Any individual that wears the title ‘Foodie’ (self-proclaimed or not) with pride, is also likely to be someone that plans the food component of their holidays… wisely. A little research goes a long way, and whether you’re on one end of the spectrum—that asks people who have been, and then the locals about where to go—or the other—that you reserve a spot in a restaurant first, and look at nearby hotels to stay in second—food still rates very high on your priority list for a true travel experience.
Queenstown in the South Island of New Zealand is a breathtakingly beautiful place to visit all year round, but if you’re looking to hit the slopes this winter, visit during the coldest months (June to September, with August being the best for snow) and you won’t be disappointed.
Prior to travelling, I embarked on a little word-of-mouth discovery from people who had visited, lived or worked in Queenstown. ‘Where is the best place to eat?’ was always one of my initial questions, and in retrospect I’m very disappointed to tell you that the common answer was Fergburger. As far as burgers go, they were good. But lining up for the better part of an hour with 70 other people—in the snow—good? Safe to say, unless you’re a burger fiend, steer clear.
This list of dining suggestions includes top-notch hospitality, gourmet grub, and carefully considered cuisine.
Breakfast, Brunch, Coffee + Snacks
Avoid the typical hotel buffet breakfast, where the eggs are always overdone, and copious amounts of salt are needed on the soggy array of mushrooms, bacon and beans. Try one of these cute local spots instead.
Vudu Cafe & Larder
There’s Vudu, and then there’s Vudu Cafe & Larder. There’s no real harm in getting the two confused; the only difference is the modern and light-filled interior of the latter. The coffee is super, enough to make any Melburnian feel at home, and the baked goods are rustic and mouth-watering. The breakfast offering is hearty and quirky, with standouts being some tasty grilled haloumi and poached eggs. Definitely a stop to fill up on protein and get you ready for an adventure-packed day.
16 Rees St, Queenstown vudu.co.nz
Similar to a brekkie you might have wandering down Chapel Street in Prahran, Burke Road in Camberwell, or—let’s be honest—most streets in Melbourne, The Exchange prides itself on flavourful coffee, freshly squeezed fruit and veg juices, and bursting-with-zing dishes. The rustic eggs Benedict with a house-made potato rosti and creamed spinach is a (fantastic) punch to the tastebuds, and the sweet corn fritters with maple bacon doesn’t disappoint either.
39 Ballarat Street, Queenstown theexchangecafe.kiwi
What started out as a cheeky post-snowboarding snack, turned into an addictive, daily calorie-crazy ritual. Cookie Time is a bit of a New Zealand institution, and if you’ve ever had one of their steaming hot and still gooey treats fresh out of the oven, you’ll know why. They also run some sweet deals like cookie happy hour, and discounts for lift-pass holders. A must munch for those with a sweet tooth.
18 Camp Street, Queenstown
Dinner + Drinks
If you’re from Melbourne, then you’ve probably spent most your life, living in a food-lovers paradise (cue Coolio). Lucky for you, there are a TONNE of restaurants in Queenstown. But after a few conversations indicating local attitudes ‘more is better, feed me meat, lots of meat!’, we decided to do our own investigating. Sans the snobbery, I think it’s fair to say that Melbourne has some ripper food, and that quality over quantity reigns popular. Here’s a few of Queenstown’s best (from a Melburnian perspective).
Modern Malaysian Hawker-inspired cuisine meets funky upbeat interior. Wait for your table (and you will have to wait) upstairs at an intimate lounge/bar, and try one of their intriguing cocktails, such as the apple and elderflower collins, or the lemongrass and chilli mojito. Dining downstairs is casual and close quarters, so don’t be surprised if conversation occurs between neighbouring tables—something that seems natural within the friendly and sociable vibe Madam Woos creates. From roti rolls to laksa, market fish curry, and shredded duck noodles, to lychee salads, Madam Woos is definitely a flavour journey. Finish up with crispy fried banana and spicy ginger ice cream.
5 The Mall, Lower Ballarat Street, Queenstown madamwoo.co.nz
Rata by Michelin chef Josh Emett is an elegant and refined dining concept, set in a dark and sexy contemporary interior. The food is of exceptional calibre, with the wine list featuring select drops from the Otago region, and slightly further afield New Zealand, too. Little morsels of goats cheese profiteroles with blossom honey and rosemary make for delicious starters, as does the seared Wakanui sirloin with crispy ox tongue, oyster mayonnaise and edamame. Every dish is presented with masterful technique, and if you’re lucky enough to slide into a spot at the bar, you can watch the elaborateharvey cocktail making process too. The highlight is the beautifully quaint cheese trolley that gets rolled table to table after the main course. Reservations are essential, so don’t miss out on this fine dining experience and make sure to book ahead.
Te Nuku, 43 Ballarat St, Queenstown ratadining.co.nz
Downstairs from the boutique private hotel—Eichardt’s—is this intimate little bar that makes a perfect cosy spot to settle yourself into for the evening. Order Bollinger by the glass, or one of their more exciting cocktails while you nestle down into a luxurious sofa. In the coldest weather you can enjoy the crackling fireplace and smooth mulled wine, while you nibble on delicious treats such as wild game terrine with homemade pickles and relish, or calamari in squid ink batter with lemon aioli, followed by cute and scrumptious petit fours.
2 Marine Parade, Queenstown
A Day Trip to Arrowtown
Only a half hour trip out of Queenstown, plan a day in nearby Arrowtown. If you don’t have a car, there’s a handy local bus that will drop you off and pick you up, leaving you to peruse the numerous delis, old-fashioned shops and even partake in a scenic river walk.
The Chop Shop Food Merchants
You will queue for The Chop Shop, but it will be worth it. Trendy and quirky food pairings result in some fantastic dishes, such as a smoked pork hock hash, and surprisingly good coffee served in boat-sized mugs. The menu is a strange mix of many different cuisines, but it really works, and if the crowds are anything to go by, it consistently works, too.
44 Buckingham Street, Arrowtown, Queenstown
A small local chain store, Patagonia Chocolates also have a cafe in Queenstown, but it’s worth a pop by the Arrowtown location to pick up a hot lavender chocolate to keep you warm while you explore the main shopping strip. With gourmet gelato for the warmer weather, you can grab some takeaway, or dine in and explore ridiculously rich and memorable sweet treats. The individual chocolates are rather exceptional for a take-home tidbit.
31 Ramshaw Lane, Arrowtown patagoniachocolates.co.nz