After our journey through much of the South Island, we had arrived in Queenstown. I had heard many positive things about Queenstown, so I was excited to explore it for myself. There is incredible natural beauty here and our stay at the Hilton Queenstown was great.
After our stays at the Hilton Auckland, the Hilton Lake Taupo, now we were in Queenstown, the location of the 2 remaining Hilton properties in New Zealand. We stayed at the Hilton Queenstown, which is within the Kawarau Village development which also contains the Kawarau Hotel, which is managed by Hilton. The complex is located on the Frankton Arm of Lake Wakatipu, an easy 10 minutes by water taxi, or maybe 15-20 minutes driving from central Queenstown. The development is 3km from the Queenstown airport, adjacent to where the Kawarau river meets Lake Wakatipu.
While Hilton Hhonors is not my preferred hotel chain, I still maintain Gold status, and I'm glad we had some points in the account, since for this trip to New Zealand, it was probably our best option to use points for our stays. As I have reviewed, each of their NZ properties are lovely new facilities, and a good option for points redemptions. Currently neither Starwood nor Hyatt maintain any properties in New Zealand.
For our stay, this hotel was booked with points, 35,000 per night. We were upgraded to a Deluxe Lakeview room, which is available for 54,124 points per night or about NZ$100 per night more. Another case where an upgrade to a "deluxe" room was more than just a different name. This deluxe room was larger, with a fireplace, a large bathroom and a balcony overlooking the lake.
views of the large bedroom
spacious bathroom with dual sinks, a large tub and separate shower with rainfall shower head
fireplace below the TV
some of the art in the room, with the mini bar below
Our view from the balcony
Once we were parked and checked in, we took advantage of the water taxi service that runs directly from the hotel to Queenstown proper. This runs on a posted schedule, and there is a nominal fee. We found this to be simpler than driving over and searching for parking, and quite a bit faster since it is more direct to where we wanted to go. The view all around Queenstown was beautiful, but the countless souvenir shops were a little annoying. We walked around exploring the area, and eventually had some excellent Japanese food.
We also visited the Skyline gondola, which allowed for some incredible views of the area. They had the most intense looking bungee platform, however I did not partake in that. We did try out the luge at the top of the gondola. It was a fun, albeit more tame option.
Great view from the top of the gondola.
View of central Queenstown, with the Frankton arm in the upper left. The Hilton out of the picture, further to the left on the far side of the water. The Remarkables mountains are in the background.
Back at the Hilton, breakfast was provided with our reservation at the Wakatipu Grill. The restaurant had very modern design and excellent views of the lake plus a patio seating area with a fire pit. They also had a rather extensive wine list.
Entrance to the Wakatipu Grill
impressive wine cellar
There was an excellent selection of fresh items, including fruit, breads, pastries and a chef on hand with made to order omelets and waffles.
Coffee in New Zealand is serious business. Here is the ever-present espresso machine, at Wakatipu Grill
juicer available for self-serve custom blended juices
A new breakfast treat? Possibly an angrier version of the traditional Swiss breakfast.
The Queenstown Hilton was another modern new addition to the Hilton family in New Zealand. While the city itself didn't meet my own high expectations, the area is stunningly beautiful, and definitely worth a visit.
At the end of our stay in Queenstown, the driving portion of our trip was over, as we were flying to our next stop, in Christchurch. The airport is in a unique location, surrounded my mountains, with takeoffs heading out over the lake. There have been recent improvements at the airport designed to help with what used to be frequent delays in less than ideal weather conditions. I'll let you know more about that portion of my trip when I review my trip on Jetstar from Queenstown to Christchurch.
View above Queenstown, with the airport runway pointing towards the Frankton arm of the lake.