Queenstown has a reputation for adrenaline-pumping activities with everything from white water rafting to bungee jumping on offer - but if you’re after relaxation the town offers great escapes for some quiet time too. Settled by Lake Wakatipu the scenery is spectacular and the mountain views never fail to catch the breath. For a real sense of escapism there are several tours that set off into the countryside, working their way past gently flowing rivers, through valleys or off into the peace of the mountains. If you’re not much of a climber take the Skyline Gondola which effortlessly transports passengers to Bob’s Peak. The elevated position right at the top provides a great vantage point for looking out at other notable mountains including Coronet Peak and the charmingly named, Walter and Cecil Peaks. The Remarkables are another famous mountain range and are so called due to their extraordinary jagged formation. From Bob’s Peak the views of Lake Wakatipu can also be described as remarkable and from here it’s easy to see why the lake is regarded as one of New Zealand’s most beautiful.
Back down on the ground exploring the valleys and rivers by horseback is an interesting way to see the countryside around Queenstown. Most companies pick up from hotels in Queenstown and take riders out to saddle up and set off for half or full day excursions. Along the way the tours pass farmland and vineyards which are actually the southernmost areas for producing wine in the world. Gibbston Valley is one of the famous wine areas and is about 20 minutes by car from Queenstown, heading to Kawarau Gorge. On a separate occasion visitors can join in with wine tours including the Queenstown Wine Trail which departs for the famous Queenstown and Bannockburn wineries. It’s possible to sample many different wines and the guides can help visitors learn how to recognise the distinctive qualities of the premium wines from the region.
Another ideal place to unwind with a bottle of wine is at Wine Tastes which has a cellar stocked with over 700 varieties. Easily located in the centre of town, wine enthusiasts can also taste more than 80 of the country’s best wines if they don’t want to drink it by the bottle. The tastings use an innovative system where the amount of wine poured into your glass is selected at a touch of a button. Three options are available, enabling people to either start with just a mouthful or select full or half glasses. Having tasted and decided on a few favourites the company also has a direct international shipping service which enables wines to be sent back home.
For the ultimate in relaxation the Onsen Hot Pools are a bathing experience that is also soothingly therapeutic. There aren’t many baths in the world that have views like this as the hot tubs face the mountain range and are all housed within a private and secluded setting. The cedar baths are filled with pure waters which gently massage as the jets circulate and breathing in the clean mountain air adds to the soothing properties of the water. Each bath has its own shower and private changing area and a unique feature are the picture windows which can automatically be retracted into the roof simply by pressing a button. Bathing is possible all day or at night is when the pools become especially romantic as the sky is filled with stars. When this happens it’s difficult to decide when the views are more spectacular but to further add to the effects the walls are lined with soft glowing lanterns that make the bathing all the more romantic.
Lek Boonlert is an editor and content reviewer at DirectRooms and is responsible for all Hotels in Queenstown content.