New Zealand has long been synonymous with its picturesque landscapes, majestic mountains, and rolling hills — which stretch on for acres and are dotted with flocks of sheep and cows. It’s no wonder, then, that many parts of the country were chosen as filming locales for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film series.
One of these places was Queenstown, an idyllic resort town facing Lake Wakatipu (the third-largest lake in New Zealand) and situated on the country’s South Island. Framed by crystal clear waters and towering peaks, its surrounding areas were used to depict the fictional Ford of Bruinen and Misty Mountains. Scenery aside, the town is also a popular spot for extreme sports such as bungee jumping and skydiving, and boasts a plethora of hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts.
But that’s not all that Queenstown’s known for. Recent years have seen more eateries and bars sprouting up, turning it into a thriving dining enclave. The town is also home to the much-hyped Fergburger, which opened in 2001 but only gained traction and media buzz in the last few years for its gourmet buns — which come with ingredients such as falafel, lamb and tempura tofu.
If you’re thinking of making a trip to Queenstown soon, here’s a guide to its must-try dining spots. From decadent burgers to charcoal-cooked meats and elevated pub grub, these 6 venues are definitely worth visiting.
It’s extremely easy to locate Fergburger along the bustling Shotover Street — just look out for the snaking queue right outside. Beloved for its hearty burgers, the casual joint is packed with customers even during off peak hours, so expect a two-hour wait to place your orders. Must-try burgers include Sweet Bambi (a combination of deer meat, Brie cheese and a sweet boysenberry-onion chutney), Little Lamby (lamb with mint jelly, aioli and tomato relish), and the super indulgent Big Al — a hulking bun crammed with two prime New Zealand beef patties, bacon, cheese, two eggs, beetroot, lettuce and aioli.
Fergburger, 42 Shotover Street, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand, +64 3 441 1232
Operating four cafés in Queenstown, Arrowtown and Wanaka, Patagonia Chocolates is very much a household name in New Zealand’s South Island. It makes its chocolates, ice cream, sorbet and yoghurt in-house, and serves only its own home-brewed coffee in its stores. Stop by its flagship outlet at Beach Street in Queenstown — which is within walking distance of the beach and Lake Wakatipu — and choose from some 20 flavours of ice cream, sorbet and frozen yoghurt. We recommend the Tramontana ice cream, a delicious blend of cream, caramel and butterscotch bits.
Patagonia Chocolates Queenstown, Lakefront, 50 Beach Street, Queenstown 9300, +64 03 442 9066
Inspired by an 1850s trading emporium, this gastropub carries an old-school vibe with its dark wood panelled walls, metal fixtures and framed pictures. There is also a giant stuffed bear placed along one of its corridors. The place is open throughout the day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but we advise heading over only in the evening, as that’s when local musicians take the stage with their covers of popular hits. Order one of its succulent steaks, or go for the scrumptious Bangers and Mash — comprising juicy sausages on a bed of fluffy potato and topped with sweet, caramelised onions — and round off your night with some cocktails and wine.
The Ballarat Trading Co, 7-9 Mall St, Queenstown 9348, New Zealand
Start your day right with breakfast at Joe’s Garage, which serves a wide variety of quirkily-named options such as Gorgeous George (smashed spuds with bacon, two grilled eggs and hollandaise sauce), Jose Burrito (a tortilla stuffed with bacon, egg, spinach, baked beans and caramelised onions) and Oriental Joe — where beef slices are marinated in soy, chilli and garlic, and paired with a sweet chilli, lime and ginger dressing garnished with crispy noodles. The café is also open for lunch and dinner, and runs several other branches across New Zealand.
Joe’s Garage, Searle Ln, Town Centre, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand, +64 3 442 5282
Situated in a 150-year-old heritage building furnished with industrial-chic exposed brick walls and raw metal balustrades, Coalfire is a laid-back eatery that specialises in meat-centric dishes. Its pork, beef and lamb are obtained from Otago and Southland, and are cooked low and slow over fiery coals for a smoky flavour. Noteworthy options include the Angus beef with truffle butter, and pulled pork sandwich — which is filled with tender pork smothered in melted mozzarella and bourbon barbecue sauce.
Coalfire, 15 Ballarat Street, The Mall, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand, +64 3 442 8439
Be sure to grab a window seat at this elegant restaurant, which is accessible by gondola and offers awe-inspiring views of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range. It’s open for lunch and dinner, and serves an extensive buffet of meats, seafood and salads, which are prepared using local seasonal produce. Wash these down with the restaurant’s selection of cocktails, beers, and New Zealand wines, and take your time to enjoy the incredible view.
Stratosfare Restaurant Queenstown, Skyline Queenstown, Brecon Street, Queenstown 9348, New Zealand