Whether you are a thrill-seeker, outdoor enthusiast or a lover of fine food and wine, Queenstown, deep in the South Island of New Zealand, has plenty to keep you entertained in style.
Known for its Hobbits - much of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed in the area – Queenstown is also renowned for some of the best ski runs in the southern hemisphere, as well as for kayaking, bungee jumping, jet boating, white-water rafting and hiking.
The less adventurous can enjoy a cruise through nearby Milford Sound, part of the Fjordland National Park World Heritage area, or maybe sample some fine Central Otago pinot noir from one of the region's 75 wineries.
In mid winter, skiing at resorts like Cardrona, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Treble Cone takes centre stage, but the town is also known for its vibrant nightlife scene. There are two very different demographics here; younger wilder snow sports enthusiasts and an older, more sophisticated crowd.
Queenstown and surrounding towns Arrowtown, Wanaka, Alexandra and Cromwell attract over one million visitors a year – and this is where AJ Hackett operated the world’s first commercial bungee jumping operation.
Queenstown is also home to several impressive luxury resorts; the most spectacular, and exclusive, of which is Matakauri Lodge, a sister property to two of New Zealand’s best-known high-end lodges, Kauri Cliffs and the Lodge at Cape Kidnappers.
Matakauri Lodge, which sits perched above the waters of glacial Lake Wakatipu, is one of those places where nothing is too much trouble for the staff – as you’d expect from a member of the exclusive Relais & Chateaux group.
It offers a range of activities, from golf to a helicopter tour of some of the region’s most stunning natural attractions.
Most visitors also take a cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the historic steam ship the TSS Earnslaw, which was built in 1912 and is the only remaining passenger-carrying coal-fired steamship in the southern hemisphere.
Known as “The Lady of the Lake”, the Earnslaw makes several trips each day from Queenstown to Walter Peak High Country Farm, where visitors can enjoy dramatic scenery, farm tours, horse treks and heritage tours
Those looking for a more active afternoon can opt for a Shotover Jet ride on wild, raging Shotover River, an experience that is billed as “the world’s most exciting jet boat ride.”
One of the best times to visit Queenstown is for Winterfest from June 21-30 this year. The quintessential winter experience is a 10-day celebration of Queenstown's unique culture and community with street parties, fireworks, international and local acts, jazz, comedy, Mardi Gras, family fun and sporting events.
Fishing is also popular and you can give your catch to the lodge's chefs to create a gastronomic feast.
Matakauri Lodge, which was named by Tatler magazine as one of the world's 101 best hotels, also earned a spot on Conde Nast Traveller's 2011 Hot List. It has a very special charm and most guests will want to spend as much time in-house as possible.
After a sauna, jacuzzi or dip in the outdoor infinity pool, pre-dinner drinks and meals are served in the main lodge at Matakauri with dramatic views of Lake Wakatipu and the snow-capped Remarkables, Cecil and Walter Peak mountain ranges. Private dining can be arranged for couples seeking romance.
Executive chef Dale Gartland has worked at English two-hat Michelin restaurant Gidleigh Park and matches dishes like seared scallops and grilled scampi with garlic and parsley butter, crayfish thermidor or fillet of beef with roast shallots, potato puree and asparagus to a fine collection of New Zealand wines, including several choices from the owners’ own vineyards.
Matakauri Lodge has just 11 luxury suites, each with private terraces, and all tariffs include dinner, breakfasts and a complimentary mini bar.
Valid from May 1-July 31, 2013, Australian residents reserving a deluxe suite will enjoy a complimentary third night when staying two or more consecutive nights. Deluxe suite rates over this period are NZ$890 per person per night (twin/share) or NZ$1395 single occupancy and include pre-dinner drinks, gourmet dinners, full breakfasts, complimentary non-alcoholic mini-bar and use of all lodge facilities.
Matakauri Lodge is at 569 Glenorchy Road, Queenstown. Phone: +64 3 441 1008.