7am: Early flight out of Auckland this morning. ENORMOUS queues at the airport, which made me happy we’d gone for arriving an hour before our flight, rather than the 30 minutes recommended. My Kiwibank air points credit card had earned me a couple of Koru lounge passes, so I hustled the kids in for a quick breakfast. Loved that my Air New Zealand app reminded me to order coffee – genius!! I might be slow to the party on this one, but Air NZ have really lifted the bar on service. It might be just coffee, but it’s the little things that count.
9am: Landed in Queenstown to a beautiful day, bitterly cold with heavy frost. Picked up our hire car. There’s a huge number of companies based at the airport. We went with NZ Rent a Car, which is a less expensive option based just out of town in Frankton. Their vehicles aren’t the fanciest (we have an aging Subaru Legacy), but their prices are good and they picked us up from the airport, so it was a simple experience.
10am: Headed to Arrowtown for gloves, coffee, sticky buns and candy. First stop was a brief visit to one of Arrowtown’s many merino wool specialty shops to buy both children warm gloves. Although Arrowtown is incredibly picturesque, it doesn’t get a great deal of sun in mid-winter, so be prepared to dress warmly! It had been a while since breakfast, and the early start meant a desperate need for coffee, so we made our way through the shopping area to Provisions. Provisions is renowned for it’s food and is a local institution. Their sticky buns are particularly legendary, and believe me when I say they live up to the hype. Filled with caramel, soft brioche and topped with chopped almonds, these are a must eat if you’re in town. On the way back to the car, there was a mandatory stop at the Remarkables Sweet Shop for fudge, ginger chocolates, and a few bags from the vast array of candy they have lining their walls. Kid’s paradise! They also have an outlet at the Queenstown airport.
12pm: We made our way over the Crown Range without incident, and made our way to our apartment just out of Wanaka. The Crown Range can be closed at this time of the year when snow has fallen heavily, but this year it’s all tussock, which doesn’t bode well for skiing!! Fingers crossed for a change in the weather. We’re staying at the Oakridge Apartments, which are split into two seperate booking agencies. One part is run by Mercure (the link above) – if you book here, you get all the benefits attached to the facility. Spa pools, gym, WiFi (at a price), etc. If you book through Goodstays, you’re unable to access these facilities, but the rooms are fundamentally the same, and the price is significantly less expensive. Either way, we’ve stayed here many times and have found it to be a great option for a family. We have a two bedroom/two bathroom apartment with lounge, dining area, laundry and full kitchen facilities, which gives us the flexibility to eat in or out.
1pm: Once again, hunger raised it’s head (!) so we went on a hunt for the Federal Diner. This is a very hip cafe down an alleyway on Wanaka’s main street (Google Maps found it for me). It occupies space on both sides of the alley. The Fedeli offers sandwiches, coffee, salads, etc from it’s cabinet to go, while the larger Federal Diner has a great menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with options for kids as well. The lunch menu is a mix of soup, salad, burgers and substantial sandwiches. Amelia had an Asian chicken noodle soup, with chilli, coriander and vermicelli noodles. It would have benefited from a bit more salt, but was delicious nonetheless. I had the”Roti n Roll” – pulled pork mixed with hoisin sauce, topped with coriander, spring onions and chilli and wrapped in a hot toasted roti. And it was amazing, although I could have eaten two. Ollie didn’t finish his cheeseburger (also great) so that was good news for me.