It’s virtually impossible to describe the beauty of Queenstown, New Zealand to anyone who hasn’t visited, but all I can say is this: it is truly one of the most magnificent places on earth. The breathtaking experience begins from the moment you fly into Queenstown Airport, which recently landed the top spot on a list of the most stunning airport approaches in the world.
As you glide over pristine frozen lakes and the snow-capped Remarkables—a mountain range that runs directly North to South—you’ll feel as if you’ve been plucked out of reality and dropped onto the set of a movie. And, actually, you have. “Middle Earth,” as the region is often called, has served as the backdrop for several films, most notably the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
But the resort town is much more than a place to find spectacular scenery. Located in the southwestern region of New Zealand’s South Island, Queenstown wows even the most well-heeled travelers, thanks to a slew of five-star hotels, exquisite cuisine and award-winning local wines. It’s a place where active jetsetters can heli-ski unchartered slopes, and leisure-loving visitors can spend a week luxuriating in a swanky lodge.
Ready to plan a trip? Here are five ways to make it a once-in-a-lifetime getaway.
HOLE UP IN A LUXURY ALPINE LODGE
Bask in the breathtaking views of Lake Wakatipu and the Humboldt Mountains from a secluded chalet at Blanket Bay. It’s rumored that the über-exclusive retreat has hosted VIPs and celebrities—namely Bill Gates and Tom Cruise.
EMBARK ON A JET-BOAT SAFARI
Hop aboard a high-speed jet boat that skims the glacier-fed Dart River as a charming local guide takes you deep into the wild.
PLAY GOLF ON A FROZEN GLACIER
Take a scenic helicopter ride through the towering Southern Alps before descending upon a frozen glacier, where your pilot will break out a bottle of champagne, a bag of clubs and eco-friendly balls.
INDULGE IN AN OFF-MENU MEAL
Leave the decisions to the experts during Amisfield Winery’s “Trust the Chef” four-course dining experience. They rely on seasonal ingredients for dishes like mushroom duxelles with enoki and house-made sourdough.
HELI-SKI WITH A CHARTERED CHOPPER
Feel the adrenaline rush of skiing pristine untracked snow, then break for a gourmet picnic lunch in the middle of a rolling mountain range.