The region’s breath-taking landscape and love of adventure has had an impact on the gourmet food and beverage culture. You won’t find hum-drum dining experiences here. Discover extraordinary gourmet food experiences which speak to the breath-taking landscapes and fascinating people who make Queenstown truly special.
Here's six immersive gourmet food and beverage experiences that are uniquely Queenstown.
Pie Pint & Pinot, Akarua Arrowtown Autumn Festival
Pie, Pint and Pinot Festival
Every April, the trees in the old gold mining town of Arrowtown become a riot of orange, yellow and gold. The end of summer and the beginning of the very colourful autumn season is celebrated with a series of quirky and fun events at the Akarua Arrowtown Autumn Festival. It’s worth going for the gourmet food and wine events alone – with a market day and autumn-inspired long lunches.
The event provides an ideal opportunity to meet the makers behind some of Queenstown's most well known and loved food and beverage businesses. Wander the stalls and meet local brewers like those behind Queenstown-based Altitude Brewing and Canyon Brewing. It’s also an annual pilgrimage for under-the-radar brewers like Tom “the Pom” Jones, who started his career with Richard Emerson (founder of Emerson’s brewery) and went on to create an organic beer brand, as well as gold-medal winning brews.
Come prepared for wild venison, dessert pies and curry pies the likes of which you’ve never experienced before. Queenstown chefs and bakers use the opportunity to flex their pie-making flair. Restaurants like Slow Cuts and Mantra Indian restaurant offer up pastry-wrapped versions of their favourite dishes. Save room for artisan sweet pies like those from Zest Cakes Queenstown.
“The concept behind that event is to match craft beers with delicious pies of varying flavours. People can come along and try lots of different pies and beers and of course, we have our lovely Akarua wines there too,” says festival organiser Carole Watts.
PSA: your ticket includes a tasting glass, make sure you put it to good use!
Executive Chef Vaughan Mabee foraging for watercress
Trust the Chef
Top chefs from around the world have made Queenstown their home, each offering more gourmet and rustic food experiences than you can shake a fork at. Don’t ponder over a menu or get food envy, let the chef choose for you.
Amisfield Bistro has received global recognition for its Trust the Chef degustation-style menu matched with Amisfield wines. What’s unique about Amisfield’s menu is how the produce is procured. They’ve taken the unusual step to hire a professional forager, Peter Langlands, and Amisfield’s chefs have been trained to find wild foods too.
“We forage almost every day,” says Amisfield’s Richard Birkby, “particularly in late summer and autumn, you’ll find things like elderflower and fathen. Much of it is naturally wild, other foods you find are connected to the history of the region, like the plums and other fruit trees planted in Arrowtown by the gold miners.”
“Our forager, Peter, works closely with our Executive Chef Vaughan Mabee to find something that’s fresh and different. We’ve recently had elderflower ice cream on the menu, there’s often mushroom dishes in autumn and quail served with the miners’ plums was a recent favourite.
“Foraging makes it harder to put together our ever-changing menu, but it also makes it special, interesting and always fresh. Here at Amisfield we’re dedicated to making organic wines with local ingredients because we believe this enables the land to speak through the wines. It’s the same with the food and we wouldn’t want to pair our wines with anything less exciting.”
Locally made Stir Tea at Remarkables Market
The Remarkables Market is another opportunity to meet local growers, producers and crafts people. Held every Saturday morning during the warmer months (9am – 2pm, October – April), you’ll find a plethora of gourmet food experiences here. Bakers and makers, growers and brewers gather at the Frankton-based market to share their newest and freshest produce.
Get excited about local growers like Gibbston Microgreens, who use innovative ‘vertical growing’ techniques to grow microgreens in a more sustainable way.
Producers from small South Island towns travel to Queenstown to share their gourmet food offerings. There’s the delectable Whitestone cheeses, which are handcrafted in Oamaru. Then there’s Welcome Rock Gardens who bring fresh carrots, kale and other delicious spray-free veggies from their market garden in Garston.
