Royals can’t get enough of Queenstown


She wants to come back to help pick grapes – he can’t wait to return to drink the result.
It seems Royal it-couple the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are as big a fans of Queenstown as Queenstown is of them. 

The pair, known universally as Kate and Wills, were given a Queenstown experience to savour when they visited – without baby George – for the Royal Tour’s only official day off last Sunday. 

After dotting down at Queenstown Airport about 2.30pm they were whisked to Amisfield Winery for an hour-long sampling of the region’s best plonk and southern delicacies followed by a wild ride with Shotover Jet. 

Then it was home to the owner’s cottage of Queenstown’s $12,000-a-night Matakauri Lodge to kick back out of the public spotlight for the evening. 

They may have even opened one of three local Pinot Noirs – an Amisfield 2011, a Ceres 2010 and an Aurum
2007 – presented as a gift after the Amisfield showcase. 

What is known for sure is they had a blast and are keen to come back – for different reasons. 

Amisfield co-owner John Darby, who greeted the pair on arrival at Amisfield and walked them around the vineyard, says: “Kate loved the idea of picking grapes. I explained how we pick by hand to manage the quality better,” Darby says, adding he told her the annual harvest coming up is as much a social occasion as it is work.
“She was keen to come back and pick some grapes.” 

Akarua wine club manager Michael Skeggs, who had both the Duke and Duchess try his Akarua Pinot Noir 2012, revealed: “Will said he was keen to come back on holiday and spend a bit of time sitting down with a bottle and enjoying it.” 

Cromwell-based Rockburn Wines cellar door manager Nic Taylor says they virtually spoke to everybody at Amisfield from all 29 wineries represented and were extremely engaging and interested in everyone. 

“Will said he might bring George out when he’s 18 so they can enjoy some wine together.” 

Winemakers revealed Will was particularly fond of the red stuff, and it may have played a part in them locking in the Wakatipu winery visit. 

Central Otago Wine Growers Association president James Dicey says: “They had a genuine interest in wine – and he particularly likes his red. I think that’s one of the reasons we got to have them here rather than Blenheim. We turned it on for them – he was grateful for the sunshine.” 

Destination Queenstown chief executive Graham Budd says the pair experienced a small but lovely slice of what the resort has to offer. 

“It was wonderful that the young Royals chose Queenstown for a break, they clearly enjoyed themselves,” Budd says.