There’s a reason Queenstown has developed a reputation as a millionaires’ playground. While New Zealand’s leading alpine resort has plenty to offer mere mortals, it also has some mind-blowing experiences designed to appeal to those with deeper pockets. Whether you’re keen on making fresh tracks on your own private ski field or picnicking on the edge of a mountain, you can do it in Queenstown – all while soaking in a magical backdrop of snow-capped peaks and vivid lakes.
Food with a view
With an unrivalled après-ski culture, there’s no shortage of award-winning places to eat and drink in Queenstown, but for a truly memorable experience how about a picnic on the side of a mountain? Over the Top helicopter company, run by legendary pilot Louisa “Choppy” Patterson, will pick you up and whisk you to a rocky mountain ledge with expansive views of Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps. There you’ll uncork champagne and work your way through a platter of meats, cheeses and fruit while taking in the staggering view.
If you’d prefer to stay on terra firma, book a private pinot noir tasting with a winemaker at one of Queenstown’s award-winning wineries through Black ZQN.
The inn crowd
Owned by wealthy philanthropist Sir Michael Hill, Lodge at The Hills has one of the most extensive private art collections in the country. Set in a glacial valley on the edge of Hill’s private par-72 golf course, it has a heated infinity pool, sauna, tennis court, bar, media room, helipad and room to sleep 12 guests. Book Lodge at The Hills through local concierge service Touch of Spice (which also arranges staff, including private chefs and personal guides).
Alternatively, stay at the 465sq m Owner’s Cottage at Matakauri Lodge, with its contemporary interiors (including New Zealand wool carpets created by Lord of the Rings costume designers) and a hot tub with point-blank views of the Remarkables mountain range. Named one of the 101 best hotels in the world by Tatler magazine, Matakauri is just a seven-minute drive from Queenstown.
The white stuff
If you’re keen to ski without the crowds but you’re not keen on heliskiing, Soho Basin is a great alternative. With 264ha and 500 vertical metres of pristine terrain a one-hour drive (or 10-minute helicopter flight) from Queenstown, this private ski field is suitable for low-intermediate through to advanced skiers and boarders. Eat a three-course lunch at a mountain hut prepared by host Daniel Kral (a chef at the highly regarded Amisfield winery) in between tackling leisurely, groomed runs or challenging off-piste skiing. No more than 24 skiers can use Soho Basin at once (or you can use it exclusively for NZ$15,000 a day).