Why Winter is the Perfect Time to Enjoy Summer in Queenstown, New Zealand - 5 Things To Do in Queenstown this Summer

Starting to feel the chill in the air? Escape from the gloom and winter cold and head on to Queenstown, New Zealand for an adventurous getaway and treat yourself to amazing food, breathtaking views and fun outdoor activities. Summer season in New Zealand starts from December and lasts until February. It’s the best time to soak in its beauty and experience everything Queenstown has to offer while leaving the winter weather behind.

Looking for things to do in Queenstown in the summer? Whether you want to indulge in some world-class cuisine, enjoy a fine wine, take a relaxing walk, or experience an unforgettable adrenaline rush, you're in the right place. Here are 5 of our top Queenstown attractions to experience this summer.

Have an Unforgettable Meal at The Sherwood Restaurant

As a global tourism hotspot, Queenstown restaurants offer an exciting range of traditional and exotic cuisine. The Sherwood is one of Queenstown's favorite restaurants, with an incredible menu which includes mouth-watering delicacies like steamed mussels in a prawn and ginger butter, and a pan-fried salmon steak accompanied by twice-baked potatoes. The restaurant, which is located on Frankton Road, about 4-km from the city centre, is set in 3-acres of alpine hillside with fantastic views over Lake Wakatipu. They have their own vegetable garden so clients can enjoy really fresh seasonal vegetables, and after your meals, why not join one of their relaxation or yoga classes?

Take a Leap with AJ Hackett

For those looking for adventure, why not experience one of the most exhilarating attractions in Queenstown. The pioneers in bungy jumping, AJ Hackett, offer an unparalleled choice of different Queenstown bungy jumps. Choose to jump from the historic Kawarau Bridge, 25-minutes north of Queenstown, or make a 45-minute drive and take the plunge down through the gorge and into the Nevis River. You can even enjoy the thrill right in the city centre where you can experience the incredible 400-metre jump from the Skyline Gondola. No wonder bungy jumping is one of the most popular attractions in Queenstown.

Savor Asian Flavors at Madam Woo

After a busy day adventuring, try Madam Woo on Lower Ballarat Street. A local favourite, this modern restaurant specializes in delicious Chinese and Malaysian street food. The menu is large and varied and the atmosphere is relaxed and fun. Their signature dishes include Madam's Rendang with Nasi Lemak and the famous Hawker rolls, and the veranda offers a great spot to sit and enjoy watching the world go by.

Experience a Queenstown Vineyard Tour

No stay in Queenstown would be complete without a visit to one of the region's famous vineyards and enjoying some of New Zealand’s world-renowned wine. Wine-tasting tours are one of the most celebrated Queenstown tourist attractions and there are a great variety of options available. Choose from a private or group tour for a half or full day, and some companies offer personalized tours to suit your schedule and interests. Some tours include transport to numerous vineyards situated in the area, and some include lunch. There is a wine and cheese tasting option right in the centre of the city or you can choose a self guided tour of the local vineyards by bicycle. There is even an exhilarating helicopter tour available. Whichever option you choose you will enjoy spectacular scenery, warm hospitality, excellent food, and the chance to learn about the winemaking process as well as to sample some of the finest local produce.

Set Off on an Unforgettable Hike

Nestled within the Remarkables mountain range on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, the spectacular scenery around Queenstown makes walking and hiking among the best free Queenstown activities. There are many different walks which depart from the town centre including the Queenstown Hill Time Walk which takes about 3-hours and offers impressive panoramic views from the summit. The 4-hour Ben Lomond walk is also easily accessible from just outside of town and offers magnificent views of the mountain and the lake, and for the fit a hike up to the top is well worth the effort. There are many different walking and hiking options in the area from short easy strolls to challenging overnight adventures, and the summer is a great time to get out and enjoy the scenery around Queenstown. If you need to arrange transport to the beginning of a trail, many local operators run shuttle services, and there are a range of Queenstown rental car providers based in the town centre or at Queenstown Airport.


Note from Aimee: Today's blog post was written by guest writer Alex Cordier. Alex is based in Auckland, New Zealand and has worked in a variety of sales roles within the tourism and hospitality sectors in the country. Writing and traveling are her passion, and these have led her to several parts across Asia and North America.  She enjoys writing about anything under the sun and has been published in various websites on topics ranging from travel, home living, to health and lifestyle. 


Type A Trips' Top 10 Tips to Know Before You Go to Italy

After 10 years of traveling to Italy, I've compiled a list of things every traveler must know before visiting this incredible country. With these tips in hand, travelers are bound to have a much easier time navigating the many confusing customs of Italy. 

