Queenstown Food & Nightlife

Southern Lakes Heli Skiing
The quality and quantity of the Queenstown dining opportunities and the Queenstown bars and pubs is fantastic! Queenstown gets the Powderhounds rating of 5 out of 5 for restaurants and nightlife, and the Powderhounds have awarded Queenstown with Best Skiing in New Zealand awards for dining, apres and the nightlife.

Queenstown Restaurants

Queenstown has a huge diversity of dining opportunities to cater to the many tourists. Queenstown restaurants range from formal dining to cafés, pub meals, and cheap eats in the food courts. There are restaurants in Queenstown serving NZ cuisine as well international eateries such as Italian and Mexican, whilst Beach Street is “little Asia” with a range of different Asian restaurants including Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Thai.

The Botswana Butchery on Marine Parade is THE place in town to eat. The upscale décor is gorgeous and you feel like royalty if you sit in one of the throne chairs. The food is outstanding, particularly the steaks. Perhaps resist that you’re in lambing country and go for a good Angus pure ribeye or Rolls Royce eye fillet. If you’re on a diet the desserts are complete cruelty because all the favourites can be found on one fabulous menu: affogato, lemon tart, crème brulee, and date steamed pudding. Botswana Butchery has awesome wines and there are lots of $2000 bottles of wine if you really want to charge up the company account. It’s lucky that the food and wine are superb because the service can be severely lacking, particularly if it’s busy, which it generally is. One night we had an 8:30pm sitting and didn’t get any food until 10pm, not even a morsel of bread. The kitchen couldn’t keep up with the demand, and lots of assertiveness was required to get the attention of the waitress who largely ignored us.

Another popular Queenstown restaurant is The Cow (Cow Lane off Beach St). This old dairy has been lovingly restored and serves up gourmet pizzas and pasta. This is a very social place because the tables are shared, and if you have to wait for a table, the bar is also a festive place to hang out.

The Bunker is another of the upscale Queenstown restaurants (Cow Lane), and due to its popularity it’s often booked out. The chic menu includes specialities such as Paua (abalone) ravioli. Upstairs is a smart bar with great wines, a diverse cocktail list, comfie couches, and a cranking fire in winter.

Ivy and Lola’s Kitchen and Bar is located at Steamer Wharf. This Queenstown restaurant provides high quality yet reasonably priced steaks and other fare. The eclectic mix of art deco and Victorian décor contributes to a warm and friendly ambience.

Madam Woo in the mall is a vibrant Queenstown restaurant serving up Chinese and Malaysian street food. It’s very trendy, very busy, and very expensive for what it is.

Hikari Japanese Restaurant is a delightful establishment located in Beach Street. This izakaya (Japanese bar with lots of appetizers) feels authentic and the food is yummy. Alternatively if you’re struggling to find a table, try Minami Jujisei (45 Beach Street) which is the largest of the Japanese restaurants and very popular with the Japanese tourists.

Queenstown has lots of Indian restaurants, but a stand-out would be the Bombay Palace (66 Shotover Street). The curries are close to sensational and the food is very easy on the wallet. This restaurant is BYO wine so you can save some additional pennies, and it’s also licensed.

For a relaxed meal, head to the Ballarat Trading Co. in the mall. This restored pub and restaurant serves up a large range of meals and has great cocktails. They also have wireless internet so this is a good spot to catch up on the emails.

A dining option that combines a classic Queenstown tourist activity is the Skyline Restaurant, which is perched up above Queenstown and accessed via a gondola. The restaurant offers amazing panoramic views over the town, lake and surrounding mountains. It is open for lunch and dinner offering buffet-style dining.

Another novelty dining option is a Walter Peak tour to a sheep station on the historic Earnslaw steamboat. See the Earnslaw tours page for more information.

Casual & Daytime Dining Queenstown

During the day the Queenstown café culture flourishes. Even during winter the crowds sit outside and enjoy a latte or beer. Alternatively diners sit inside in front of open fires.

Fergburger in Shotover Street is an icon of Queenstown, selling a large range of yummy takeaway burgers. Chances are that you’ll have to queue for a long time to get a burger because this place is really trendy. One of the Fergburger mottos is “Ferg Loves You”, probably because of the millions he’s made through selling an endless number of hamburgers to the tourists. A couple of similar type burger places have popped up in Queenstown, but they can’t compete with the original and the best.

The Vudu Café & Larder (16 Rees St) is open for breakfast and lunch. They have a large range of yummy gourmet baked items as well as cooked menu items. On fine days you can sit outside and gaze across the lake.

Another good spot for a hearty breakfast is Joe’s Garage in Searle Lane. Or if you’re in need of a quick caffeine fix before you head to the slopes, there’s always McCafe and Starbucks.

Queenstown Nightlife & Bars

There are plenty of options for Queenstown nightlife and après-ski in the form of wine bars, pubs with DJs, nite clubs, garden bars, and old-fashioned pubs. There are Queenstown bars to suit all age groups and tastes from the high heeled fur-wearing set to the happy-go-lucky backpacker.

A gorgeous little bar is Bardeaux in the laneway between Searle Lane and the Mall. It is refined, small and intimate. Sit at the bar or on one of the comfie armchairs or couches. The cocktail and wine list is extensive and they also serve up snacks, tapas and cheese platters.

Across the lane is the Habana rum bar which is nice for a quiet drink. Other petite bars include Bar Up, which is upstairs from the Minibar and specialises in upmarket cocktails. The Naughty Penguin in Cow Lane is another cocktail lounge worth including on your DIY bar-crawl of Queenstown.

Or check out Rhino’s Ski Shack in Cow Lane, which has funky retro ski décor and hessian cushions, and their own beer. This place is more of a locals’ bar. Don’t play with the Jenga Horny Board!

For a little bit more festivity head to the Cowboy Bar in Searle Lane. Someone had a really fun time designing this bar that comes complete with a bear at the entrance, saddle bar seats, cow hide chairs, beer taps shaped as guns, and lots of other cowboy décor. And if you haven’t injured yourself at one of the Queenstown ski fields, you can always give it a crack on the mechanized bull! The Cowboy Bar has great happy hour specials and complimentary food in the early evening.

For a laid-back drink or meal, Pog Mahones is a very cosy Irish Pub that backs onto the waterfront.

Après is particularly happening at Brazz, partly because of good happy hour specials. The crowd is very mixed and the place is generally packed.

Nearby is Guilty, an upmarket bar set in the old courthouse of Queenstown. This bar is suited to the trendy set and those with tired legs who want a drink in seated comfort. The tapas here are yummy and they also serve full meals.

For a party scene, head to World Bar (12 Church St).

There is also a small casino as well as an ice-bar at Steamer Wharf. The temperatures in Queenstown are too warm to have an authentic ice-bar purely made of ice, so they have to make do with some man-made refrigeration.