I live in Queenstown and have for a long time. Beautiful, amazing, stunning as it is, I sometimes, just sometimes, need to get away.
For me the ultimate quick getaway from the Queenstown bubble is the South Coast.
Rugged, quirky, rural and very real. As soon as I exit my car and walk out onto a vastly serene South coast beach, my shoulders instantly relax and I breath in a huge gulp of the cool salty air.
Where to stay
You can’t beat the south coast on a good day, it’s absolutely magic and if you aren’t lucky enough to know someone with a bach in Riverton or Colac Bay then I would look at renting one for the weekend and base yourself in either place to explore the area.
What to do
There are a few must do’s which involve food, coffee (of course!) and epic scenery. Do yourself a favour and get up early to catch the sunrise over the estuary. Not a morning person? Then head to Tihaka Sands beach for the sunset and I promise you won’t be disappointed. Mrs Clarkes Cafè on Rivertons main street is bursting at the seams with character, good coffee and a great breakfast and they do pizzas and burgers on Friday and Saturday nights, if you’re not already making a beeline for the fish n chip shop (yes.)
Then there’s the old fave Beachhouse Café which has good cuisine and a mighty fine view out to sea.
Here’s my ultimate day down South. After you’ve watched the sunrise somewhere over the estuary, grabbed a steamy coffee and some Southland sushi (that’s cheese rolls peeps) get in your car and head along the coast. Have a surf at ‘trees’ in Colac Bay if that’s your thing, it’s not rare to surf with dolphins. Carry on to Monkey Island or Gemstone Beach (yes there are gems if you have the eye for them) and marvel at the rugged coastline and misty views over the sea out to the Southern Alps. Hungry again already? Do not miss the Orepuki Beach Cafè, polished wooden floors, old school charm and home cooked style meals and baked goods to go giddy over. Seriously, you’ll leave there feeling like you’ve just been at your Grandma’s house (in a good way).
As if your eyes aren’t exploding from the beauty that surrounds you, take a drive off the main road, Cosy Nook is a treat and Whakapatu beach is worth a late afternoon stop for some eerie photos. Now get to Tihaka Sands beach as you near Riverton again and watch the sunset. On a good day the views out to Stewart Island from there are excellent. Or if you’re feeling super energetic walk up Moors Reserve in Riverton, a short bush walk with 360 degree views from the top.
So there you have it. And I could keep going on forever about all the things you can do down South whatever the weather, but there’s your introduction.
So, what are you waiting for? All you need to worry about now is the soundtrack.