1. Ordering in Italy

Reviewing the menu at an Italian restaurant can be confusing, especially with all of the different courses. Let me start by saying, no you do not have to order one of each! Typically ordering 2 courses from any area of the menu is acceptable, with dessert being optional.  Here's a quick breakdown: Apertivo = pre dinner drink | Antipasto = appetizer (I always think of it as the pre pasta dish) | Primo = first course, usually a pasta dish | Secondo = second course, usually a meat dish with or without sides (often sides must be ordered separately, on the menu as "Il Contorno" | Dolce = dessert. Personally, I usually order an apertivo (appetizer) and a primo (pasta dish), maybe some dessert and definitely wine. Let's talk wine for a second... now I'm not a big drinker, but one thing you'll quickly realize in Italy is that wine is cheaper than water. Seriously. So with both lunch and dinner I often order a 1/2 or full liter of house red or white wine (vino de casa rosso or blianco). Unlike many other countries, house wine in Italy is actually delicious, often locally grown and completely acceptable to order, usually costing less than a single glass of wine in the states. A couple final tips about ordering drinks - soft drinks rarely if ever come with ice (good luck asking for some) and when ordering water, you'll want to specify "no gas" if you want still water.  I found this excellent blog, Postcards from Italy, that goes into even more detail in their post Ordering at a Restaurant in Italy: Rules and Exceptions

2. Tipping in Italy

As throughout most of Europe, tipping expectations are very different from American standards. Here's a breakdown of the most common places to tip: Restaurants - Italians rarely tip except for at really nice restaurants and even then, 10% is considered a good tip. Check your bill first before tipping, as some places state "Servizio Incluso", meaning the tip is already included and there is no need to tip anything additional. Tourism has unfortunately changed things slightly and restaurants catering to tourists can expect more, so if you receive good service, rounding up your bill would be enough rather than a percentage of your total or a few $1-2 coins (ex. Bill is $22, leave $25). Taxis - Simply round up to the nearest dollar, no more than $1-2. Bellman - the same as the US, $1-2 per bag is acceptable. Tour Guides - For paid tours, tipping an additional $5-10 euro is sufficient, but not necessary, where free guides should definitely be tipped if they have done a nice job. For more tipping tips, check out Rick Steve's Tipping in Europe guide. 

3. Deciphering Your Restaurant Bill

Understanding your check at the end of a meal is another one of Italy's great mysteries... just kidding, it's actually fairly straight forward if you know what you're looking at. There are 2 words to look out for when reviewing a restaurant's menu often in tiny, fine print: Coperto = cover charge and Servizio = service charge/included tip. You may see, only one, both or none of these depending on the restaurant and you are more likely to be charged these costs in high tourism areas and larger cities. The Coperto is charged per person usually ranging from $1-5 euro and the Servizio is usually a percentage of the total bill often around 10%.  You should definitely review the menu or ask the host prior to dining if these charges are included, which is completely acceptable to do.  There is little you can do about these charges, it's kind of like our tax and tip in the US, except that it is completely arbitrary and up to the restaurant how much they want to charge, if anything. However, although I've never experienced this, according to Europe Off the Beaten Path, if you ask the host before sitting if there is a charge and you refuse to dine because of the charge, they may offer to remove that cost from your bill if you dine with them. 

4. Customer Service Expectations

The simple answer is, don't have any expectations when it comes to service and you'll have a nice time. Customer service is relatively non existent throughout Italy, it's just not a cultural expectation like it is in The States. Don't get me wrong, no one has ever yelled at me or thrown things, I just rarely find kind, attentive, curteous service when I'm in Italy - which I want to say doesn't bother me much if I set my expectations appropriately. I find Italians to be much more willing to go after what they want when they want it rather than waiting for someone to figure it out for them - so when I'm in a restaurant I make eye contact and flag someone down when I want to order, when I need a refill or when I want my check. If I wait around for someone to come on my timing, I could be waiting there all night... literally, servers will abandone you at the end of a meal until you ask for the check as they do not want you to feel rushed out the door so simply saying "Il conto per favore!" (check please!) will do the trick

5. Bartering and Haggling

Anytime you are shopping in local markets like the San Lorenzo Market in Florence and even local shops, you are welcome (and often expected to) barter for the right price. Through our travels we have bought dozens of items like leather bags, wallets, shoes, scarves and hats to take home but I rarely ever pay the asked price unless I'm shopping at a major retail store. Here's the strategies that I go with: Shop around for similar items to get a feel for an average price, wait for the shop owner to throw out a price no matter how many times they ask me how much I want to pay, offer half that to start the haggling process, bundle multiple items together for a single group price and always be willing to walk away.  It's a process that can be intimidating and exhausting initially, but once you get the hang of it you'll feel like a local. For some additional training on the art of Italian bartering, here's a useful article from ReidsItaly.com - The Fine Art of Haggling

