Husky sledding at Snow Farm in collaboration with UnderDog. Photo / Supplied

Where To Eat, Shop & Stay Next Time You're In Queenstown

In need of a winter weekend getaway, Sarah Downs heads to Queenstown

I’m high — figuratively speaking — on top of Coronet’s soaring peaks. The glacial air is whipping, fresh snow has just fallen to create a soft, pillowy layer, and even at the crack of dawn, the slopes are hooning with energy. Disclaimer: I’m one of those infrequent "Auckland-raised" skiers (bruises to come later) but it’s all bloody marvellous. As are other moments, both adrenaline-pumping and luxurious, during this weekend in Queenstown. In August, the town comes alive for Clicquot in the Snow, a month-long celebration of champagne experiences, of which I’m also rather fond.

READ: Where To Eat & Drink Next Time You're In Sydney

WHAT TO DO
Ski, obviously. Coronet Peak is the closest to Queenstown, a 20-minute drive (and where you’ll find the Veuve Clicquot Apres Ski Bar), followed by The Remarkables and Cardrona, all of which are popular ski fields. For an alternative sprint around the mountains, and for the first time this year, the Clicquot in the Snow itinerary includes husky sledding at Snow Farm in collaboration with UnderDog, which is equal parts adorable and unforgettable. Steer a four-dog sled through the high trails of the Southern Alps, or recline and ride along in the basket with an experienced musher. Snow Farm also offers snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and the chance to stay overnight in one of the backcountry huts. If you’re looking for an after-dark activity, the Clicquot Stargazing Experience will see you ride a gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak, for an evening of stargazing and champagne sipping — romantic as can be. Snowfarmnz.com; Underdognz.co.nz; Clicquotinthesnow.co.nz

The Sherwood. Photo / Supplied

WHERE TO STAY
One good option is the stylish Hilton Queenstown is a 10-minute drive from the airport on the edge of Lake Wakatipu. The township is a short drive, or water taxi, away. Embrace an apres-ski vibe via the hotel’s lobby fire and Wakatipu Grill and Bar — both spots for sipping champagne. Those returned from outdoor pursuits can tend to aching muscles with a massage in the spa, Eforea, or enjoy a "flute and facial", with a glass of Veuve Clicquot to finish. For a little more than accommodation, The Sherwood hotel mixes luxury with wellbeing. Created by the people behind Wellington’s Matterhorn and Auckland’s now-closed Golden Dawn, the 1980s repurposed motor lodge includes an on-site restaurant using produce from the vege garden, organic and craft wines, and a yoga studio. Hipster heaven. Hilton.com/Queenstown; Clicquotinthesnow.co.nz; Sherwoodqueenstown.nz

(From left) Rata long lunch; Chef Ben Bayly at Aosta. Photos / Supplied

WHERE TO EAT
The latest drawcard to Queenstown’s dining scene is Aosta, with chef Ben Bayly plating up refined Italian in charming Arrowtown. The restaurant is named after an Italian town Ben (Baduzzi, The Grove) spent time visiting in his 20s, which has a similar climate and latitude to that of Central Otago. He’s using Northern Italian techniques to showcase local produce. Then there’s Rata, one of celebrity chef Josh Emett’s original ventures, where the thoughtful menu takes inspiration from the southern landscape — a cheese roll is a signature. It’s also the spot for the Clicquot Long Lunch, where Rata’s hero dishes are paired with Veuve. For a quick bite, skip the line for a goliath-sized Ferg Burger in place of Taco Medic; an epic hole-in-the-wall taco joint. If you’re stopping by Arrowtown, nab a famous sticky caramel bun at Provisions cafe. Further out, Amisfield Winery & Bistro serves the ultimate mix of local food, wines, and spectacular views out to Lake Hayes. Aosta.nz; Ratadining.co.nz; Tacomedic.co.nz; Amisfield.co.nz

The Lodge Bar. Photo / Supplied

WHERE TO DRINK
Not to be under-estimated by its location (attached to a Rod & Gunn Store), The Lodge Bar oozes sophistication with a fireplace, leather armchairs and floor-to-ceiling glass doors offering amazing views of Lake Wakatipu. The food is equally impressive, with cheese boards, moreish sourdough toasts and larger plates such as tender rib-eye. The chef is Matt Lambert, of Michelin-starred New York restaurant The Musket Room, and it also boasts a wine list by Cameron Douglas, currently New Zealand’s only Master Sommelier. Elsewhere, iconic Eichardt’s Private Hotel bar is a long-standing hotspot for drinks and tapas. Sit by the fireplace with one of the house cocktails and watch the sun set behind the Southern Alps. Lodgebar.roddandgunn.com; Eichardtsdining.com

Angel Divine store. Photo / Supplied

WHERE TO SHOP
Slow Concept Store has become a destination spot with a selection of fashion and homewares that focus on enduring quality. Much of the furniture is sourced from Scandinavia, including Frama, New Works, and Bolia. Clothing labels include local Kowtow as well as imports such USA’s Nili Lotan, which has the same minimalist, ethical values. A plant-based eatery and Danish-inspired coffee studio is upstairs. Queenstown fashion institution Angel Divine remains stocked with designer labels, both established New Zealand designers and cool, up-and-coming labels, including Georgia Alice, Paris Georgia, and Twenty-Seven Names. Seletti Concept Store also has a high-end roster of brands, both international, such as Anine Bing and Ganni and closer to home, Zimmermann and Karen Walker. Slowstore.co.nz; Angeldivine.co.nz; Seletticonceptstore.com

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