New Zealand is famed for its natural beauty.
21.09.2023 - 04:15 / forbes.com
Queenstown, New Zealand, wouldn’t be Queenstown if it weren’t far away from everything—more than three hours’ flight from the closet foreign city of Sydney, a long transpacific slog from the west coast of the U.S., a diabolically long distance from western Europe. (This part of the world is called the Antipodes for a reason.) But being tucked away in the snowy mountains at the bottom of the world is what gives it its character: It’s a cosmopolitan frontier town, full of ruggedly individualistic locals and generous transplants, ski bums and worldly chefs, shepherds and sommeliers.
Beside and below Queenstown is the large, luminous Lake Wakatipu. All around it are peaks of the range named the Remarkables, which is probably the best mountain name in the world—a blend of Kiwi understatement and spot-on accuracy. They’re a playground for sports and mountain sports, Think Vail without the attitude, or Courchevel without the designer boutiques.
If the tech billionaires ever emerge from their apocalypse bunkers, they’ll have a magical natural playground all to themselves. In the meantime, the rest of us have a charming small city to visit that combines excellent restaurants, terrific wine, spectacular landscapes and colorful characters. Here are a few highlights.
Queenstown and its surroundings have no shortage of lovely places to stay, from the superior luxury of Julian Robertson’s Matakauri Lodge (soon to be managed by Rosewood) to the old-world Eichardt’s Private Hotel that’s right on the waterfront. The best of both worlds (if you’re traveling in a group) exists in the newly built Matatkiri Residence, a private house that sleeps 12 people in six bedrooms and has all the creature comforts you can think of. It’s high enough up the hill to have captivating views of the lake, but still just a short walk from the center of town.
The Central Otago Valley is famous for elegant pinot noir, and it reaches its apotheosis at Amisfield. For two decades, agronomists André Lategan and George Mackersy have been overseeing the sustainable and now certified organic grapes in the vineyards, while current winemakers Sam Davies and Ben Leen are overseeing the process in the winery, sometimes with a soundtrack of 1990s hip-hop. The result is pinots that regularly wine awards, but also surprisingly delicious sparkling, white and rosé wines.
Hands-down the most fascinating restaurant in New Zealand, and one of the most intriguing anywhere. New Zealand–born chef Vaughn Mabee is equal parts wild mountain man who shoots deer off his back porch and hunts most of the meat on his menu, classically trained chef who spent years at Noma and Martin Berasategui, and mad scientist who stays up late researching the molecular structure of
New Zealand is famed for its natural beauty.
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