18 Hours in Queenstown, New Zealand

We spent Christmas 2017 in New Zealand. During the past week I've found my mind repeatedly drifting to to that once-in-a-lifetime adventure, our epic road trip around the south island, and one especially memorable day in Queenstown. 

It's day two of our road trip. A warm breakfast in the communal camp kitchen, a three hour drive, and several lawless rounds of the game 20 questions have us arriving in Queenstown in time for a late lunch. I am in the hangry zone. 
We've parked at our airbnb, while Katie checks us in the boys hop up onto a wall. I require their help to get up, and we laugh and it rejuvenates me. Later we laugh that the boys helped me conquer both a physical and mental wall. Now I notice that the landscape and surrounding hills are incredible, and the building is lovely. 
After we've settled into our rental, we head out for lunch and have burgers at Devil Burger, opting not to wait in an hour long line for the legendary Fergburger, my friends know me better than that. Between a good burger and exploring a few city blocks, I'm ready to see what adventures Queenstown has for us. 

And our first destination is quite an adventure, indeed. We ride a gondola up into the hills and get an amazing view of the city and the mountains; Katie tells me the range is called The Remarkables (the name fits). As we walk out onto a platform we see thrill seekers running off the cliffs, hang-gliding out into the open air above the bay. 
But our thrill has just begun. We ride a ski lift even higher up the hill. 
We are at Luge Queenstown, and our friends tell us this is just like Mario Kart. We are going to sit in these little carts and steer them in a downhill race. And I'm excited, but I'm a wimp. As we go through the tutorial, the question I repeatedly ask is how to break. I make sure I listen when they tell us which lane is the slow lane. 
 And off we go! 7 rounds later and we are thoroughly luged. I even got bold enough to take the intermediate route. We scream through the tunnels and laugh as we pull tight corners. 
On our way back to our airbnb we stop at this New Zealand legend called Cookie Time. I am in love at first sight. We have cookies and ice cream and I sit in a cookie car, and no saying expresses it better than I am living my best life. 
 A dinner of Christmas leftovers and a little freshening up at our rental and we are set out to the marvel of the ice bar. In the room temperature lobby we are given parkas, gloves, Uggs, and safety precautions. 

Inside the bar is a spectacle of pumping music, decadent ice sculptures, glowing lights, and ice-themed cocktails served in giant ice cube glasses. It's absolutely fabulous. 
 At first we think there's really no going up from the ice bar and think we'll go to just one more bar we have a coupon for. They give us a coupon for another place, and just like that we're sipping wine dockside.
We are feeling so relaxed in our adventures, friendship, and the freedom of this Queenstown evening. Are we wild enough to grab the leftover appetizer plate from the empty table next to us and enjoy the wafer crackers? Yes, yes we are. 
The next bar is fancy, and we are too goofy and loud, then we find a totally empty bar where we play pool. Katie says let's head back. But we take one last walk around the block, and dance music is pulsing from a cottage-style bar front. We simply can't resist. The next hour is all dancing to early 2000's throwbacks and an excellent DJ, and that glorious mix of delight and fatigue. 
We walk back to our airbnb giddy and exhausted. We all collapse on the couch and laugh and talk and bare our souls until it is beyond late. In the morning, we somehow all feel great. Justin says he knows it was a good night when he somehow slept in jeans. Showers, breakfast, packing, and our road trip commences as we leave Queenstown behind full of sweet, hilarious, sleep-deprived memories.
I often find myself drifting back to that once-in-a-lifetime 18 hours in Queenstown. 
If I could relive a day, it just might be that one. 
Do you have a super memorable day of travel? Where? 
For more New Zealand amazingness, check out my Christchurch post and Views from the North Island of New Zealand


  1. What incredible views from the top of that hill! Sounds like a fantastic trip there. I've never been but it's on my list!

  2. How fun! I love your boldness and "going intermediate" on the luging! Go girl! You only live once!!! :)

  3. OMG Kelsey! I used to live in New Zealand during college and Queenstown was my favorite weekend vacations! This was so fun reading your post and seeing the photos, especially of the luge and the ice bar as I remember both very clearly. Wow, time flies...I would love to go back soon. I am glad you had a wonderful time!

  4. Wow you packed a lot of activity into your the time there and each of the activities are so unique!

  5. New Zealand is definitely on my bucket list! It looks so gorgeous!!

    <3 Shannon 
    Upbeat Soles

  6. What an amazing trip!! I've always wanted to go to an ice bar - such a unique experience!


Feel free to comment! I'd love to hear your thoughts.