Queenstown and the $9 avocado
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:
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.