How to burger and beer in Queenstown

I was flying through a sea of clouds over a crystal clear lake, hedged by rugged snow capped mountains. Looking out the window, I whistled to myself. After all these years I had finally made it across the pond – hello Queenstown. 

I touched down and headed out to explore the small ski town. Although it is known as the adventure capital, it was a burger, not a bungy that was first on my list. 

I had heard about the famous Ferg burger countless times in the lead up to my trip. To the meat loving, sheep sheering Kiwis, it is much more than just a burger. It is a weird and wonderful masterpiece of meat and salads resting inside a soft fresh bread roll. You might think this all sounds a bit ridiculous and maybe it is – but I for one couldn’t help getting caught in the hype.  

I found the small burger shop after a quick stroll down the main street. A ridiculously long line of people burst out of the restaurant and snaked down the road. 

Some might call me crazy for waiting over an hour to eat a burger; some might call me a visionary. Either way, I jumped in line with enthusiasm and a huge appetite. Not long into the wait, this gusto turned to frustration. I had made the mistake of skipping breakfast and it was nearly my downfall. I battled through and finally made it to the front counter; where I was stumped. I didn’t find a simple hamburger or cheeseburger, but a list of creations cooked up by a meat loving mad scientist.  

Meet the Bun Laden: a mixture of falafel, chilies and veg. Or Cockadoodle Oink: a combo of snitty, maple bacon and avo. After much deliberation, I went for a more sensible option. The Chief Wiggum: a mixture of Pork belly, hash brown and apricot mustard… 

I then made my way to the Shore of Queenstown Lake to romance the dear burger. It was love at first bite. The perfect blend of flavors and textures swirled in my mouth, teasing my taste buds. 

Ok, that’s a bit much, but it was a pretty good burger. And at the end of the day, I’m a simple man - give me crispy pork with a hash brown and I’m yours. 

I then headed home to sleep off the meat sweats and prepare for my first night out in Queenstown. 

“Two Jaeger bombs thanks.” With that, our introduction to Queenstown’s epic nightlife had begun. 

Now before you turn your nose, it is perfectly acceptable, if not expected, to kick off with Jaeger bombs. This is Queenstown after all, and don’t let the quaint ski town fool you – they know how to party. 

After the bombs, I headed to an eclectic hotspot called Zephyr. Finding it hidden down a dodgy alleyway behind an unassuming door. Where wooden grates and glass bottles line red brick walls. First up, some specialty cinnamon whisky shots. The bartender then demonstrated the Queenstown way to cheers – one to the bar, one to your mate then down the hatch. 

I then threw on some furs and headed into Below Zero ice bar, where the temp sits around minus 12 degrees. The friendly bartender served up a mixture of cocktails in ice glasses. Obviously not a fan of dishes, he informed us to smash our empty glasses. Not long after, the ice a challenge was thrown down. Strip to your undies and see who can hang on the longest.  

It was then time to warm up with some dancing. The best place to do it, a boutique rum bar called Habana. The charming bar was filled with Latin music, rums, cocktails and salsa. The stand out drink: spiced rum lime and ginger beer. 

If the big night doesn’t sound like you – opt for the more chilled experience. With over fifty bars to choose from, you’re bound to find the right fit. A good start is to stroll the wharf, sampling wherever stands out. A local favourite is Atlas, a quirky bar situated smack bang on the waterfront. 

Either way, Queenstown definitely stands up to my nightlife test and is well worth a visit. 

AdventureScott Bidmead