Monday, July 25, 2011

Skyline Gondola Restaurant

The one thing that Queenstown has more of than mountains is restaurants and plenty of great ones to boot.  For the first time visitor, making the choice of where to satisfy the palate could leave one feeling a bit snowed under.  So for those who are trying to escape the avalanche of eateries, here is my utmost recommendation and in my opinion a ‘must do’ when visiting Queenstown.
Situated at the top of Bobs Peak and reached by a Gondola, the aptly named Skyline Restaurant boasts stunning views of Queenstown, the vast stretches of the Lake Wakatipu and grand mountain ranges.
When my partner Ben and I arrived for dinner, night had fallen and Queenstown twinkled prettily with multi-coloured lights. Having been told that the dinner was a sumptuous buffet where there was a fine line between ‘helping yourself’ and ‘gorging’, we’d spent the day starving ourselves and the smell of the wonderful food had our stomachs suddenly rumbling like freight trains. 
But before we ate we had something exciting to attend – The Kiwi Haka show!  Having been warned that we may be asked to get on stage to play with poi or help do the Haka, we headed first to the cosy bar and ordered a couple of strong vodkas to help with our confidence. When it was time, we were summoned to the show by haunting music echoed across the room.  After we were given a formal welcome by Maoris in traditional dress we were led into a small hall with tiered seating and began watching the wonderful show. Whilst the ladies performed mesmerising songs, the men performed fierce looking Hakas and demonstrated how to use their deadly primitive weapons from tribal days. After the spine tingling show and with my body all covered in goose bumps we finally headed off for a feed.
We began our delicious food journey at the starter buffet where I loaded my plate with fresh juicy prawns in pesto and hunks of cooked salmon with a side of olives and peppers. For the second course it was hard to choose between the succulent lamb, the venison curry and the moist looking pork, so I decided it would be best to have all three.  These were complemented by carrots with orange, pumpkin mash and crispy roast potatoes. After I’d finished, my stomach feeling rather full, Ben headed up for a second helping and I was slightly envious of his larger tum that had the ability to hold more than mine. I jealously watched him wolf down his seconds, looking like the cat who’d got the cream, which gave my food time to settle and make room for dessert. I returned from final trip to the buffet with a giant chunk of pavlova, a huge dollop of crème brulee and a soft chocolate mousse that was calling me to try it.
Although I was slightly tempted by the gigantic cheese board, I decided that even a mere sniff of food would make my stomach burst and made the wise decision to head home. I was quite surprised that the Gondola held our weight though I’m sure I heard the cable straining on the way down as we sat like two happy fat buddhas rubbing our bellies.
A visit to the Skyline Gondola is an eating experience rather than just a meal and with a choice of food to suit everybody is highly recommended to visitors and locals alike.
Skyline Gondola costs $25 return (YHA price). YHA offers $10 off Gondola, buffet dinner (so $66 for YHA) and $10 off Gondola, dinner and kiwi haka (so $100 for YHA). Book at either the YHA Queenstown Central or the YHA Queenstown Lakefront and receive a free glass of house wine or tap beer with your booking!