“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.” – Dr Seuss.
Moving to NZ was a shock to the system. It wasn’t the jet lag or the weather that was an issue though, it was the cost of living. So after 2 days of job hunting, I landed the job with Pita Pit and quickly established myself as a local.
Being a local comes with certain perks. Numero Uno: cheap drinks. Boy, did I drink. A lot. A vodka & coke was costing me the equivalent of 2 pounds back home. I was in my element and loved every minute.
My favourite haunts were quickly established; below is a list and why you should visit.
The Precinct- Xtreme, CBC & Malbas: My housemate worked there so it became a regular hangout and the atmosphere wasn’t bad. Mostly we hung out in Xtreme where every Monday they showed Game of Thrones (which I hated and found really surreal and creepy. Who wants to go to a bar and be shhh’d at?!) You could buy a Stein of lager for $8.00 between 5 and 7 daily. The best fish & chips I’ve had in NZ were served up for just $5.00 on a Wednesday! They also have a kg of wings on a Monday and steak night on a Tuesday for $10.00. Bargain! CBC was good for cheap drinks during happy hour starting at 9pm with a really chilled vibe.
1876: Great any time of day but especially when the weather’s nice as they have a great beer garden to chill in. They also serve up food and have various offers on each day. House wines and beer are cheaper but there’s no locals deals. It’s not expensive for the other stuff though and the staff are lovely. They have some great bands on too, and I went to my first silent disco there! Just keep an eye out for their posters.
Rhino’s Ski Shack: My favourite bar ever and it’s not even been around very long. Originally a pop up bar for the winter, it looks like they will be staying open. An amazing little bar that’s very rarely empty. The staff are absolutely fantastic. The locals drinks offers are wicked although even without it’s not stupidly expensive. On many an occasion, I’ve popped in after work for one and stayed there until the early hours of the morning. They have cards, connect four and Jenga- which almost always becomes a drinking game. During the winter the hot buttered rum and eggnog shots were a delicious treat too. If you get a chance to try their pizzas: do! Oh so tasty. 5 stars from me!
Cowboys: If you’ve been to QT this is probably an unexpected one as it’s usually full of more mature, long-term locals with a bit of spare cash to spend. Eugene (their regular bouncer who has known me since my first day) often warns me not to act as the young and inexperienced travellers would, at Searle Lane a bit further down- if I do, I’m out. The drinks aren’t cheap. I think you pay $13 for a Stein. But the open fire, moose heads, bucking bronco bull and excellent 60s 70s and 80s music makes it one of my favourite places. It’s a place where you slowly get drunk until you’re suddenly dancing to Wham at 2am and singing 80s ballads to Eugene as you leave.
The Boiler Room: Oh Boiler, Boiler, Boiler. Every town has a place where most will end their night and Boiler is Queenstowns. On one occasion, after a bottle of Scrumpy (most vile cider ever but it’s cheap and gets you drunk) I also started my night here. It didn’t end well. The local prices are excellent, the music isn’t bad but the atmosphere is wicked. When you’re at the stage of drunk where everyone is your best friend, Boiler is the place to be. It’s long and narrow and you come into close contact with so many people you will have at least five numbers by the end of the night. Or is that just me?
I know everyone has their preferences and there are plenty of other places I’ve enjoyed a drink at (on one occasion pub golf resulted in them all in one night): The Find, Buffalo Club, Winnie’s, Searle Lane, Brazz, Vinyl, Tardis, Zephyr, The Naughty Penguin, Sky Bar, Barmuda, The Pig & Whistle, Monty’s, Loco etc. There’s honestly a watering hole for every type of person.
Aside from drinking and getting nice shiny stickers from each bar to attach to your bank card, there are other ways to really feel like a local.
Add Queenstown Trading on Facebook for absolutely anything: accommodation, transport, clothes, phones, chickens… you want it, someone will have it. It’s also a good way to find out about local deals (usually from hairdressers) and ask for any help with items that may have been drunkenly lost.
Pick up a copy of the Lakes Weekly Bulletin on a Tuesday. It’s free (have a look outside Betty’s Liquor Store on Cow Lane) and is also out online on a Monday. All the latest housing, jobs and goods are listed but move quickly to avoid disappointment.
Or The Source. A great little booklet that’s released monthly and can be found hanging around in coffee shops etc. With a monthly theme they have come cool articles in there and offer some really good local information and advice. During the winter they also released the Winter Survival Guide which was full of vouchers providing great deals at loads of restaurants and bars in town.
Walk Queenstown Hill. I’ve done it. I hated it. I moaned every step of the way, whilst my boyfriend dangled a bottle of water just out of arms reach in order to encourage me forward. Sicko. The view really is something though and it makes you appreciate what a beautiful place you live in. Treat yourself to a pint at 1876 afterwards and you’ll be even happier.
Live in Avalon. Something I’m happy to say I haven’t done. A massive house up Avalon Cresecent in Fernhill that sleeps hundreds by the sounds of it. When you’re bored of hostel life but can’t afford a proper home; it appears many move to this dorm type property. Not my idea of fun and luckily, I managed to avoid it. However, I do hear they throw a wicked party.
Work at the call centre. Not actually a bad job if you’re good at it apparently and the wage is above average for QT. When work’s hard to come by, mostly everyone drops in and trys their hand. Again, I avoided it but mostly everyone I met had given it a shot.
Fergburger or Fergbaker at 2am. Regularly.
Scrumpy purchases from Henry’s. It’s $9.00 a bottle and it gets you very drunk, very quickly. When your wage is low and your drinking threshold is super high due to the amount of alcohol consumed weekly, this is a godsend.
Queenstown Taxi loyalty card. Everything is within walking distance here, but mostly always uphill. Rate 3 saved me on many occassions.
Many life long locals would disagree with mostly everything I put here. If you haven’t lived in QT for more than 10 years you’re still a tourist, according to many. This isn’t a comprehensive list of how to become a local. This is my opinion on little things that helped me settle in, or what I think others can relate to.
Personally, I feel I was a local as I lived and worked there rather than passing through. Can I claim to have contributed massively to the community? Nope. But I did make a damn good pita.