The Snow Gauge

Running the rule over the ski & snowboard industry since 1995

Queenstown and the $9 avocado

Posted by on May 25, 2018 in New Zealand | 1 comment


With the exchange rate the avocados were a fare more affordable $8.60 each

Well that was a shock.

I was there last month and while it’s hard not to love Queenstown it’s also hard to ignore how expensive it’s getting.

Yes there was the $9 avocado, but also flights which per mile travelled are some of the most expensive in the world. Accommodation ain’t cheap (a pretty average 2 bedder for $1500 in low season anyone?). And those adventure activities? You may well be gasping at the price as much as high octane thrills.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Anyone who’s been knows its a majestic and fun place so the trick is to find a few gems that might save you a some dollars on your next trip.

Here’s my five money savers:

Queenstown buses

1. Bravo, Otago Regional Council. The last thing Queenstown’s jam-packed roads needed was more cars; instead it has got four new, cheap and convenient bus services around the region. Starting in November last year the key routes include from Fernhill and downtown Queenstown to the airport, the gorgeous Arrowtown to Arthurs Point and Lake Hayes to Jacks Point. After purchasing the card for $NZ5 (and you’ll only need one card per family) each individual trip costs just $2. There are also free connections in the first 30 minutes. Buses are frequent, run late in the night, have wifi and can take plenty of luggage/ski gear. Perhaps all is needed is now is say a $5 service to Coronet Peak and The Remarkables in winter.

Warehouse sim card

Not Queenstown specific but a must-have for cheap communication when here, and across NZ. For $NZ4 you can get a data only sim with 500MB. Used judiciously in conjunction with wifi you could just about squeeze a week’s use out of it. Better still, grab one for each member of your group and you can all contact each other for free. Upgrades are cheap. While not available in downtown Queenstown there’s a Warehouse at the Five Mile Centre in Frankton, just a $2 bus ride away.

Warehouse Five Mile

Speaking of which, if you need any other gear while away, this is the place to get it on the cheap. Kind of like a Big W, you can pick up that winter gear that you may not use again, sneakers, headphones, travel goods, fishing gear and a 1001 other things at prices you’re unlikely to ever see in Queenstown proper. It’s open from 7am until midnight too so you can comfortably work in a trip before or after your ski day.

Pedros House of Lamb

As noted with the world’s most expensive avocados, food can set you back quite a bit in the town of Queens if you’re not too careful. That said there are a number places to get your fill without breaking the bank. Top of the list would be Pedros House of Lamb, an easy 10 minute walk from the centre of town. The concept is fiendishly simple: cook a shoulder of the country’s favourite meat with some buttery potatoes. And that’s it. The only other food you can get there is a garden salad (one size) and some crusty rolls. We did just that and for $NZ59 ($NZ45 for the lamb and potatoes) it fed four people perfectly. When your menu is that basic it needs to deliver and it deliciously did.

Kawarau Jet Boat

The price of activities can quickly and very seriously add up in Queenstown so you’ll need to pick and choose what you want to do in order not to break the bank. Kawarau Jet Boat (KJet) offers great value right on the banks of Lake Wakatipu. We managed a one adult/child combo for the 1 hour high speed ride for $NZ129. It’s an offer that is not always available but invariably they have some kind of special going which is usually cheaper than their competitors. A close second is the Skyline Gondola and 5-ride luge combo at $60 adults/$50 children.

The Snow Gauge travelled independently to Queenstown.


1 Comment

  1. Queenstown has to be very careful it doesn’t completely price it self out of the market.

    We decided against going to Queenstown this year & instead going to Colorado in mid January, because it’s much much cheaper.

    The airfare to the west cost is about the same cost as flying to Queenstown in August (roughly $800 for both). We’re either getting cheap flights to Denver (under $50) or using frequent flyer points.

    We stay on snow, a few metres from the lifts (no driving or buses on dodgy roads) & lifts tickets are 1/4 of the price, due to competition. Accommodation on snow is roughly the same price as off snow in Queenstown.

    The skiing is some of the best anywhere in Colorado. Skiing in NZ is pretty basic & hardly world class as the spin doctors like to claim. Snow is much more reliable in Colorado.

    2 resorts, Arapahoe Basin & Loveland fight it out every year, to see who will open 1st in October. Ski season goes to mid April, but just saw on facebook, that they were having ski race training on plenty of snow at Loveland this week, in late May.

    Only major things going for Queenstown is that it’s only about 3.5 hours flying in each direction & you can go for a week or even less. Wouldn’t go to USA for less than 10 days, but we usually make a trip of it & go for 2 to 3 weeks, 2 weeks skiing & week doing other things.

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