New Zealand Holiday: The recapalooza post

I thought I better do a blog post that packs all the info into one post so that if you are planning your own trip to NZ you have a one stop shop. I am not a top 7 places to see or do, I am more a this is what we did some of it was great and some of it was meh, but check it out and if you have any questions, just let me know.

First things first, thinking of going to New Zealand? Just DO it. We saw a very small part of the south island as we only have 9 days, but we will be back. The people are wonderfully friendly and accomodating and just LOVELY. The scenery at most times seems fake and even have the kids gasping at it’s beauty and wonder. The food is GREAT – so many great places to eat outside of the usual toasts traps and don’t even get me started on the wine. There are few crowds our tourists (outside of the main spots) so if you can get off the beaten track it’s worth it. The roads aren’t overly busy, it’s easy to navigate around….you get the picture? Book it.

We broke the trip into two parts: WANAKA and Central Otago for 4 nights and then Queenstown for 5 nights. I’ll share where we stayed and where we ate and drank.

Wanaka & Central Otago

We stayed at the Hawk House which is in Queensberry (between Cromwell and Wanaka) there are supermarkets and shops in Cromwell (which is about 20 mins away) or you can do shopping in Wanaka (15 mins away). Other than wineries and farms there is very little about so make sure you have supplies for when you are heading home. This house has won many awards for it’s architecture and design and is a truly once in a lifetime place to spend some time if you can – Denise the owner is so accomodating and friendly…tell her I sent you!

Wineries & Food

Rippon – just outside of Wanaka the most FABUOUS view ever from the carpark. I think from October 2019 they are doing bookings only for wine tastings so make sure you check that out. No food available here.
Mt Difficulty – we had lunch here with the girls (limited stuff for kids but delicious otherwise). Mags had  a charcuterie platter, Daisy an adult meal and Harps the kids pasta which was lovely. I think you get charged for a tasting but refunded if you by some wine. I did the tasting while we waited for our table. Make sure you book if you want to eat.
Urban Grind – we had a great brunch here there was something for everyone. Would recommend as a place to go with kids.
Supermarkets – there are plenty in Wanaka and I can’t recommend highly enough going and grabbing picnic stuff and stopping at any number of places overlooking STUNNING scenery. Grab a bottle of wine from a bottle shop and let the kids throw stones into the lake while you graze on food. It’s cheap. It’s relaxing. The kids can be feral and it doesn’t matter. This was our preferred way to eat.
Tarras – a lovely little stop and village with a good country cafe. Some amazing shops also to wander through it’s TINY but very pretty.

Family Stuff

Puzzling world – this a few minutes outside of Wanaka which the girls really enjoyed. There is a maze for running through, a series of rooms with different optical illusions, sculptures and a nice front garden to laze about it. I found it a little like piss weak world, but then again I am not their audience I guess.
Wanaka Lavender Farm – I went here a few years back with Olympus and knew I would have to bring the girls here. A gorgeous garden to run about in, a few farm animals and games to play it’s a lovely place to visit.
Blue Pools Track – this is a bit of a drive away but worth it when you arrive at the very end of Lake Wanaka and head into the Mt Aspiring National Park. It’s an easy 30 minute walk that all the kids could do (even with a tired 4 years old) and it’s breathtaking. There are suspension bridges, rivers, boardwalks and forests with fairies definitely about.
Drive from Rippon to Treble Cone – we left Rippon vineyard and happened across this pretty drive. Lots of places to stop along the lake it’s a really pretty drive and if the mountain is open there is skiing to be done.
Lake Hawea – we all loved it here so much. So beautiful and no one really about. There was a cafe and general store to buy food and supplies from. We had lunch down by the lake and then continued on to drive to Lake Wanaka and that was a truly BREATHTAKING drive. A must visit.
Cromwell Historical Precinct – this place has a touch of the Sovereign Hills about it – when Lake Dunstan was created the old town was flooded but many of the historical building dating back to the gold rush were saved and then put back together next to the lake for a pretty little village and place to shop and eat. It’s not big but worth a look if you have to come in to grab supplies. We stopped in here before we went onto the Bannockburn winery area.


We stayed at a great chalet style house in Sunshine Bay which we booked through Air Bnb (just a few mons drive from the centre of town but honestly too big a walk if you have kids). Garth, the owner is an Australian and couldn’t be more accomodating with any requests. 3 double bedrooms all with ensures and TV’s – it was like a 5 star hotel to yourself with the most amazing views. Lots of amenities and views that you could look at FOREVER. Good cooking facilities too – including a BBQ. Highly recommend this place for groups of 6.

