Queenstown has done it tough over Covid but it’s great to see New Zealand’s best-known resort town looking busier once more.
Oaks Queenstown Shores Resort is in the midst of a bit of a makeover in preparation for increasing visitor numbers – same gorgeous views, even better accommodation. And so far the blocks that have been upgraded are looking pretty good.
Right on the lake – the views from the two lakeside blocks are beyond dreamy. It’s very hard not to feel relaxed when you throw your blinds open to a panorama of The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu in all their mountain-meets-water glory.
There’s a path from the bottom of the property that will take you all the way into the centre of town – a beautiful peaceful 35-minute walk. Otherwise, it’s a five-minute car ride or Uber from Frankton to where all the action is.
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The 157 rooms are divided into categories to suit different needs and budgets – hotel rooms; one-, two- and three-bedroom lake view rooms; two-bedroom courtyard rooms and two-bedroom loft rooms.
The renovations commenced in 2019 and were pushed back a bit by Covid, but are ultimately progressing very well.
There’s a lovely bar and lobby where you can have a coffee or a drink with the ultimate view. Watch out for the chairs by the window facing the lake; you may never want to get up from them.
My room was a one-bedroom Premier Lake View Apartment. And they weren’t kidding about the lake view bit.
Ever-changing, the vista morphed from misty swirls engulfing snow-scattered peaks to clear skies and sparkling water to mellow sunsets transitioning to twinkly night-time reflections. Even on a bad day, it was undeniably gorgeous.
It was a large space – the bedroom had a very comfortable king-sized bed and plenty of space to hang and stack clothes.
The bathroom looked newly renovated – clean, white sparkling tiles contrasted by a light wood vanity and the large rectangular bath with a view of the water.
The kitchen had everything you could need for self-catering – large fridge, oven, microwave, laundry and dryer machine, Nespresso machine (hallelujah!), pots, pans and large kitchen table to eat from.
There was also a table outside if you felt like dining alfresco. Perfect for a self-catering holiday.
The lounge space was also sizeable with two large blue sofas and a window seat. Lying on it in the afternoon sun was the definition of bliss.
The Oaks has all the usual – great linen, personal amenities, good internet access, 50-inch TVs with extra channels available.
And as any good hotel in a snowy region should have – underfloor heating, double-glazed windows, and – in this case – the bonus of gas fireplaces in many of the apartments. Super snuggly.
There’s currently no food offering at Oaks Queenstown Shores as it’s designed for people who are self-catering. Stock up at the supermarket just ten minutes down the road (by car) and create masterpieces in your fully equipped kitchen.
Of course on the days when you don’t feel like cooking, Queenstown has you covered – from hearty Fergburgers to the refinement and world-class cuisine of Amisfield there’s something nearby for every mood and taste.
Worth stepping out for
It’s Queenstown – so step out for adventure. K-Jet’s jet boats are a world of fun (they actually do an ‘airport shuttle’ where your bags get delivered by van and you get delivered to your hotel by boat) there’s the original bungy and Oxbow Adventure Co just up the road if you want an adrenaline hit.
If you’re looking for something a bit gentler, the Skyline ride up to Bob’s Peak for spectacular views is great – and of course, the luge back down. Check out Buzzstop for a fascinating tour of hives (in a beesuit of course) – spin your own honey, taste some local products (including gin) and learn many things you never knew about these incredible creatures.
Or hit the shops and great restaurants – Margo’s, Blue Kanu, The Bunker and The Sherwood are all favourites – or take a wine tour to Gibbston Valley (Altitude Tours do a great job). Of course in winter, the proximity to multiple ski fields is unparalleled.
Worth staying in for
Is it boring to keep banging on about the views? They really were spectacular, and the full glass front of the apartment meant it was comfortingly ever-present. Sitting outside on the balcony looking out over the mountains and lake was something very special and it was hard to even imagine the concept of stress.
The feeling of relaxation Oaks Queenstown Shore incites is of a therapeutic level. I really never wanted to leave that sofa and even replying to emails on my laptop seemed so much less arduous with that view from the dining table.
Friendly staff, super comfortable rooms, and incredible vistas all equate to the ultimate chill factor, the kind of feeling you want to bottle up and take back with you. It was such a wrench after three nights to realise this wasn’t actually my life, or my home.
The lowlight is the current lack of in-house hospitality options. Like so many hotels, Oaks Queenstown Shores had to shut their restaurant due to Covid and staffing issues.
There is, however, a bar with packeted snacks like nuts and chips, and the manager said there are plans in the near future for a bar menu or platters.
A glass of Central Otago pinot, something to nibble on and those views from the lobby would be all I would need for unbridled happiness.
Room rates start from $259 per night. See: oakshotels.com/en/oaks-shores
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