Escape for a mid-winter family break in New Zealand's own snow capital.
Queenstown is the idyllic South Island winter holiday destination, with so much to do out-of-doors - walks, jet boating, skiing, and four-wheel driving. If you've been to Queenstown before, you know exactly why it is so worth going back for another vacation: the natural beauty is astounding. Each time hubby and I go to Queenstown we always end up looking at real estate and dreaming of moving down to Queenstown and completely changing the lifestyle we live. Practicalities and being close to family always end up preventing the big life change, but we can still dream!
We hadn't been down to Queenstown since I was pregnant with our first child a few years ago, so going to the winter wonderland with young children meant thinking of what to do and where to take them was a little different than when we were there on our own. After pulling together all the tourist brochures, we soon had a rough plan of what we could do each day (children's sleep and weather permitting). I had thought that it may be a little bit challenging finding things to do with the kids - especially as I am pregnant as well - and some of the more popular options you think of when visiting Queenstown were not necessarily child-friendly. Our two- and three-year-old girls would certainly not appreciate the Shotover Jet boat or AJ Hackett Bungy jump just yet!
We still managed to find plenty to do, a week's worth of great family activities in Queenstown, plus some time out and indulgence for mum and dad as well.
Arrowtown is a beautiful little village just out of Queenstown that is a great place to stay or visit during your trip. There are plenty of gorgeous little shops to enjoy, and walks and historic places to see.
Shopping: Arrowtown has several lovely cafés and quaint little shops to indulge in. Be sure to visit the remarkable sweet shop and taste their amazing range of home-made fudge - I recommend the crème Brûlée! www.remarkablesweetshop.co.nz
Chinese Settlement walk: A half-hour to an hour, and good for strollers.
Arrowtown Millenium walk: One hour return, and good for strollers.
Lakes District Museum: Visit the museum and see colourful displays. With a great exhibition gallery, there is plenty to occupy children. www.museumqueenstown.com
You don't have to travel far on day two if you're nested in the heart of Queenstown. Just a short walk to the pier will take you on a number of adventures. Two options leaving from the Main Town Pier in Queenstown are the Kawarau Jet and the TSS Earnslaw steamboat.
TSS Earnslaw: Take a heritage cruise on the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw across lake Whakitipu to Walter Peak. You can then have your own picnic organised or take the family on the Walter Peak farmyard tour.
Walter Peak Farm Excursions: Children will love the farmyard tour - help feed the animals and watch sheep shearing. Morning and afternoon tea are included.
Kawarau Jet: A one-hour adventure across lake Whakatipu, then through the Kawarau River discovering Queenstown's beautiful waterways. www.kjet.co.nz
A winter holiday with the family is not complete without playing in the snow. Visit either Coronet Peak or the Remarkable Ski Fields for a half-day with the kids. If you want to hire a toboggan, it's best to do so in town and take it up with you, as they're not hireable at the slopes. If you're wanting to have some time to ski yourself, there are great childcare facilities at both slopes. Book the kids in for a full- or half-day of care - meals can be provided and children get to play in the warm centre or pop outside to a secured snow spot where they can play in the snow and go for a ski. There are beds there for their day sleeps and the staff are all trained childcarers, and boy, is the view from their centre amazing! www.nzski.com
Skyline Gondola: The Skyline gondola restaurant has just reopened after a bit of a makeover. There is a café and restaurant at the top, with the most stunning views of Queenstown. www.skyline.co.nz
Patagonia Chocolate Shop: I recommend stopping by Patagonia Chocolate Shop on your way home for some delicious chocolate or ice cream - such a treat! www.patagoniachocolates.co.nz
Kiwi Birdlife Park: The kids can get up close and personal with native birdlife at live conservation shows at the Kiwi Birdlife Park. Set on five acres, this is a great family activity for any weather, as there's lots to see that is undercover. www.kiwibird.co.nz
Time out: A bit of time out for Mum and Dad is a must. Take turns at watching the kids while the other indulges in a bit of time out for themselves. I chose a pamper and had a fantastic aroma pregnancy massage and facial at Aspects Day Spa on Shotover Street. The staff were really friendly and I came away feeling very relaxed! www.aspectsdayspa.co.nz
Meanwhile, for Dad: I'm not sure if I did things the right way around, but later that day, I looked after the kids while my husband Royce went snowboarding at Coronet Peak and had a great time. If they're not into snowboarding, the men might like to have a round of golf at Millbrook, try the shotover, a bungy jump, some hunting or a 4WD adventure.
Goldfields Mining Centre:Explore the old Chinese village, view 100-year-old gold workings still in operation, and try panning for Gold yourself at this interesting and historic centre. www.goldfeldsmining.co.nz
Accommodation:We stayed at the Glebe apartments just a two-minute walk from the heart of Queenstown. The staff were very friendly. www.theglebe.co.nz
For hire: Fortunately, you can hire carseats, strollers, portacots, and toys for the time you're down there through Tots on Tour. Not only do they have a fantastic selection of toys and deliver to your accommodation, but you'll also be pleased to know the owner Wendy is also a midwife so if the unexpected happens, you know who to call! www.totsontour.co.nz
Babysitting: If you're hoping for a night out for dinner but don't have a babysitter you can organise one through Fun 4 Kids. www.fun4kids.co.nz
IMAGE CREDITS: TOP: SHUTTERSTOCK.
DISCOVER ARROWTOWN WWW.ARROWTOWN.COM
REMARKABLE SWEET SHOP