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With a nickname like “adventure capital of the world,” it’s no surprise that Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island is known to accelerate visitors’ heart rates. On nearly any given day throughout the destination’s some 3,360 square miles, the bold and the brave bungee jump off bridges, paraglide through the sky and rappel down sheer cliffs.
But Queenstown’s greatest hits aren’t only in it for the thrill: I also found much-needed rest in luxury accommodations, nuanced flavors in local cuisine and many sights far more magnificent than I ever could have imagined.
EatOnce a hole in the wall, Fergburger has become an international celebrity (see Instagram’s 44,923 photos and counting that are hashtagged with #fergburger). Burgers are delicious and, yes, worth the line that regularly wraps around the block.
Options range from a classic take with prime New Zealand beef to creative interpretations featuring ingredients such as wild deer and boysenberry-onion chutney.
SleepThe early bird catches the worm at the nine-villa Azur Lodge, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts. Here, waking up with the sun means catching a spectacular pink sunrise over Lake Wakatipu from a private deck. Another extra-special vantage point is from the in-villa spa bathtub that’s strategically placed next to a bay window. (No need to worry: Complete privacy is one of the secluded hotel’s many pillars.)
View this post on Instagram A post shared by valerie chen adair (@valerielily) on Apr 19, 2019 at 1:33pm PDT
A post shared by valerie chen adair (@valerielily) on Apr 19, 2019 at 1:33pm PDT
Set on 3.5 acres of native bush land, Azur is undeniably lovely with its natural beauty and contemporary furnishings. However, it’s the exemplary service that demonstrates beyond doubt that a stay here is worth every penny. Without an on-site restaurant, Azur instead offers made-to-order breakfast, afternoon tea and pre-dinner drinks and canapes — all complimentary — in addition to an in-villa dining experience with dishes outsourced from top local restaurants. We often supped by our 800-square-foot villa’s fireplace.
Private transfers to and from downtown Queenstown and the airport are also included.
PlayFor an experience that puts New Zealand’s beauty front and center, clients should bask in the remote majesty that is Milford Sound. With razor-sharp cliffs tumbling down to inky-blue waters, this famous fjord is the outcome of millions of years of glacial movement.
From Queenstown, my partner and I took to clear skies — a lucky occasion, as the area is one of the wettest in the world — with local operator Air Milford. Afterward, we boarded a catamaran to explore the depths of Milford Sound up close.