6. Avoiding Scams and Petty Theft

In all of my time traveling to Italy, I have never been swindled, scammed or felt in danger (ok there was that one time on a train to Naples I watched a guy stick a needle in his arm to get high...), but petty crime is common and happens often to unsuspecting, aloof tourists. By being aware of what to look for, securing my valuables and never letting my guard down in large crowds I've been able to avoid theft so far. I would highly suggest reading my blog post Travel Safety: Keeping Your Things Secure While On Vacation which outlines all of my personal tricks when traveling abroad and Rick Steve's list of common cons Tourist Scams and Rip-Offs.  In addition, do not accept anything that is being handed to you as you walk by as you will be hassled to pay for it (I've even had someone try to hand me a dead leaf), don't fall for ordering the "Italian Special" at restaurants unless you know the exact cost and what it includes first (my husband fell for that one once) and don't buy the knock off purses from the illegal street vendors as it is illegal and you can get ticketed by police. 

7. Traveling Between Cities

When traveling between cities in Italy, busses and trains are often your best and easiest option. It's helpful to look at both options and not just assume that the train is your best bet: for example, I prefer to fly into Pisa to get to Florence (it's usually cheaper) and there are large, air conditioned charter buses that take you directly to the Florence city center for around $10 euro and it keeps me from having to haul my luggage through busy train terminals. I find the bus systems to be more enjoyable than the trains, inexpensive and at times faster than trains. Once you are in a city, you will easily be able to get around on foot, by metro in larger cities like Milan and Rome or by taxi when absolutely necessary. 

8. Speaking Italian

In most tourist cities like Florence, Rome, Venice and Milan, you won't have any problems getting by with just English, but in smaller towns it can be much harder. Knowing key phrases is helpful no matter where you are and downloading an English - Italian translator app will definitely come in handy. Fodor's has a list of Basic Italian Phrases that I'd suggest printing and practicing, but don't worry if your Italian isn't perfect, for the most part they appreciate that you try. 

9. Sunday & Monday Closures and Dead Hours

It's really important to note that as a rule, Italy as a country doesn't really care that you are visiting and will not be there to serve you at all hours because you are an honorary guest. On the contrary, most shops are closed Sundays, museums are often closed on Mondays, shop owners close their doors from 1-4pm daily for a long lunch and a nap (known as La Pausa) and shops also usually close for a half to whole day at some point randomly in the week. In addition, time in Italy is merely a suggestion, so don't be surprised if a shop says they will reopen at 4pm but they don't arrive until 4:30 or 5 (and there's no point in complaining about it to anyone, they will just ignore you).  These facts can be rather frustrating for a Type A planner like myself, but you quickly learn to get over it, drink a few glasses of wine at lunch and cheerfully buzz your way through the afternoon. 

10. What to Wear When Visiting Churches

If you plan on checking out any of the incredible churches while in Italy (which you absolutely should), you'll need to dress accordingly. Women and men are expected to have both their knees and shoulders covered when entering a religious building no matter how hot it is outside - and yes they are very strict about this and expect that these customs be respected by all visitors. Don't make the mistake of waiting in line for hours just to be turned away at the door. I always bring along a light scarf to tie around my shoulders and a light wrap skirt/sarong to tie around my waist and my husband will often wear light travel pants that convert to shorts on days we know we are visiting churches. Some places do offer plastic ponchos that they will force you to wear in order to enter if you are not in compliance, but that's if you are lucky; you have no clue how many times I've seen people standing in line for 30+ minutes in the sweltering heat just to be told to go home because of their booty shorts and tank tops. 

11. Choosing the Right Gelato 

Ok, this is a bonus tip.  You can find gelato all over Italy on practically every street corner, but not all gelato is equally worthy of your money. Here's a tip - do not buy gelato from any places that have storefront freezer stands piled high with overly decorated mounds of gelato. These are well known tourist traps with over priced, underwhelming cones of mediocrity. The real places, the good places, make their gelato in house and often house the gelato in silver tins below the counter so you can't even see all the pretty colors.

