Queenstown’s vibrant buzz continues an easy two-minute walk away in the Mall, where tables and chairs pack the street, not cars. Music flows from various venues along the street and people-watching is a must. Just across the road from the Mall a stream flows through a lovely green park, aptly named the Village Green, providing another great spot to watch Queenstown life go by. Stroll around any corner and you will find plenty more al fresco options to choose from, especially towards Queenstown Gardens and Steamer Wharf.
Take a fresh look at Queenstown from the opposite side of the lake on the Kelvin Peninsula. Catch the ferry across, bus or drive a pleasant 20-minute drive out to the peninsula. Dine outside at one of the local eateries in the Kawarau Village or pack a picnic and pick a spot along the lakefront trail to soak up some rays and take in the stunning views.
Named after the famous Maori pioneer Jack Tewa, and only a 20-minute drive from Queenstown, Jack’s Point offers quality local food and al fresco dining by Lake Tewa. Its 35km of walking and cycle tracks, which also link to the Kelvin Peninsula, offer many places for you to pause and admire the breath-taking views with a packed lunch.
Watch the hive of activity on the lake from one of the many bars and cafes on historic Steamer Wharf, or amble through the beautiful lakefront parks and gardens to find the perfect picnic spot. Catch the eclectic sound of buskers and browse through market stalls on weekends. There’s always something going on here.
Award-winning wineries and sunny picnic spots are only a five-minute drive away from Arrowtown by the gorgeous Lake Hayes. Known as the ‘mirror lake’, it was named Te Whaka-ata a Haki-te-kura by Maori in honour of the beautiful Haki-te-kura, whose image is said to be reflected in the lake. Sit in the sun at a winery and cool off in the tranquil lake waters, finding a secluded spot to relax beneath the willow trees, or walk or cycle around the lake to work up an appetite.
Gibbston's Valley of Vines
The Kawarau River that winds its way through Gibbston and marks an ancient Maori route between Cromwell and Queenstown. In the early 1980s the first grapevines were planted at Gibbston Valley winery and today valley is full of medal winning vineyards. A quick 10-minute drive from Arrowtown, or 25-minutes from Queenstown, Gibbston offers food and wine lovers delicious al fresco dining options. Or pack a lunch and follow in the footsteps of the intrepid Maori and European explorers along the Kawarau River on the Queenstown Trail.
Once a booming gold mining town, Arrowtown is now a beautifully preserved piece of New Zealand’s pioneering history a picturesque 20-minute drive from Queenstown. Sitting on the edge of the Arrow River, this busy little town offers a wide choice of fantastic al fresco dining options. You can bring a picnic or choose some bakery treats or a takeaway meal to enjoy by the river.
Enjoy the spectacular views from the foot of Lake Wakatipu in Kingston, a 45-minute drive from Queenstown. Once name Te Kere Haka, this former Maori village became a vital service centre for Queenstown during the region’s goldmining boom in the 1860s. Today this pretty township, with its relaxed vibe, provides a lovely al fresco setting. There are also some great picnic spots to discover along the drive down from Queenstown, just keep an eye out for the rest stop signs.
A centuries-old entrance way to the rich sources of pounamu (jade) for Maori, the northern tip of Lake Wakatipu has been a drawcard since the days of horse drawn wagons. Formerly only accessible to most people by boat or horse, the historic settlement is now a stunning 45-minute drive from Queenstown. Bring a snack and break up the journey along the way with a stop at Bob’s Cove, named after early European pioneer and skipper Bob Fortune. Glenorchy offers plenty of picnic spots, and several al fresco dining options. The heritage town is also the last chance to grab refreshments before heading inland to explore incredible native Beech tree forests, sparkling lakes and iconic walks in the beautiful valleys beyond in Mt Aspiring National Park.