Meet Amy, a bundle of happiness, travel-obsessed photographer, designer and social media manager who 18 months ago packed up her bag and started adventuring on the other-side of the globe. Amy travelled around Cuba, Indonesia and everywhere in between before settling down with her now fiancé in beautiful Queenstown, New Zealand, a life long dream since her first visit to the town eight years ago.
We sat down with Amy to get the scoop on why this scenic city has her heart forever, with her recommendations on the best things to see, do, eat and drink. In true photographer style, all the pictures in this piece are taken by Amy herself – check out more of her incredible work at Amy Chapple Photography.
What is a typical breakfast and where would you go?
The cafe game is strong in QT and the most creatively-presented, health-conscious and downright delicious food can be found just on the outskirts of town at Bespoke Kitchen.
Being dubbed the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ most things in Queenstown are planned around activities and one not to be missed is the Skyline Gondola which transports you straight up to ‘that’ view of Queenstown and a head start up to the Ben Lomond mountain trail. The gondola entrance is perfectly situated just minutes from Bespoke Kitchen, so you can grab a seasonal veggie hash or smash a decent coffee before tackling the mountains.
Where is your favourite place to grab lunch?
Lunch is usually an on-the-go affair, with a day off always being packed to the brim with adventure and photo-taking. A full day ahead warrants a decent fuelling, preferably in the form of a mean-ass pie, and Ferg Baker is the place. If pie isn’t your thing (why it wouldn’t be?) you can pick up all sorts of wonders in the form of delicious baked goods and the richest of coffee.
Otherwise, if the hunger levels are up and we’re sticking around town we’d grab a takeaway from Hawker and Roll, a Malaysian street food chain, and head down to the waterfront to devour it.
What is the ideal afternoon activity in a city like Queenstown?
Keeping on the topic of food and drink, naturally, on a perfect afternoon in Queenstown you’ll be likely to find us hanging out aboard on the top deck of Perky’s Floating Bar with friends. The ideal location for a card game with drinks and killer sunset views over the lake and mountains. Perky’s allows you to bring your own food aboard which we’d always take full advantage of, grabbing a gigantic pizza from Fat Badgers, just across town on the way there.
Where is the best place for dinner?
Mixing Pacifica with Asian cuisine, Blue Kanu has created the ultimate super-cuisine which they call “Polynasia”, and it’s as delicious as it sounds!
I’m big on customer service and these guys are honestly, the best in town. The Maori art, cool colour scheme and mood lighting create the perfect atmosphere and the cocktails look and taste like a work of art themselves.
And if you’re lucky enough to visit when the insanely talented, and friendliest cocktail artist, Larry, is working, he’ll be sure to put a smile on your face.
Being a bit of a savvy saver, I’d always check FirstTable.com a few days ahead to see if there’s any tables free when we’re out going out for dinner. The New Zealand based site is partnered with heaps of restaurants which give a generous 20-50% off the first tables of the service.
In the evening what is the city like and where do you usually find yourself?
Evenings in Queenstown are buzzing! I’d find a spot with a decent view of the sunset, usually around the wharf area at either Public, Atlas Beer Cafe or Little Blackwood, depending on who has the best outdoor table available.
After a few pre-drinks I would head to Yonder, which is where the fun really starts. With the funkiest interior, most thirst-quenching cocktails, heated outdoor area and a weekly switch up of awesome (and some rather famous) DJ’s, Yonder is the place for your late night shenanigans. Visit on one of their event nights and you could find yourself being serenaded by some sweet acoustic due, laughing your ass off to some open-mic comedy, or cringing at one of their Story Slam nights.
In a busy city, is there anywhere to chill?
The town welcomes over 3.3 million visitors a year so as you can imagine, it gets pretty busy! However, take a little wander down to Queenstown Gardens and you can find yourself immersed in nature within minutes. Surrounded by huge Douglas Fur trees and pristine green lawns, its my go-to place for a little unwind with a book. The park edge meets the lake and you can walk right around the park perimeter and carry onto the Queenstown trail for awe-worthy views of The Remarkables mountain range.
Is there anything a little bit fun and different in your city to do/ see?
Queenstown is full to the brim with incredible and unique experiences but more than anything, it’s the other-worldly landscapes which we appreciate the most. Tonnes of Lord of the Rings movie scenes were filmed in the area and it’s easy to see why.
Whenever we’d have friends visit, we’d take a drive up to one of ski fields and watch their jaws drop over the breathtaking views as our little van climbed. With vast mountains and snowy tips reaching as far as the eye can see, crystal blue glacier lakes and rivers running through the land and a wash of the seasons colours, painting the land, it’s impossible not to fall in love.
Where is the best area to stay/sleep for young travellers?
Being a hot destination for young thrill seekers, Queenstown has an abundance of hostels. Whether you’re staying for a weekend or staying for a season, there’s heaps of choice at affordable costs.
For those doing the great New Zealand road trip, there’s lots of options for powered and unpowered motorhome parks. Naturally, the more central, the more expensive. However, there are a couple of stunning DOC (Department of Conservation) sites that just so happen to be Lord of the Rings shoot locations too, just a short (but stunning) drive out of town.
What season would you recommend to visit?
Otago, the state in which Queenstown lies, is blessed with all four flourishing seasons which all come with their own distinctive beauty. Although the colours of autumn in Otago produce are a literal dream for any photographer, it has to be winter for me.
Waking up to snowy tipped mountains just bring all sorts of magic and the anticipation of waiting for the surrounding ski fields to be adorned with enough snow for play is an excitement like no other.
The Queenstown Winter Festival kicks the season off with a weekend full of fun and celebrations. Down on the waterfront, guests are welcomed with a Mihiwhakatau (a customary welcome speech) and the famous Māori Haka performance, followed by a live music and games in both the town and up the ski fields.
The town itself, come wintertime, is in full après-ski mode, with log fires burning and the bitter sweet smell of mulled wines and ciders filling the streets.
There is honestly, nothing quite like Queenstown in the wintertime.
Is your city is best for family holiday / friends holiday / couple holiday ?
Queenstown is for everyone! Having worked in hospitality in Queenstown, it’s clear to see its a big destination for family holidays. Its a huge destination wedding location too, so you get heaps of people flying over to see their loved ones get hitched, and then stay for a holiday too.
I first visited with friends in my early twenties, so can absolutely vouch for it being on point for bucket list travel. It’s dubbed the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ and the home of the bungy jump. Theres skydiving and jet boating and zip lining. You can go white water rafting, skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, canyoning, hiking. And after all the excitement of the day, join a bar crawl and ride the mechanical bull! The excitement is endless.
This time round, I’ve been living here as a couple on a working holiday visa. We’ve taking things slower, hiking more and exploring all of the hidden places only locals usually experience. Working while enjoying this incredible town long term means we’ve been able to splurge a little more with our favourite pastime being a nice soak with lapping up the Shooter valley views at Onsen Hot Pools.
It really is the place for anyone – any age, any status. Whether you’re travelling alone, with friends, family or your partner. Its a dream destination that will honestly, blow you away.