New Zealand Backpacking – 5 Days in Queenstown

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After a too brief stay in Mt Cook it was time to move on. Next up we fancied somewhere a bit less rural and with a bit more going on. So we made for cool little Queenstown, which after all the hiking shenanigans felt like a breath of fresh air.

Lindis Pass, Otago, New Zealand
Lindis Pass, Otago, New Zealand

After spending a few hours chilling in our Mt Cook Hostel, we hopped on an afternoon bus to Queenstown. Our bus driver was oddly chatty this time, and for a few hours he gave a running commentary as we went along. To begin with it was quite fun, informative and entertaining. After awhile it got a bit tiresome, the man barely drew breath and he made it hard to switch off and just enjoy the journey.

At one point during the journey we had a brief pause along the beautiful Lindis Pass. The bus driver informed us that during the winter the pass in regularly closed for hours due to snowfall and snow blowing onto the roads. Luckily he informed us that as spring was well on the way we were likely to have missed it. (Obviously we had, we got through fine!) But we pulled over briefly to get a quick pic of the lovely views, still dusted with a little snow.

Sir Cedrics Laughter Backpackers

Eventually though, we arrived and headed to our hostel Sir Cedrics Laughter Backpackers. We picked this place for its reasonable price and it had a hot tub again, but largely because it had laundry facilities. Time to get some clean togs! Our room was a double, slightly separated from the dorms and shared rooms, and we had our own bathroom. And it came with a sign declaring it the The Love Shack. Indeed! πŸ˜‰

Queenstown, New ZealandThere was also complimentary free soup in the evenings, so upon arrival we grabbed some free soup and then headed out to the famous Fergburger! The queue was huge, and our order got forgotten about so we had a bit of a wait on our hands. Eventually we did get our food though, and the chips were quite good. The burger itself was really big, and came with a LOT of filling (see picture!) but it was not as amazing as I had expected due to all the hype. Honestly, the stories I have heard about these burgers, I was expecting a near religious experience, but it just wasn’t quite as good as I imagined.

Day 1 – Relaxing/Doing Nothing!

Our first full day in Queenstown we were laaaazy.

At this point in our trip, we’d been on the go fro 10 day. It had been quite physical, carrying our bags, and lots of hiking and on limited calories, so by this point I for one was knackered. For the first time we spent a day relaxing rather than site seeing.Β  We slept in, had a lovely late breakfast, and then popped across the road to Bespoke Kitchen for coffee and a sweet treat. I’d hugely recommend this cute little cafe for a chill out, and they were really accommodating with my nut allergy. We topped the day off with an afternoon literally just wandering around the town centre and down by the waterfront to get a feel for the place.

Strangely for us (that’s sarcasm there) we ended up in a bar, Atlas Beer Cafe, for a few well needed drinks! This cute little bar quickly became a firm favourite –Β  we only had drinks this time but we were eyeing up the food for sure! Following our burger disappointment the day before we opted to try a different burger chain. So we tried Devil Burger instead and this time I was blown away. I had the Mary’s Little Lamb – a lamb patty with mint jelly and a rosemary hash brown. Whoever thought of putting mint jelly into a burger is a bloody genius. Dare I say it, I thought mine was better than Fergburger.

Keeping Fit

Still trying to keep fit, despite the laziness, on Day 3 I made the mistake of doing a leg workout back in our hostel. After discovering a knack for them in Lake Tekapo, I started testing out doing pistol squat progression on a step outside our hostel room and really pushed myself! Normally that would be fine, but I made the mistake of working out right before we headed out to do the Queenstown Hill walk – a wonderful but semi steep hill climb, with spectacular views from the top. The walk was described as ‘moderate.’ That’s debatable. My leg and glute muscles were on FIRE half way up. Thank goodness Ian has the patience of a saint, and puts up with my whining.

Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand


Queenstown, New Zealand
Sitting in the Basket of Dreams – Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown Hill

Part way up the man friend produced a secret stash of dark chocolate – which we eagerly (and on my part very gratefully) devoured as we sat in the basket overlooking the town, with the most lovely views of The Remarkables ahead of us. The basket is an art installation called The Basket of Dreams, made of steel. It was a lovely touch that blended in with the rural surroundings. I blinked in ALL the pictures I took of it, so apologies for that mess of a photo. But it does show the basket and views.

