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Queenstown: my picks for where to eat

I’ve visited Queenstown twice in the past year and have made this list of some great places to eat down here…

The Cow

This casual, rustic restaurant is literally in a cow shed. At the end of Cow Lane, you won’t be surprised to learn that dairy farmers used to walk their old girls along this narrow lane to the milking shed more than 100 years ago. Today you enter though a split-in-two-halves stable door. The menu hasn’t changed since 1976 and its pizzas are well worth writing home about. We ate here twice! But on my last visit I had the best chicken and mushroom I’ve ever tasted.

Queenstown restaurant

This former cow shed is over 100 years old and the pizzas are fab!


This fast food burger joint is an institution and has had media reviews naming it the best burger place on the planet – and I don’t honestly know why. Sure they’re freshly sizzled while you wait, but I’ve had just as good at the likes of Burger Fuel (although they are not in Queenstown, so maybe that’s why!) Fergs has a line out the door from about 10am and that lasts into the wee small hours. But don’t be worried, it goes fast. We only waited about 10 minutes for our number to come up on the screen that displays inside and outside. They also have Mrs Ferg next door selling pastries and cakes and now a new Fergs Gelataria for when you have a hankering for ice cream.

Fergs Queenstown

The lunch line at Fergburger. If you find a space you can eat outside

Madame Woo

Josh Emmett’s second restaurant in Queenstown (the first is Rata which is also highly recommended) is styled around Asian street food. Only it’s not sold from a food truck but in a very stylish restaurant a stone’s throw from the lake. It’s always busy so wait upstairs with a ginger mojito. The Hawker Rolls are a favourite and they have small sharing plates of deliciousness thanks to chef Jane Leong’s home style fare. It would pay to make a reservation though.


The good news is you don’t have to be loaded enough to stay the night. Just pop in like we did for a drink and a nibble. We blew in through the velvet black curtain on a blustery night and sat by the fire to enjoy a cocktail before braving the elements for dinner. The black squid ink tempura prawns were possibly the best small plate I’ve ever tasted. It’s terribly posh and a fun way to start – or end – an evening.

The Ballarat Trading Co

This is a great gastro pub to watch a rugby game at – as we did. Right in town on the pedestrianised mall, it’s near Madam Woo. I had mixed results with my menu choices, actually sending my duck liver pate back as all I could taste was alcohol. They told me it’s made with Madeira and was meant to taste like that, but I found it inedible (and I’m a big pate fan). However my eye fillet steak was cooked to medium-rare perfection and was accompanied by yummy mustard potato gratin and a peppercorn jus. My mouth is watering just writing about it! I also liked the opportunity to take a flight of local pinot noir of four different vineyards for only $16. That was enough to last me through my steak!

Bistro pub Queenstown

In or out, it’s a great spot for bistro pub fare

Ballarat Queenstown

My four pinot noirs! Perfect.

The Boat Shed Cafe and Bistro

Further out towards Frankton, right on the waters’ edge this is a perfect spot no matter the weather. On a snowy, blustery day when the lake is tumultuous white caps or on a perfect blue sky day, sit in the glass covered conservatory or outside and enjoy cafe fare from platters to ala carte dishes or just a brioche bun and a coffee.

Note: we tried but failed to get into Rata. If you’re looking for a great steak I did really enjoy mine at The Ballarat Trading Co, but Rata, Botswana Butchery and Jervois Steak House are all neck-in-neck for best steaks in Queenstown. If you have an opinion, let me know!


In case you want to read a little more, here’s my post about exploring between Queenstown and Wanaka in 5 days in our Maui Motorhome, where we stayed and what we got up to 🙂








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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!