We left Lake Takapo and made our way to Queenstown. The thing about road tripping through New Zealand is that making pit stops is super easy and when you get off the main road, it doesn’t take much to get back to where you need to go and be on your way. We made a few other pit stops in small towns on our way to Queenstown so that we could grab a snack or go to the bathroom. I feel like New Zealand was made for road tripping and making your way through that country at your own leisurely pace. Bathrooms, pit stops, rest stops, etc are easy to find. You’ll also notice that they don’t like people driving tired and there are so many billboards that tell you to pull over if you’re tired. You truly cannot go far without running into another rest stop. We arrived in Queenstown at our Airbnb. We actually ended up staying on the south side of the lake across from the city itself in Kelvin Heights so we were a little far from all the fun that was happening. We settled into our Airbnb and then wandered down to the lake.
Some fun facts about Queenstown is that there are only about 20,000 people who actually live in this town/city but on average they see about 2 million people a year from tourism. It is the adrenaline junkie capital of the southern hemisphere with the bungee jumping, sky diving and various outdoor activities that within minutes of city center. The lake that Queenstown surrounds is huge and great for all sorts of water related activities. When we walked down, we saw row boats, kayaks and smaller boats docked all along the lake and children swimming by the shore. There’s also a great running trail just above the lake that you can wander around. We saw so many people running, biking and just walking around these area. If I had a chance to spend more time in Queenstown, I would definitely have run this area and just hang out along the lake. It’s more of a suburb of Queenstown so less of the tourist activities but definitely more relaxed and you can get a great view of the city.
That night we drove around the lake, past the airport and into the city center. Parking in that area can be a bit difficult. We drove up to the north side of the city closer to one of the schools and parked in that area. It was a little bit of a hike into city center but it was easier to park than trying to stay close to the lake. Being in the city center during the summer is great because the sun takes a bit to set and so there are people out at all hours of the day. There are a bunch of hostels that are in the heart of Queenstown so if you get a chance to stay there, I would recommend it. We wandered around the city center for a bit and checked out some of the tourist information centers. If you need to plan a trip or activities, check out those information centers. They’re all around the city center and they have booking information to get out of Queenstown to do day (or longer) trips for Milford Sound and to other lakes. There’s a great little walking street that you can check out with lots of restaurants and a Pita Pit. Yes, I care about that because they have taken all of the Pita Pits away in Seattle. And no, I did not eat at Pita Pit while I was there even though I was tempted to for my second dinner.
We went to a quaint little Thai restaurant (yes, Thai) near the lake and had our dinner. The thing I noticed about New Zealand is that there isn’t a lot of “local” cuisine that you need to try while you are there unless you are in a bigger city. Granted, New Zealand isn’t quite known for their food and more for their activities. After dinner, we headed back to our Airbnb and settled in for the night. We were in for a big journey to Milford Sound the next day.