Wineries & Food

Food on Q – we discovered this food delivery service (kind of like an Uber Eats) and it was perfect for the ease of having food delivered back to our great house which had the best views in the town! If you have tired toddlers you will know how much it ISN’T when you are eating out because all you want to do is NOT cook and have a break but you spend the time watching your partner get stressed about kids behaviour while picking up spilled drinks. It’s the worst. This was a lifesaver.
Chard Farm – we stopped in here for a wine tasting and it was STUNNING. Quite the perilous drive in through the mountainside and next to a very high drop down to the river below but what a spot. Great tasting that is free (donations to be made if you don’t buy anything) no food but worth a visit for sure.
Cardrona Hotel – a must visit, we stopped in when we drove from Wanaka across to Queenstown and I absolutely loved the lovely garden and fire to sit in. Cosy and historic, you can stay there, eat here or just stop in for a beer. A little playground for the kids too – even Prince Harry has had the Bangers and mash here.
Sal’s Pizza – a little hole in the wall now but saw that it was headed down to a new location by the water  this is tasty authentic tasting NY pizza. We ate in for an early dinner with the kids but of course couldn’t eat it all so took it home take away.
Madame Woo – we used the delivery service to get this at home but I would definitely love to go back there and try more things. This was DELICIOUS. The hawker rolls on roti were especially good. A must visit.
White & Wong’s – we ate in here (early) and were served so quickly I think we were in an out in under an hour which was both good and bad. Bad because: I would have liked to stay longer but god because: tired little kid. Great interiors, a good cocktail and delicious asian food.
Ferg Berger – a must visit any time you are in Queenstown if you are happy to wait. Grab a take away and go sit down by the water like every other bastard.
Bespoke Kitchen – great breakfast with a focus on vegan and vegetarian but our bacon lovers didn’t miss out. Located up near the Gondola and Luge we had a great breakfast here.
Provisions of Arrowtown – we stopped in here twice. Great coffee and the girls LOVED the sticky caramel buns in particular. Food looked amazing even though we only tried cake. Gorgeous garden to sit in and relaxed for kids.
Jacks Point – we had our best meal in NZ here and would highly recommend even with kids. Amazing outlook it is the club house for the golf course but anyone can come and enjoy the view, great food, amazing interiors and of course that delicious NZ wine.

Places we didn’t get to but LOTS recommended:

Amisfield Winery & restaurant
Botswana Butchery
Pedros House of Lamb
Bathhouse Cafe
The Lodge bar at Rodd & Gunn
Cargo Brewery & Kitchen
Onsen Hot Pools
Rata Queenstown
Jervois Steak House

Family Stuff

Gondola & Luge – this was a highlight for the whole family. The gondola trip up the mountain then up the chairlift to the luge we took 5 rides (Mags doubled up with Rob) which I think was just over $200. There is a cafe and restaurant up the top with overpriced goods but one hell of a view we all loved this so much.
Mini Golf – we played 18 holes just next to the Gondola and Luge one morning and while this wasn’t Maggie’s fave thing our girls loved it as they had never played before.
Shotover Jet – I had always wanted to do this since being a kid so I am not sure who enjoyed this more, me or the kids? It’s expensive for sure, the boat ride goes for 25 mins but it’s one of those one off things and the big kids LOVED it. Our family of 5 wedged in the back seat, if you are over 1 metre you can ride on it – I think Mags enjoyed it – there was lots of squealing for sure.
Arrowtown – I love this old gold rush town complete with tiny cute cottages and old shops there’s lots of great places to eat and drink and shop in but it’s packed and VERY touristy. If you got there outside of those times you would soak up the beauty of this place. We walked around the chinese settlement too which was interesting (to me at least).
Kiwi Bird Park – we went in here on our last morning in Queenstown and really enjoyed it. Learnt lots, saw some kiwis and admire the conservation work they are doing here. I liked learning a little about Maori culture which we hadn’t had a chance to until here.
Glenorchy – a stunning drive from Queenstown following lake wakatipu we had some car sickness issues but I do love this place. Middle Earth beauty with some cute little cafes and stores and a park to wander around.
Bungee jumping – just opposite the turn off for Chard Farm we stopped in here to watch people do bungee jumping and there is a zipline too. Kids loved watching this for free.
TSS Earnslaw & Walter Peak farm tour – this is peak tourist but it’s popular for a reason it’s great fun. We loved the boat trip and the farm tour (especially the afternoon tea) you can also have lunch or dinner there depending on the season. The girls enjoyed the shearing demo and I loved the old gardens and views everywhere.
Queenstown lakefront park – this is one of the best kids parks we have been to and what a location! I have heard that you can even grab a drink at the Bath House next door and watch the kids from there. Maggie and Harper LOVED this place.
Man St Parking – parking and traffic in general in Queenstown is a SHITSTORM so we found this place useful. Reasonably priced and handy to get from and to anywhere in town.
Alpine supermarket – this was the easiest supermarket to get into (of course there is a huge complex out there the airport that has a Woolies) (they call Countdown) but this was good with parking.

There was lots more to see and do but this is what we go up to. We really had the very best time – a perfect family holiday to enjoy with kids of all ages. Great food and wine there was something for everyone.

You can also read my other posts while we were there here:

Wanaka Day 1
Lake Hawea & Blue Pools
Cromwell & Mt Difficulty winery
The Hawk House where we stayed in Wanaka
From Wanaka to Queenstown & Luge
Queenstown Adventures days 6 & 7
TSS Earnslaw & farm tour

But tell me…what did we miss?
Tell me your must do in the comments!


  1. Wow what a holiday! New Zealand has been on my list for so many years, I am now going to make it a reality. I am pretty much going copy what you guys did but alas not the accommodation as way over our budget!

  2. Hi!
    Can I ask- did you fly in and out of Queenstown?
    I have a 3,6 and 8 yr old and have 9 days in NZ in September


    • Sorry for the late response from me about this – yep we flew into Queenstown from Sydney on Qantas x

      • Thanks so much!
        Just tossing up whether to do a “driving holiday” from Christchurch -Queenstown or do something similar to your itinerary . I have very keen nature kids in my house who are so keen to fish, see penguins etc
        Thanks again

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