Queenstown is similar to Wanaka, except that it is a lot busier and touristy. It is really popular for extreme sports and partying, but I preferred Wanaka's chill, small-town vibe. It still has the laid-back culture typical of New Zealand though. The "no shoes, no shirt, no service" thing doesn't exist here, and I have loved being able to walk barefoot through supermarkets, bookstores, and around town.
New Zealand is the safest country I've visited - Kiwis (locals from New Zealand) are so kind, and hitch-hiking is really popular. Danielle and I have picked up several hitch-hikers while road-tripping around the South Island, and in Queenstown we tried it ourselves for the first time (as our campsite was several miles away from the town center and trying to find a parking spot here was insane). The first couple times we got picked up right away (~5 minutes), but the third time we had to wait close to an hour. Anyways, we met some cool people this way!
"No shoes, no shirt...no problem" ...even in the supermarket! :)
Hitch-Hiking thumb up!
In the town center we found several buskers playing guitar and singing on the street, lots of shops (mostly selling outdoors-gear and souvenirs), and a small beach/dock area (though pretty crowded). It was a nice stopover for a couple of days.
This is a famous gourmet burger restaurant in Queenstown. Danielle and I both ordered the original "Fergburger" - it was huge and pretty good...but I think the USA really has the best burgers, so Fergburger is famous because it's amazing according to New Zealand standards. The restaurant was packed, so we opted to take our burgers and ginger beer out to the grass where we ate and listened to some buskers playing music.
Patagonia Chocolates is a dessert restaurant that serves chocolates, coffee, ice cream, and other sweets. Danielle and I kept hearing how delicious their ice cream was, so when we arrived to Queenstown, we finally decided to try it. I had a cone with "mascarpone cheese and fruits of the forest" flavored ice cream. It was yummy, but nothing compares to Italian gelato. We sat outside in the sun overlooking the water and enjoyed it!
Happy Chinese New Year!
We happened to be in Queenstown for Chinese New Year, which is a big deal here because of all the asian tourists. In the morning we saw a dragon performance going on in the street for the celebration.
-- The best stories are found between the pages of a passport --