We then headed up the final bit of the hill, which took about another 10-15 minutes. The views from the top were so gorgeous, and you could see both sides of the hill, so away from Queenstown as well. The views really fuelled my enthusiasm for the next day – when we planned to head up the Queenstown Skyline Gondola!


Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand
View from Queenstown Hill – Queenstown, New Zealand

We headed back down and back to the bar from the previous day. (We loved it that much!) I had an incredible steak dinner and delicious Apple Crumble Cider which blew my mind. It tasted so much like apple crumble, I would love to know how it was made. A wonderful bar though, I would highly recommend them. I don’t remember a huge amount from the rest of the evening… I wrote in my notes ‘Ian got smashed and then we went for food.’

Queenstown Luge

On day 4 we actually made the effort to get up a decent hour as we’d planned things to do!

Queenstown, New ZealandWe made for Bespoke again for our morning coffee fix and then headed over to the Skyline. (I read to go early in the day to avoid the crowds, as it gets busier throughout the day.) So we took the gondola ride 450m up to the top of Bob’s Peak. Interestingly the gondola is the steepest cable car ride in the southern hemisphere. And then made straight for the Luge.

Luging is… well sort of go carting but there are no motors. Luges are powered simply by gravity, so can only go downhill. Its pretty simple, you push forward to go and pull back to brake, and then off you go. All you really do is steer and zooooom down the hill. And then when you get to the bottom, you hop on a chairlift, and GO AGAIN! I think we went around 4-5 times, grinning from ear to ear and with lots of giggling.

Queenstown, New ZealandIts fast paced, invigorating and definitely brought out our childish competitive sides, racing down the hill (Ian won mostly.) I’m glad we went early as it wouldn’t have been as good with more people on the track. I didn’t get any pictures of us luging unfortunately, as my tech was stowed safely in a locker. But it meant I was able to really live in the moment and act like a kid.

Skyline Bar & Queenstown Gardens

After a morning of running up and down the hill like loons, we decided to act a bit more our age, and have a more sedate rest of the day. So we spent some time ambling around the top of the peak, and then had some drinks in the bar area of the restaurant. Where we drank with the most amazing views of The Remarkables (a wonderfully named mountain range, see photo above!)

That afternoon we indulged a wonderful hot tub session, and then a casual stroll around the Queenstown Gardens. We had a such a wonderful time just strolling and talking (it was a touch on the romantic side!) We actually went around it a few times. (Whilst dodging the crazy Disc Golf players – a weird mix of frisbee and golf?) And we watched the sun go down beautifully over the mountains.

Queenstown, New Zealand


Final Days – Relaxing and Recuperating

The next 2 days we took it very easy and quiet. The weather turned on us and became a bit wet and miserable, which was unusual. We had so far been very lucky with the weather. So we had a cinema day and watched a movie, which a guy we met in Canada had worked on. It was pretty cool seeing his name in the credits. We also utilized the facilities of our hostel (one of the reasons we picked it!) so we spent the day doing some laundry and the all important, booking of our travels ahead.

During our trip we tried to book up in blocks. 2-3 weeks in advance so we knew we wouldn’t get stuck anywhere. So we spent an afternoon interneting it up. We planned ahead for the rest of the south island, researching th things we wanted to see and do. Then booking our Intercity buses and hostels for the next few weeks – right up till returning to Wellington.

Next on our tour of New Zealand was the much anticipated stop at Te Anua and the Milford Sound!

Queenstown New Zealand

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51 thoughts to “New Zealand Backpacking – 5 Days in Queenstown”

  1. New Zealand is such a beautiful country! I had grand dreams of backpacking when I was younger…I think now I’d need to train to do it LOL. It looks so worth though. Those views are stunning.

  2. Lol I agree with you I would have been irritated with the driver as well if he was talking the whole way through the journey although I imagine he was trying to entertain you on your bus journey. The cable car ride is beautiful and it reminds me of the cable cars that run through Funchal in Madeira, which is my parents home country! The view from Queenstown Hill is absolutely breathtaking as well x

  3. I’m biting my nails on looking at the beauty NewZealand posses in itself. Getting more crazy over Queenstown city, it indeed is lovely. The image of sun setting over the mountains deserves a great thumbs up!

  4. I’m a mountain person, so these photos talked to me big time. I grew up in the Carpathian mountains in Europe, and these here remind me of home too much. Never been to New Zealand, but I’ve heard it’s truly beautiful.