Check out my travel guides to these amazing Italian destinations:

Lake Como, Italy

Lake Como, Italy

Cash & Cards - What to Use When Traveling Abroad

A good friend of mine, Guen, is leaving for the Philippines in a few weeks and she asked me if I had any suggestions about what to do when it comes to bringing money. I went into Type A - LET ME TELL YOU EVERYTHING - mode and about ten minutes later when I was done she said, "Wow, I should have asked you a month ago." So that's when I figured more people needed information about how to use their money when traveling internationally and I should find a way to share it. Luckily for you, I have a blog for that! I'll tell you all of the steps that I take to ensure my money is safe before I leave and what I do when I get there, using cash, credit and debit cards. 


Taking some time to prep your money before you get on the plane will save you a great deal of time and hassle when traveling internationally. Here's my checklist of pre-travel money matters. 

Put the Right Cards in Your Wallet. 

Bring 1 Debit Card.

The debit card is only for taking out cash from ATMs, not for making purchases. More about this later. 

And 2 Credit Cards.

I always bring 1 travel credit card with no foreign transaction fees, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Not only does it give me double points on travel expenses and restaurants, it also has an embedded chip for added security and is widely used throughout European countries. There are many places that don't even accept swipe only cards since they've transitioned to the new systems to support the chip technology. 

The other card is a backup card in case something happens to my primary card or I bring it along because it provides me with other perks, like a specific hotel's card that I'll be visiting or an Amex because it gets me into the airport lounges. It can really be anything, but it's always a good idea to have a backup. 

Don't Own a Travel Credit Card? Get One. 

I highly suggest getting one if you are a frequent traveler. Most credit cards charge a minimum of 3% for every transaction you charge outside of the US and that adds up very quickly! You are literally losing money by using it. When my husband went on our honeymoon in 2010, I didn't know any better and used my bank credit card for everything and ended up spending over $300 in fees alone! I still get frustrated when I think about it. Here's a link to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, my favorite travel credit card by far. 


Contact Your Bank & Credit Card Companies.

Tell Your Bank You're Leaving. 

It's really important to let your bank know that you are leaving the country so your card doesn't get declined for suspicious purchases. There's nothing worse than being half way around the world, trying to buy lunch and your card gets declined and you don't even have a phone to call them and tell them it's you! Calling ahead of time helps to avoid such a mess. Most banks even allow you to tell them what dates you'll be where so they can still watch out for fraudulent charges made while you travel. 

Increase Your Cash Withdrawal Limit on Your ATM CARD.

Did you know that you can request increase how much cash you can take out at one time? When I travel, I increase mine to $500, that way I can go to the ATM as few times as possible.  Not only is it dangerous to continuously take out wads of cash, it's time consuming and extremely expensive! Most ATM cards only allow you to take out $300 US dollars per day, which is normally perfectly fine, until you are overseas. Allow me to explain how you get completely (excuse my language) screwed every time you take money from an ATM.

  • You get charged the ATM's fee, which can be upwards of $5-10 US dollars per transaction depending on how touristy of an area the ATM is located. 
  • You get charged your bank's fee for using a non branch ATM, which again usually costs somewhere between $3-5 US dollars.
  • Then you get charged a foreign transaction fee for converting US dollars to whatever currency you are getting out. Somewhere around 3%.
  • Let's add that up, shall we? Let's say you take out the max amount: $300 dollars which only equates to roughly 273 euro. You get charged a $5 ATM fee, plus your bank charges you a $3 non branch fee, plus 3% for the foreign transaction ($8). That's a minimum of $16 in charges every single time you take out $300 from an ATM! Not cool bro. Instead, just increase your ATM's limit and stop forking over so much hard earned dough to your bank. 

Keep as Little as Possible in Your Checking Account.

I only keep what I need in my checking account while I travel. I try to calculate how much cash I will need to take out during my trip, what will need to be in there for automated payments/bills, plus a $500 buffer. Anything above that temporarily gets dropped into a separate savings account. Why? In the off chance that my ATM card gets stolen and hacked into, I'm losing the minimum amount of money possible.  You can always transfer more in if needed, but I do suggest trying not to log into your bank account at all unless you are on a personal device with completely secure internet connectivity. 

If you're a frequent traveler, you might consider getting a dummy checking account. It's essentially a second checking account that you only put money into when you travel, otherwise it stays virtually empty.  This also hinders the shopaholics out there from going vacation crazy and over spending, acting like money just flows out of the Arno River (not that I could ever relate to that...).


Make Copies of All of Your Cards.

Make front and back photo copies of all of your cards. Give these copies to someone you trust at home who can locate them if something happens. If you lose your belongings or your wallet gets stolen, you'll want to have all of the contact phone numbers and card numbers ready to file a claim as quickly as possible. This just gives you piece of mind that if something bad happens, you have the documentation available to fix it quickly. 


