I’ve spent the past couple of weeks on holiday in a very special place.
Yeah, that’s right, Queenstown. And let me tell you something: it might be a pretty good spot to live but it’s an outstanding place to be on holiday.
I know the resort gets labelled a party town – and it is if that’s your buzz – but the Wakatipu is whatever you make it, really.
It can be a relaxing destination where you kick back with a wine or walks, a place you can throttle yourself doing a myriad of sporting events or a haven to cocoon yourself from the mad, mad world.
It’s been a mix of all three for me this past fortnight.
Between my brother and I, we’ve knocked off a three-day tramp, a half-marathon, a two-day tennis tournament, one mountain bike race, one duathlon and a New Year’s Day run in stifling heat from Queenstown to Arthurs Point to pick up the car. The latter being the toughest. In between times we racked up a fairly respectable bar tab.
It was the summer version of the last break I took here a few winters back with some cousins from Australia. We partied most nights and skied and boarded all day – for nine days straight. I’m happy to report it was an outstanding holiday destination then and it’s still outstanding now – just a bit busier and with better drink specials.
I’m not one of those people who hates it when the place fills up with more visitors than it can logistically handle.
The busier, the better as far as I’m concerned.
I can understand why some people who live here don’t share that view. But it amuses the heck out of me when visitors at this time of the year complain about how busy and crammed it is. And I’ve heard it from quite a few.
You gotta’ be kidding. You’re essentially complaining about yourself – if you choose to visit one of the country’s most popular holiday spots at the peak of summer, well, what did you expect? (Feel free to try the North Island, but suggest you check the weather first).
It does make me wonder where all you moaners were a couple of months ago when there was no one around.
Too busy for you right now? Try booking a trip in May and June or September and October next time. You’ll be able to get a car park and you won’t have to book ahead to get a seat at a restaurant – just turn up.
Perhaps Queenstown, looking forward, shouldn’t be trying to fill up its shoulder seasons – when there’s a traditional lull in visitor numbers – with events and attractions.
Maybe Destination Queenstown should try and ring-fence these quiet periods – and market them as such. I can hear the catch-cries now: “100 per cent pure privacy.” Or maybe: “Come in October – take the queue out of Queenstown.”
At the end of the day, it’s all relative – one person’s overly-populated juggernaut is another’s best kept secret.
Take the private jet pilot I chatted with about three years back. This guy, an American, had flown all over the world in his Gulfstream, ferrying about everyone from ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell to movie star Tom Cruise.
The pilot had been here for two days and I asked him what he thought about the place. I’ll never forget his answer.
“It’s incredible, one of the most amazing places I’ve ever seen – but there’s no one here,” he exclaimed.
“Let me tell you something – when people find out about this place, it’s gonna’ boom!”