Wanaka to Queenstown is a relatively short drive, and even though we took the scenic route via Cardrona and stopped a couple of times for pictures, it was still way too early to check in when we got to Queenstown.
We then did what pretty much everyone else seemed to be doing as well, which was take a drive to Glenorchy. The 45min drive to Glenorchy takes you along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and the weather was beautiful – making for stunning views and scenery all the way to Glenorchy. At the town we stopped for a while and had lunch before driving back to Queenstown, finding parking, and checking into the Queenstown Central YHA.
I was a bit nervous about staying in another youth hostel, but even though I booked accommodation about 4-5 months in advance, Queenstown proved very hard to find affordable, central accommodation in. The youth hostel, though a bit dated, was perfect for us, with a patio and plenty of room – and more importantly, very central – as the name implies (also probably the Youth Hostel with the best views in the wordl)! We decided to not bother with going up in the gondola (Skyline) and lounged about for a bit, utilising their extremely fast and free WiFi before going outside for a bit of sun! The couple of days we had in Queenstown were some of the best days weather wise and I think we were very lucky, as they apparently get rainy days more often than not!
We did our usual tour of the town’s bars and eateries, stopping at Surreal Bar, The World Bar (amazing burgers!!) and Atlas Beer Cafe before it got dark – and very cold, very quickly! I can also report that I am getting heartily sick of beer!
Our second day in Queenstown started with a 7:30am pickup from the YH for our trip to Milford Sound with the BBQ Bus Tour. It was a long trip to Milford, stopping here and there for pictures of more great views, and a BBQ lunch before getting on the boat at 2:30pm. Our guide never stopped talking during the 7 hours it took to get to the sound, but thankfully it was mostly informative and interesting!
The trip on the sound is about 1hr45 and of course very scenic and pretty, despite the hordes of people taking hundreds of selfies and getting in your way all the time! The trip back was long and pretty tedious as well, but at least we could spread out a bit as more than half of the passengers (the clever ones!) chose to fly back to Queenstown rather than go back by bus. We got back to Queenstown about 9pm and had a quick few drinks and I ended up trying out the famous Fergburger that everyone goes on about (there are queues all through the day). The burger patty was pretty good, but the bun way over the top and too big for the patty – but I suppose that’s what makes it look so big and give people the impression that it is great value for money!
Queenstown is a beautiful town – you really cannot ask for a better setting – with loads to do and see and plenty of bars and restaurants all within walking distance of the central town, and I can see why people love it there. The town is also very busy with tourists and backpackers and pretty much all the bar staff we encountered were English!