  5. Your post brings back so many memories from Queenstown! I loved it and it was my first contact with NZ. I also checked the Fergburger it’s massive, ahahaha! It’s such and adventurous city with so many sports to do, loved your photos it really shows the beauty of Queenstown!

  6. Love the idea of the luge – it must be like a go-kart? Also, really enjoy Skylines, such an intimate way to see a landscape. NZ looks so beautiful, it came to my attention after the movie industry chose it for their locations for lots of productions. Glad you had a great time πŸ™‚

    1. Its very similar to a go cart yes – but a lot lighter as its really just the frame with no motorised parts. Very fun though! We loved the scenery from LotR too – part of the reason I loved the idea of going!

    1. Ah is it the height or safety that bothers you? I t was quite a short ride, and felt very safe! The scenery was wonderful though, really breathtaking.

  7. WOW New Zealand has been on my life list for years! Ever since the Lord of the Rings! It is just to plush and green. Thank you for sharing your journey with us all… what are the people like? πŸ™‚

  8. What a wonderful few days in Queenstown. I’m especially glad you were able to build in a few days of rest. Too funny about your leg workout right before the hike. That’s something I would do and afterward say “Duh!” It all seems worth it though because the views are absolutely stunning! x

    1. Half way up the hil I was cursing away, but when we got to the top it was very much worth it πŸ™‚ And yes it was a great place to rest for awhile too, we’d been on the go for awhile and was starting to get a bit wiped out. It was a lovely place to chill for a few days.

  9. Wow. The photos were breathtaking! ‘The Remarkables’ Mountain Range truly was remarkable. New Zealand is such a beautiful country filled with so many natural landscapes. Glad you enjoyed it!

    1. Hehe, hey Instagram friend *waves*
      Definitely head South if you haven’t already, I just had a peak at your blog, are you based in Auckland?

  10. Queenstown was also one of our New Zealandese highlights! But we didn’t go to Fergburger. Some friends did, and we tasted what they got. And honestly, I still think it was a waste of time and money for them!
    But the hikes around Queenstown ? Definitely breathtaking!

    1. Yea I agree, it wasn’t terrible, it just didn’t live up to all the hype! The hikes are lovely, I wish we could have done a few more!

  11. In love with the sunset pic over the mountains! I’ve been browsing through your blog a bit, I’m very curious about NZ! I’ve been in Australia for one year and never really considered travelling to NZ as well, but I’m getting so many wonderful reviews from outdoor lovers! enjoy your time there!

  12. Ah brings back so many memories of Queenstown – we also took some time to do some active downtime and caught a great NZ movie called Black Sheep. And I also made sure wherever we stopped around the whole of the South Island had a hot tub or it was no go lol

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  14. What a relaxing view! I’d love to visit New Zealand someday. One of my uncle has been working there and I’ve seen from his photos that it really is very nice to be there and try the skyline to see the magnificent views.

  15. Wow sounds like u had an amazing time. It’s great that you had a chance to relax too. New Zealand is definitely a bucket list dream for me and Queensland looks like it has such stunning views.

  16. What a wonderful adventure. Your pictures are awesome and take me back to my time in NZ. It’s the most beautiful, awe-inspiring country. Can’t wait to go back some day.

  17. I have never been to New Zealand. It reminds me slightly of Ireland from the photographs because of the lush and green vegetation. However, I think that New Zealand gets proper summer seasons which Ireland does not.. I would love to go backpacking to a country like this with so much diverse landscape.

  18. Wow! Five days vacation.. that would be a luxury and dream for me – the longest I had was four (4) and yes I ask if possible for one more – but it will not go to what we plan. And to New Zealand, definitely as big YES on all views and place that you posted. I hope we could have that entire week to stay there too.

  19. I enjoyed reading your account of this part of your trip. Quite personal and quite funny. I felt as if I were there too. It’s true that the food and ambiance of the smaller bars and those out of the way cafes are often way better than the bigger venues which can afford all the PR and hype. Love the gorgeous sunset against the distant mountains.

  20. I really do enjoy reading about your adventures and really do love your photo’s. The cable car ride looks awesome and the view from Queenstown Hill is amazing x

    1. We did! I’m going to write a post about it soon! We were only there briefly though, you’re so lucky to go that regularly πŸ™‚

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