Queenstown and the Southern Lakes is world famous for its natural beauty plus a plethora of more than 200 activities on offer -ranging from action-packed to passive relaxation. You really are spoilt for choice whether you are an adventure junkie or just want to kick back and relax. Even if you’ve been here before you will find new activities, restaurants and shops have started up or opened since your last visit. Some activities cost nothing and others require pre-booking and payment in advance. For your convenience we have included website addresses so you can secure your place in line with your stay at Bearsden.
Relax in the spa.
Kick back around the outdoor or indoor fire with a coffee or wine. Immerse yourself in a good book or just take in the magnificent views and rural landscape. Play a game of croquet or boules on the spacious lawns.
Make the most of our complimentary mountain bikes and take in some of the surrounding countryside on an easy ride to nearby Lake Hayes or the Shotover River. Go for a walk up Slope Hill Road around 1 hour return for stunning views of the whole area. Some of the most spectacular drives in New Zealand are an easy half or day trip from Bearsden. Just ask us
Ski & Snowboard
The ski season opens in early June at Coronet Peak and generally finishes the first week of October across the valley at The Remarkables. There are three other ski areas within 1-2 hours drive from Bearsden; (Snowpark, Cardrona and Treblecone and one cross country; Snowfarm all within easy reach from Bearsden. As keen skiers we are happy to advise each morning on which ski area to go to depending on weather and snow conditions. If you require equipment hire see Browns Ski Shop and pre-book before you arrive and we will arrange to have your equipment waiting for you at Bearsden. Intermediate to advanced skiers should consider helicopter skiing. Harris Mountain Heliski boasts one of the largest heliski terrain in the area - the view from the helicopter of the Southern Alps is as much of a highlight as skiing in pristine virgin snow with your own experienced alpine guide.
We are spoilt for choice and affordability with five golf courses offering a variety of terrain all within 20 minutes drive of Bearsden. Millbrook Golf Course is less than 5 minutes away and is a beautifully laid out championship resort course offering 27 holes. Arrowtowns 18-hole course will test your skill on its narrow drives. Kelvin Heights (Queenstown Golf Club), described as New Zealand’s most scenic golf course, has a hilly 18 holes set on a peninsula overlooking Queenstown Bay and Lake Wakatipu. The club also runs Frankton’s 9 hole course with driving range. The newest course (some say the most challenging) is Jacks Point. You will be easily distracted by the spectacular views of the Remarkables Range, Cecil Peak and Lake Wakatipu. If you’ve played all five and are still looking for more, check out Wanaka Golf Course or Cromwell Golf Course, built on genuine ‘links’ style terrain.
Complimentary bikes are available at Bearsden and easy rides start from the door on country lanes and quiet roads. One of our favourites is an easy 20-30 minute ride on sealed and dirt roads to picturesque Lake Hayes where you can picnic or swim in summer and then cycle back via an easy or more challenging route. However for the more adventurous, Vertigo Bikes offer a range of guided mountain bike tours in the most scenic and adrenaline pumping area in New Zealand. Choose from a Heli Bike Tour, Skippers Canyon or Skyline Gondola Downhill. The Otago Central Rail Trail takes you on a cycling or walking adventure through 150km of some of New Zealand’s most memorable scenery and awe-inspiring gold mining history. Accommodation is available on route, but be sure to book in advance and allow at least 3 days.
There are some stunning tracks and trails in the Queenstown Area. Some take you up into the alpine regions, but many are easy walks along rivers or lakes. From Bearsden you can choose various walks right from the door. One of our favourites is a walk down to the Shotover River and back - if you are a runner it’s around one hour return, but allow two hours for a leisurely walk. A quick drive to Arrowtown or Lakes Hayes will open up even more walks/hikes. The Wakatipu Trails Trust is dedicated to developing a network of public trails around the Wakatipu Basin and more walks are opening up each summer. If you have the time, we highly recommend an overnight guided hike such as the Hollyford Track. This is a scenic three-day (two night) hike through ancient native rain forest, past pristine rivers all the way to the rugged West coast and the remote sand dunes of Martins Bay.