Bring $100 - $200 US Dollars in Small Bills.  

It's usually a good idea to have some cash on hand when you're at airports or in case you find yourself in a pinch without an ATM in sight. I've definitely needed to exchange some money during layovers in a country I wasn't visiting, in places where only cash was accepted, but that's really it.  I would absolutely not bring more than the minimum for a handful reasons.

  1. Most places/countries probably won't take it.
  2. The exchange rate for physical dollars to the local currency is outrageously terrible, especially at those colorful little booths you see in airports and major tourist areas. You can do it at an actual bank for a better rate, but you usually have to show them a passport and fill out all kinds of paperwork, which is a hassle.
  3. You're better off just taking money out of an ATM when you arrive.  
  4. It's dangerous to be carrying around too much cash and it can make you vulnerable to petty theft. 



So you've done everything to prepare to travel internationally with no money problems, but what's the plan while you're there? Here's my tips on when to use what and why.

Use Your Credit Card Wherever Possible. 

As long as you have a card with no foreign transaction fees, using credit while traveling is the easiest and safest way to go. Credit card companies closely monitor spending, looking for suspicious behavior and it is much easier to dispute false charges than it is to get your own money back from a checking account.  

Most credit cards also have added security features that make them harder to steal than a debit card.  I love that I can look back on my credit card statement to see all of the charges rather than sifting through piles of receipts when I get home.  It's also important to note that most travel credit cards offer travel protection and additional insurance for certain purchases and car rentals (please read your contract carefully as every card is different). This gives me great piece of mind while traveling knowing that I've got a reputable company that I can contact if something goes wrong along the way. 

Always Pay In the Local Currency 

When abroad, you will most likely get asked if you want to pay in the local currency or in US dollars. Be sure to always choose the local currency because you don't know what the conversion rates are set at and it's never in your favor. 

Use Your Debit Card to Get Out Cash.

You can't always use your card, so you'll want to have at least some cash on hand.  Like I said, I prefer to get out a larger amount of cash as few times as possible while I'm traveling. It can be worth your time to find the best ATM to use, so you may need to do a stakeout of the area. I always go with ATMs that belong to larger bank chains where possible (preferably ones outside of an actual bank branch).  I also like to find the cheapest ATM around, so I will ask local shop owners if they can suggest an ATM to use or I'll even check out a few and if the fees are too high I just move on to the next one.  Since you can't request small bills from an ATM, I will use my larger bills when I make bigger purchases or exchange it at my hotel, where they almost always provide you with what you need to break larger denominations. 

A couple things to note:

  • Be sure not to take out more than you are going to actually be able to spend or you end up buying a lot of chocolate at airport duty free stores because the exchange rate to get your US dollars back is pretty worthless.  On the other hand, my mom really loves it when I pull that gigantic Toblerone out of my suitcase ;)
  • Remember that you have to take into account the conversion rate, so if you have your ATM limit set at $500 US, you will need to choose an amount that similarly equates that amount in the local currency.  For example, $500 US converts to only 320 British Pounds or 758 New Zealand Dollars. If you choose an amount higher than your limit, you will get denied and have to start over.  To be safe, I try to estimate $30-50 lower than the exact conversion from US dollars to take into account fees and whatever exchange rate the bank is providing. 

Use Cash When You Can't Use a Card

Not everyone accepts credit cards, especially internationally, so you'll definitely want to keep cash on you.  Businesses have to pay extra fees to utilize credit card services, so rural areas, markets and small restaurants often won't even accept any type of electronic payment so it's important to have cash on you at all times. Having cash and exact change is also really important when bartering because credit cards show that you have more money to spend than you are saying and asking for change after talking someone down to a lower price is way less effective and can be seen as rude. I also utilize cash for tipping around the hotel, taxis and restaurants, when making small purchases like buying post cards, or when a business has a minimum spend amount in order to use my card and I am not planning on meeting it. 



  • DO NOT buy travelers checks - nobody does that anymore
  • DO NOT exchange money before you leave the US, just get it when you get there
  • DO NOT bring a ton of cash with you
  • DO NOT exchange all of your money at the airport
  • DO NOT carry all of your cash with you; leave what you don't need in the hotel safe with your passport and other valuables
  • DO NOT use ATMs in secluded areas or at night
  • DO NOT log into your bank or credit card account in an internet cafe
  • DO NOT break large bills in obscure places unless you know the exact change you should receive


Well folks, that's my personal list of what I do when I travel. I truly hope that it's helpful and if you have any tips you'd like to share with me and other travelers, please leave a comment! I'd love to hear from you. Happy Travels!