that site. Also, kids under 5 were free.
So did the kids enjoy it? Well, Annabelle was as happy as a pig in mud and Teddy, I shit you not, fell asleep!!!
Queenstown Town Centre
If you’re looking to have a low key day and not spend too much money then I highly suggest just heading into town and having a wander around. There is a great park right on the waterfront and a coffee shop where you can site and supervise – genius!
There is also a rope swing over a creek right near there and trees with low branches to climb – and none of it costs a cent!
Food & Drink
There were also some amazing recommendations given to us but we just didn’t have the chance including, Botswana Butchery, Devil Burger and True South Dining room at The Rees Hotel.
Another thing that absolutely does not disappoint is the food in Queenstown. And such a diverse mix too. Of course, there is the obvious Fergburger, which every man and his dog seems to know about. The line is always long and you spend a lot of your time wondering if it’s even worth it. Well, we finally gave in on our last day and it was bloody amazing – well worth the 40-minute wait.
We also ate the amazing Bazaar restaurant, atop of the QT hotel. It is a buffet style and the selection of food is absolutely amazing. You couldn’t honestly even imagine trying half of it as there is just SO much. There is also matching wines for the different types of food.
We got the chance to sneak away for a little date night and headed to Madam Woo. Much like our hawker’s restaurants in Melbourne, it had amazing tapas style food and very affordable.
The Akarua Winery was also a highlight and an amazing stop for both parents and kids! They have a playhouse, sandpit and even bean bags throughout the venue!