The cool climate and long summers of Central Otago and Gibbston Valley are ideal for producing some of the world’s best Pinot Noirs. With over 20 vineyards between five and 40 minutes drive from Bearsden, your taste buds are in for a treat. The nearby Amisfield Wine Company produce aromatic whites and Methode Traditionelle along with award-winning Pinots. We recommend you stop here for lunch or dinner and take time to experience a variety of their wines. Further down in Gibbston Valley you will find Peregrine Wines. They have won several gold medals and their latest 2007 Pinot Noir won the 2009 International Wine Challenge in London.
Queenstown, Arrowtown and the surrounding district is home to many excellent restaurants - local specialities include venison, lamb, South Island salmon, crayfish and (when in season) whitebait and Bluff oysters. Cromwell produces not only award winning wines, but seasonal fruits for eating and preserving. You can’t go past their cherries at Christmas. Nearby Gibbston Valley Cheese produce a variety of cheese and award winning Oamaru-based Whitestone Cheeses are essential to any local cheese board. If you are staying at Bearsden for three or more nights we’ll say ‘thanks’ with a cheese platter introducing you to some of our local cheese and preserves along with a local Pinot Noir. We can also recommend restaurants that will appeal to your individual tastes.
After the spa at Bearsden you may wish to indulge in a little more pampering at nearby Millbrook Resort. Millbrook Spa is an awarding-winning Spa and was recently placed among the Top Ten in the world. The Spa provides a complete range of therapeutic and beauty treatments for men and women including body and massage therapies, facials, skincare, hair and make-up.
You could spend months exploring the Southern Lakes and still have not walked all the tracks and experienced all the activities on offer. So if you only have a few days, here are some of the best:
Explore: Jet boating
You can’t go past a jet boat experience if you come to Queenstown and one of the best on offer is a trip up the Dart River with Dart River Jet Boat Safaris near Glenorchy, 40 minutes from Queenstown. The drive alone to Glenorchy is spectacular, but wait until you get even further up the valley via an exhilarating Hamilton Jet then you will truly appreciate what a beautiful area we live in. Take lots of photos to remind yourself why you need to come back.
Explore: Milford Sound
Milford Sound, described by Rudyard Kipling as the eighth wonder of the world, was listed as the Number One destination in the world in 2008 by Trip Advisor. When you are short on time the best way to visit Milford Sound is to fly in by small plane or helicopter (the latter is a ‘Bearsden’ favourite) and the best time to go is first thing in the morning. Make sure you include a cruise with your trip. Refer to www.milfordflights.co.nz or www.helicopter.co.nz.
Explore: TSS Earnslaw and Walter Peak High Country Farm
Relive the elegance of turn-of-the-century travel with a cruise on Queenstown’s iconic vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw. Launched in 1912, the TSS Earnslaw is the largest and grandest vessel ever to ply Lake Wakatipu. Today, the TSS Earnslaw is believed to be the only coal-fired passenger-carrying vessel still operating in the southern hemisphere. The TSS Earnslaw makes several trips daily across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak High Country Farm on the western shores.
Explore: Hot Air Ballooning
Sunrise Hot Air Balloons are often spotted floating above Bearsden so you are bound to want to be a part of this unforgettable experience and see what they see, followed by a champagne breakfast in the field (possibly near Bearsden) after landing.
More South Island Highlights
Pre or post your visit to Bearsden you may wish to consider these other options:
Aoraki Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain and the training ground for Sir Edmond Hillary prior to his successful ascent of Everest in May 1953. Stay a night at The Hermitage to allow more time to explore the region and the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre. www.hermitage.co.nz
Dusky and Breaksea Sounds located further south of Milford are located in an area unchanged since Maori and European history began. You can experience this awe-inspiring tectonic geography, solitude and unique pristine marine environment by exclusive charter of the M V Pembroke complete with skipper/diver/fisherman and chef for two or more days. Ideal if you are travelling with another couple. www.fiordlandcharters.co.nz
West Coast Rafting down the Landsborough River involves a three-day wilderness rafting and camping adventure on the West Coast of the South Island. Pickup Queenstown. www.landsborough.co.nz
See our calendar of events for more details of what’s on in the area and when.