Being in a pressroom for too long is liable to give even the most seasoned editor cabin fever. Desks start to resemble nests and your eyes feel like they did when trying to focus in too long on one of those Stereograms from the 90s. For us, getting out of the office was a must after a hectic summer bouncing between New York, the UK, Europe and Los Angeles. Australia and New Zealand have been on our radar for about 2 years now (see our ON THE ROAD issue from 2007 or click here for some of the highlights) so we decided to pack our bags, along with some snowboard gear, and head off to the Southern Hemisphere to catch the remaining bit of snow, visit with some old friends, and most importantly dig up some new material from the countries that brought us Modular Records, Ksubi and of course, The Lord of the Rings.
FIT FOR A QUEEN
Our journey began in the seemingly sleepy village of Queenstown, New Zealand. Unlike mountain towns in the U.S., Queenstown boasts a population comprised largely of various ex-patriots caught in somewhat of an existential crisis that oddly makes sense when they tell you that this is a place that sucks you in. There’s a mysterious energy that envelopes you; the locals know it and visitors can feel it. Those who’ve chosen to stay will tell you that they can’t explain why, but will offer up a subtle quip alluding to the fact that making this place “home,” in a sense, just happened to them.
The ominous landscape juts out from every corner. It’s late spring, but the only indication that it is are tiny buds forming on the trees and the din of rushing water that indicates the thaw is eminent. Most travelers wouldn’t know the difference. For everyone back home, it’s still summer and doing the math to try and figure out what season it is in New Zealand would have an amateur guessing that it’s the dead of winter. That, and the fact that as far as the eye can see, every single peak is shrouded in white from an exceptionally late snow season.
Every-single-square-inch of Queenstown is ripe for exploring. From the shores of Lake Wakatipu, to the peaks of The Remarkables mountain range, the place is an adrenaline junkie’s paradise. Within a 15 minute walk in any direction, there are dozens of outfitters itching to fulfill your adventurous fix ranging from air and snow to terra firma. Being avid snowboarders, we made a b-line for The Remarkables resort where Burton recently built a natural-feature snowboard park. Sourcing materials from the rock-based mountain range and local forests, each rail, box, table and even a small hut, is organic. It fits perfectly on a mountain that provided much of the backdrop for The Lord of The Rings trilogy, a sharp peak that virtually cuts a swath between the clouds that hover above the valley floor.
On The Itinerary:
Hotel Novatel Queenstown Lakeside / Marine Parade, Queenstown: Clean, modern and right on the shore of Lake Wakatipu. The view alone is worth the price.
Captains Restaurant / 11 The Mall: Opposite the Loius Vuitton store in the main area of town, Captains is a high-end, cozy restaurant bordering on pirate bourgeoisie.
Joe’s Garage / 15 Camp St.: Virtually the only place to eat at early morning is this local breakfast joint, which serves up some pre-fun fuel along with some of the best coffee in Queenstown.
Bunker Restaurant / Cow Lane: The lack of an official address and a kitschy cellar door entrance is a stark contrast to the impeccable wine selection and unique entrees.
The Remarkables Resort / www.nzski.com/remarkables: A white-knuckled drive up a dirt mountain road leads to one of New Zealand’s premier resorts replete with the Burton Stash.