Sometimes you forget how majestic and special New Zealand is. In these days of cheaper international flights, we so often look off shore for our next adventure, so when a work trip collided with my husband’s birthday, it seemed so very sensible to turn the mundane into the magical.
In my world, you should always aim to wake up somewhere special on your birthday. As mine falls squarely in the school holidays, I have been lucky enough to wake up in Rome, Hawaii, Athens, Koh Samui and this year I will wake up in Vietnam. The husband is not so lucky. May is that random month miles away from school holidays and bang smack in the middle of autumn turning its mind to winter. Getting away for any length of time is challenging and the weather is unlikely to be your friend. Worse still, this year in fell on a Monday. A horrendous way to celebrate any milestone.
We had all had a busy couple of months so long story short, without any warning, I grabbed the family and headed South to the magical mountain city of Queenstown.
There is nothing like flying through the clouds and emerging to the full glory of the snow covered Southern Alps. It is mind blowing and you can understand why the world can’t get enough of it.
Last minute flights are rarely kind on the back pocket (flying in on a Sunday is not too bad) but the same cannot be said for hotels. We scored an incredible last-minute rate at the truly wonderful Eichardt Private Hotel, right on the water in the heart of Queenstown. www.eichardts.com
With only 36 hours in town there was little point being anywhere but in the thick of it and as far as hotels go, there is none better located and the accommodation and service are exceptional. We chose to stay in the two bedroom apartment about 50 metres from the main hotel. It is truly spectacular. The fire roaring, the fur throws to snuggle into, separate bedroom and bathroom for the small person and a kitchenette stocked with complimentary cookies, soft drinks and chocolate. Things had gotten off to a great start!
An afternoon of wandering the town, a quick lunch at Ferg Burger and the waterfront, there is nothing better than walking into your own apartment to sip coffee in the surprisingly warm conservatory and watch the world scurry by. Rugged up against the cold, but still with the view.
Complimentary canapés and drinks followed in the early evening at the fantastic but tiny bar in the hotel. Even if you are not able to stay in the hotel the bar is definitely worth a visit when in town. The warm, cosy set up is matched by the warmth and professionalism of the staff and the choice of cocktails is fantastic.
Madam Woo was an easy choice for a family dinner. The energy and vibe are evident the moment you walk in. At 6.30 on a Sunday night in May, the place was packed and heaving. The menu always fresh and changes regularly. Based on Malaysian Street food it is perfect for sharing and delicious. The clean fresh flavours stay with you long after the meal is finished. Perfect for groups and families, I would recommend it to anyone who loves a great meal, served fresh and fast.
If you are after a quick meal on the go, then the recently opened Hawker and Roll is a definite go to spot. More casual than her big sister Madam Woo, she offers the tastiest choices all wrapped up in delicious roti rolls, for those in a hurry.
The next morning, waking up somewhere magical was achieved. Not light till 8am, it was easy to sleep in and mooch about by the fire, read books and even easier to forget to was a Monday.
After a long lazy breakfast, at the hotel, a quick meeting, a spot of shopping and photos by the lake front, Rata by Josh Emmet was the obvious choice for a celebration lunch on the hubby’s birthday. There is something so perfect about the marriage of seasonal foods, impeccable service and a 5 star dinning experience that make Rata the best place in town. Again, they think of everything, from a kids menu to a birthday dessert and the wine list is outstanding.
With full bellies and magic memories our sneaky Monday came to an end. But with the best Koru lounge in the country, Queenstown Airport is a place that is worth spending your last few moments in.
As we fly home on the world’s favorite airline I am in no doubt that this trip was worth every penny – happy Birthday my love x.
Highlights from small heights
Go away. I’m busy enjoying myself.
Top two tips: Shoo and definitely don’t forget the Remarkable Sweet Shop like Mum did-best place ever, the fudges alone…