Kawarau Village - located on the Frankton Arm of Lake Wakatipu - Queenstown, New Zealand.
Kawarau Village - located on the Frankton Arm of Lake Wakatipu - Queenstown, New Zealand. Chris McLennan

Luxury in the land of adventure

Say the words, "bungy jumping", "zip-lining" or "jet-boat river-rafting" and one destination leaps to mind: Queenstown, New Zealand, South Island. The place known as "the adventure capital of the world".

From the moment you leave Queenstown's small and pretty airport and take in the full-force splendour of The Remarkables mountain range in Otago, you know you are in for an almighty good time. Whether it be jumping off a platform in the sky attached to a bouncy rope, paragliding serenely over the mountains and forests or cruising the omnipresent Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is going to deliver.

We had more laid-back recreations in mind. A touch of luxe in a hotel on the lakefront, and the Hilton Hotel and Spa, just a five-minute drive from the airport was our dash-to destination. Leaping, luging and lunging is one thing, supreme comfort, fine-dining, top NZ wines and breath-taking views is quite another. Looking out from a private balcony at the ever-changing colours of the mountains - blue, green, mauve - while sipping a local pinot noir? More our thing.

Queenstown's Hilton is a two-in-one experience: The Hilton Queenstown Resort and Spa, and Doubletree by Hilton Queenstown are joined at the hip, with villas and apartments linked by a walking/cycling track. The entire property is a village: Kawarau Village.

A five-minute drive takes you into the heart of Queenstown with its glam restaurants, buzzing bars, stylish galleries and elegant shops. A shuttle bus or water taxi will also get you there in style.

We were reluctant to move from the property for our first day.

First up, the signature restaurant, Wakatipu Grill, to the bar area with its stylish layout and funky chandeliers presiding over a long, timber well-stocked bar. Sitting inside by a flickering fire-pit looking out to the lake where a happy crowd was rocking it by another glowing fire-pit, made us feel privileged to be part of the affable vibe.

In the dining area long tables were filled with more contented people sniffing, swirling and sipping at a pre-dinner wine tasting. With vintages from Otago's best winemakers in the 1000-strong wine-cellar you can see why wine is king here.

At Me&Mee restaurant the Chinese dishes, from Peking duck to the szechuan chilli fish fillets, are a draw-card, and Stacks Pub delivers what you expect - burgers, pizzas and - where would we be without it in NZ? - slow-cooked lamb.

Then there is the tempting option of in-room dining by your own fire. The flames are so gorgeously comforting they can even distract (just for a moment) from the lake and mountain views outside.


Bedrooms are large, overlooking the lake, and the handsomely appointed bathrooms have Crabtree and Evelyn products. A kitchen area (should you cook, you probably won't) has all the facilities for a multi-course feast.

A massage or swim in the heated pool at Eforea spa will ease any over-indulgence guilt.

Research before you go will enhance the experience, and Hilton now has a program to help you explore the vicinity of your choice anywhere in the world. It will show you cultural highlights, food precincts and where to find the best shops and destination guides to make your Hilton visit more enjoyable.

The Queenstown Hilton property guide is: discover.hilton.com/guides/queenstown/.

More at: Hilton.com/Hotels/Queenstown.

The writer was a guest of Hilton.