Have you ever read or heard about the Greco-Roman myth about the lotus-eaters? If not, it’s about the companions of Odysseus, who, while living on the Libyan coast ate some fruit of the lotus plant. After doing so they entered a state of dreaminess that led to a perfect, empty-headed contentment and an immediate loss of desire to return home. This is what Queenstown does to you, and you don’t have to eat anything to enter such a state. When you arrive in Queenstown you become a lotus-eater, doomed (or some might say privileged) to stay there forever content with everything and anything. Even as your wallet drains and the realization that a job or apartment won’t be opening up anytime soon you continue to be content with staying put.
That’s certainly how we felt anyways. We ended up returning to Queenstown four times, and our wallets would tell you that was one too many times. It’s hard to avoid this place, Queenstown has everything we could ever want (and most people for that fact), hiking, snowboarding, great food, great coffee, lake views, water sports, and a diverse culture and community that ties it all together. It’s a mountain sanctuary, and if you ask anyone else who has been there they will tell you the same we’re sure of it. Now the downfall of this seemingly perfect town? We have already stated it, everyone else loves it too. Which means finding a job or an apartment to sustain a lifestyle here is nearly impossible and requires perfect timing and luck. We found that our early on and yet held out faith that maybe just maybe we would be one of the lucky ones, our lotus-eater status was fortified.
As we mentioned our wallets would tell you we visited one too many times, Queenstown is expensive.
Because everyone goes there and everyone loves it, so they’ll pay whatever price they have to.
It’s so popular it’s like falling into a pit of quick sand that sucks your money from your wallet, the more you squirm and attempt to avoid the high prices the deeper in debt you become. Second reason, it’s known as the adventure capital of the world and there is plenty to do to keep entertained here. We didn’t even end up doing any of these activites because the prices ranged anywhere from $150-$400. There were so many other things we wanted to do and experience while travelling we couldn’t justify spending such an exuberant amount of cash on one thing.
Perhaps you’re wondering what there is to do here well you can jet boat, bungee jump, sky dive, paraglide, 4×4, go on a helicopter tour, ski and snowboard (winter months only of course), and the list goes on and on. If you want to do something adventurous this is your town.
None the less we enjoyed as much of the town as we could without participating in something adrenaline pumping by experiencing it’s food, hiking, Sunday markets and of course it’s Lord of the Rings locations.
We ate so much food and that’s probably the main reason why we noticed a quick decline in our bank accounts (so I guess you could say we ate from the lotus plant), for our recommendations on the best places to eat in Queenstown head here. If we wrote it all down here it would be a much longer post than probably anyone is willing to read (even us).
Hiking, YAY! Probably one of our favorite activities. Nothing is better than exploring the outdoors. We combined our love of hiking and our love of all things LOTR and went searching for some filming locations that were hikes (for more filming locations go here), which led us to Twelve Mile Delta, the area where they filmed the Ithilien Camp (aka, where Frodo and Sam see Elephants). Two for one deal at it’s best. We picked the Bob’s Cove track, about two hours return. The track is pretty diverse for something so short, it takes you through a rocky river area with a semi-hidden waterfall that feeds a deep cavern of beautiful blue-green water. Following the track we went through beautiful forests with old stone houses and openings with rocky beaches to enjoy Lake Wakitipu in the summer months. At the end it takes you high up above the lake edge and showcases the area in a full 360 and on one side is Bob’s Cove the other is Wakitipu seperated by a stretch of trees. It’s truly remarkable, and on the way down you can stop and lay on the rocky cliff overlooking Twelve Mile Delta and hop you don’t see any Elephants yourself (because well that would be fairly terrifying especially if they were part of an evil army).
Our final day in Queenstown (after many failed attempts to leave) gifted us with a Sunday market. The main waterfront area fills up with stands selling a variety of things, from jewelry to cupcake looking soaps (we thought they were real so you could imagine our excitement to eat some cupcakes only to get it smashed by the realization it was soap), and from tarot card readers to live local music. This day showcased how much culture one little town can have.
It made us feel at home to be in Queenstown and perhaps that’s why it was so hard to leave. It was like a little piece of the Rocky Mountain towns had followed us across the ocean.