I was chosen from 1 of 11 women to take on a challenge in the wilderness of New Zealand in a bid to empower women and to promote female leadership in the automotive industry.
So on Saturday, March 30 I set off on a very early morning flight headed for Queenstown where our hiking journey of Mount Aspiring National Park would begin.
Lucky enough, I had a day and a half in Queenstown to explore the beautiful town. But firstly I learnt that in fact Melbourne airport security doesn’t open until 4am, so I spent a very long 45 minutes with everyone jet setting to Bali, waiting for the doors to open.
So my flight was productive, doing excel spreadsheet work makes the flight go super quick and makes the spreadsheet work not as horrid, when you know you are about to hit a new country.
The highlight of the flight? Flying in between the mountains coming into Queenstown, my god! Stunning! If you can, request a window seat for this flight.
So anyway, New Zealand border security is quite strict but the best part, sniffer doggos!! I stupidly (but honestly) declared my hiking boots and said yes to the question “have you worn these before”, even though it was once and even though that one time was a tourist walk in Dandenong, Melbourne.
This honesty delayed my time by about 30 minutes for the security to look at them, nearly laughed at that “you call those worn” and sent me on my way.
So because of that ordeal, I was 30 minutes later than my transfer pick up time so of course, they were gone, nowhere to be seen. The lady that the information desk hated me and was no help. In the end, I opted for a taxi instead…
The taxi driver was lovely, he gave me some tips on what to do and see and was very friendly for the whole 15 minutes of my taxi ride, which cost me $50… I believe Uber is cheaper but I’m not sure how legal and accommodating it is in NZ yet.
However, the drive to my hotel was amazing, so so beautiful – the mountains and the Lake Wakatipu looked fake, like in a really beautiful way! Lucky for me it was a sunny day so the water was so clear and the sky really highlighted those huge mountains.
For the two nights, we were lucky enough to be staying at Sofitel St Moritz and wow it was stunning! Until my room was ready I had a cup of tea overlooking the most incredible view, even the cup of tea was fancy.
My room was the garden view downstairs and it was massive! Super fancy dressing gowns, Molton Brown shampoo and conditioner, this place was beautiful. Then it was time to explore the beautiful Queenstown.
The sun was shining, the water was a beautiful bright blue and I spent my walk in awe of this amazing place. Along the water on Saturday’s a market brings loads of people to the area with everything from necklaces, food and even massages on the street.
Then you head to the beginning of the lake, which has a beach like feel. Looking down to the edge of town and the mountains, wow it is unbelievable.
The streets of Queenstown are full of loads of shops and tourism information where you can book any adventure from Milford Sound to bungee jumping or parasailing on the lake, there is so much to do.
But a must do for me was to try the Fergburger, the line was long but they moved the people through quickly and wow it was worth it!
I opted for the classic with cheese and it was so delicious, the perfect amount of sauce and the bun not too much! Now I know why it is such a hit.
Then they have ice cream, which was also amazing! Definitely worth trying as well, but they sell it by the water too!
Looking around the shops I did find myself in Remarkable Sweet Shop where we tried the amazing fudge flavours! My personal favourite? The creme brulee and jelly tip, yum! You can even buy small tester packs where you get a bit of everything, great idea.
So where to eat for dinner? By the water is a must and if you like variety, Public Kitchen is a great choice. You can share meals and they have a great range.
Try the pork belly, which is amazing and the rhubarb creme brulee for dessert.
Day one in Queenstown was beautiful, I got to explore parts of the gorgeous town and ate some amazing food, but one of my highlights was also that bed in the hotel room – wow now that was comfort!
Start off your second day in Queenstown by watching the sunrise from the water. We walked to the botanical gardens and watched as the sun came up over the mountains, it was stunning!
The hotel breakfast put this place in the top 5 of the best hotels I’ve stayed in and then we began a day of exploring.
First stop was the gondola ride up the mountain, the walk is a bit of a workout but up the hill, you will find even more things to do, lifelike indoor sky diving, mini golf and of course the gondola ride which takes you to activities including the bungee jump, swing and the luge ride.
Or if you just want to experience the amazing view of Queenstown for $40 you can get a return trip, go up and have a coffee and cake (or a wine if you fancy). You need to see the view to believe it, it is incredible!!
The trip is pretty steep so if you hate heights pick your seat carefully in a gondola. After that amazing experience, it was time to try Fergbaker as the other girls tried the burger. I got the pork belly with apple sauce, after recommendations from the worker. Eat by the water for a great atmosphere.
After more food, it was time to meet the whole group, get our hiking brief and head for a welcome dinner. We were all from different parts of Australia, with one from NZ and all work for one of the four brands, so we didn’t really know each other but all hit it off.
Then it was time to pack our hiking gear and get some rest in a normal bed for the last time for 5 days. I spent way too long to sort my bag, all the gear and no idea.
Queenstown is stunning with so many activities for everyone. From the amazing food to adrenaline rushes, you will never be bored. Queenstown, it was a short time and I will be back.