Remarkables Market is aiming to be the first waste-free market in New Zealand. Many of the stall holders are environmentally-minded, producing, growing and creating in a way which has a more gentle impact on our beautiful environment. Grab a clean ceramic mug and take it to any coffee or beverage outlet, then pop it into one of the buckets provided when you’re done. Don’t forget to bring a re-useable bag, too.
Tour with winemaker Christopher Keys
Wine tasting, cave tour and lunch at Gibbston Valley Winery
It all started with journalist and wine enthusiast Alan Brady in the early ‘80s. He moved to Gibbston (just 30 minutes from Queenstown) and decided to do something different with his backyard. Despite the expert consensus saying the region was too cold to produce wine, Alan planted grapes. He soon discovered that the dry days and cool nights, mountainous terrain and unusual soil makeup are perfect for producing pinot noir and several white wine varieties. More than 30 years on and Alan’s Gibbston Valley Winery is at the centre of a local industry that’s become world-renowned for its award-winning wines.
The winery’s wine cave, carved by Alan Brady himself from the side of a schist rock mountain, is the largest in New Zealand. The cave’s temperature and humidity mean it’s perfect for maturing wine. Take a tour and taste some of Gibbston Valley’s wines (and gourmet cheeses) here, whilst learning more about how Gibbston's unique climate shapes the flavours and compositions of the wines. You’ll also be able to take a peek at the winemaking facilities to see how grapes on the vine are transformed into a bottle of the region’s best tipple.
No visit is complete without enjoying the gourmet food available at the winery restaurant. Executive Chef Anthony Gradiska carefully selects local ingredients to form a menu that reflects the local environment and matches the wines. Think wild rabbit lasagne, Southland scotch fillet and local cheeses with walnut sourdough.
My Private Chef - Fabien Simon
Ever wanted to kick your culinary skills up a notch? Chef Fabien Simon will show you how to create gourmet food experiences in his home kitchen in Jack’s Point. Book your own private masterclass and watch Chef Fabien prepare and cook dishes for you, sharing his gourmet cooking secrets along the way. There’s a range of themed menus available, which are customisable to your dietary requitements and preferences – from culinary basics, to French bistronomie and exploring spice.
Chef Fabien moved to the region more than 12 years ago and says he started the cooking classes to offer a “fun and educational masterclass”.
“Knowing how to create great food is an important skill and it’ll continue to be important. I like taking the time to teach people, for me it’s that sense of legacy that everyone looks for. I want people to become better and push their boundaries.
“People get caught up in modern life and they end up eating carb-heavy foods that aren’t very healthy. I want to show people how to value and prioritise their food again, though cooking with fresh, local and seasonal produce.”
Bee a Beekeeper at Buzzstop
Spin your own honey
Just 10 minutes from the centre of Queenstown in a rustic, converted sheep-shearing shed is the Buzzstop Bee and Honey Centre. The delicious honey-inspired café and gift shop also offers a sweet visitor experience – the opportunity to be a bee keeper for an afternoon and walk away with your very own jar of honey.
Nick Cameron is the founder and general manager at Buzzstop, a third-generation bee keeper who’s passionate about beekeeping and everything his amazing little bees produce. Not content to simply sell honey and beeswax products through the café and shop, Nick encourages people to get hands-on in the process.
You’ll don a beekeeping suit and learn about beehives and how a bee colony creates honey. Then, it’s then time to get sticky; remove the capping from a frame to reveal the sweet honey underneath and then watch the honey being spun. The final step is to filter your honey and put it in a jar personalised with your picture, to savour at home. Nick will guide you through each step and the experience is suitable for children and adults.
After the tough work of being a beekeeper, refuel in the café. There’s a honey-themed menu, made complete with local craft beers and great coffee.
So, what are you waiting for? Dive into a whole new world of gourmet food experiences in Queenstown.