We landed in Auckland at approximately 11:30 am and got through immigration and baggage claim within 15 minutes. Our flight to Queenstown was on Air New Zealand from the Domestic terminal so we quickly walked (~15-20 minute walk) over there and checked our bags in for our flight to Queenstown. We went through security and got to the boarding area with time to spare. Boarding was called at exactly 1:30pm after which the flight boarded within 20 minutes and took off in another 20 minutes.
Introduction: Christmas in Hong Kong, and New Year in New Zealand
Cathay Pacific First & Business Class Lounge San Francisco
Cathay Pacific Business Class (Reverse Herringbone) SFO-HKG
The Conrad Hong Kong – Harbor View Twin Room
The Intercontinental Hong Kong – Harbor View Room
The Sights and Sounds of Hong Kong
Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge HKG Airport
Singapore Airlines Business Class HKG-SIN-AKL
Arrival in Queenstown & The Rees Queenstown Luxury Hotel Apartments
Queenstown Day 1: Milford Sound
Queenstown Day 2: Glenorchy
Queenstown Day 3: Crown Range Road & Wanaka
The Hilton Auckland & New Year’s Eve
Hobbiton, New Zealand
Emperor Lounge @ Auckland Airport (via Priority Pass)
The Park Hyatt Sydney – Opera View Deluxe King Room
Virgin Australia Business Class SYD-LAX
The flight to Queenstown was mostly uneventful and smooth. Flight duration was approximately 1.5 hours gate to gate on an Airbus A320 aircraft with a 3-3 seating configuration.
The seat was pretty much basic all the way through with ample leg room for the short flight. Perhaps the most interesting part was the safety video, which featured Bear Grylls. For some reason this flight featured an older video than the one I experienced on the way back to Auckland <shoulder shrug>. But it was very enjoyable!
Here is one I really enjoy watching (yes, I’m a huge fan of Lord of the Rings) 😀
About 25 minutes out of Queenstown, the plane made a turn toward the East Coast of the South Island and the spectacular scenery began to unfold before our eyes. I luckily had a window seat and experienced the sheer awesomeness of the Southern Alps all the way through.
To the right of the plane was the vast Fiordland National Park, which we would later visit on our trip.
About 10 minutes flying East toward Queenstown, it got pretty bumpy and all my pictures started coming out blurry. It was a clear day, but still quite turbulent, which I am assuming is because of the air pockets over the mountains. I proceeded to just taking a video from here on out. Here is a sped up version of the descent into Queenstown, enjoy!
After we landed, we were off the plane and had our bags within 20 minutes. Queenstown is a very small airport so it takes very little time to get from one area to the other. The rental car (Toyota Camry) from Hertz took a matter of 10 minutes to sign for and pick up from the parking lot across from the front of the airport terminal.
The drive from the Queenstown Airport to the Rees took us less than 15 minutes. There was enough cars on the road to follow, making the adjustment to driving on the LEFT side of the road really easy. The hotel is located on the left hand side of Frankton Road, the main street in Queenstown.
We pulled into the driveway and parked the car next to the main building to get checked in. I must apologize here for lack of photos of the reception and front facade of the hotel. It was awfully crowded the first day we came in and so I didn’t feel comfortable taking images with a bunch of people in them and so a few images of the hotel (the ones without my signature) are courtesy of the hotel website:
The highlight of the hotel is the fact that it stands right across from the Remarkables, and perhaps has the clearest views of them from the most rooms. The views are breathtaking from this hotel no matter where you stand. My first impressions of the hotel and the town were that it was much like a ski resort town one would find in Canada or the United States as opposed to Europe. It was certainly modern as opposed to having an old world charm.
Anyway, we walked in to see a packed lobby with many having just arrived on a miniature tour bus, which was parked outside. Though we had to wait a little while, the line actually moved really quickly and as soon as we showed our IDs, we were handed the room keys and were told that the receptionist would meet us at our apartment.
Parking: Parking was included in our rate at the Rees and was located inside a miniature parking garage, which was conveniently attached to the apartment buildings.
We had reserved the 2 Bedroom Superior Apartment via AMEX Travel for around $450 per night (including taxes) for 4 nights. There were 4 of us sharing the room and so it was much cheaper than staying at the hotels downtown, but probably a little more expensive than an Airbnb. The one mistake I made during the booking was that I failed to realize that the Superior 2 bedroom apartment only had 1 bathroom whereas the Executive Apartment (+$50 per night) had 2. This made getting ready to go out a slight challenge, but luckily some of us were jet lagged and woke up early to get ready.
Anyway as soon as we parked our car, the receptionist helped us get our luggage out of our car and escorted us to our room on the first floor of the hotel (Room 121). She was altogether very nice and showed us around the building and our room making sure that everything we were comfortable before leaving.
Walking in to the room, there was a dining table straight ahead and one of the two bedrooms on the right and the other on the left with the bathroom in the hallway in between. The apartment was extremely modern and spacious in design, in line with the rest of the hotel.
It was a bit surprising to note though that the apartment did not have air conditioning, and only had space heaters in each room. This ended up not being problem because of the breezes through the windows and cooler nights, but is definitely something to keep in mind when planning a stay in the summer.
One of the bedrooms had a magnificent view of the Remarkables as seen above, and the other just had a window spanning the top part of the room facing the outer hallway and courtyard.
The bathroom was fairly simple and featured a single vanity along with a standing shower.
Here is a view of the entire living space of the apartment to get a better idea of the layout. Across from the dining table on one side was the living room with a built in desk, fireplace, small LCD tv, and again awesome views of the Remarkables from the windows.
On the other side of the dining table was a galley kitchen, which was well equipped with plates, utensils, toaster and more. The white closet like doors to the right of the picture had the washer and dryer unit inside.
And then there was the private patio, which was the single best space in the entire apartment. It had a table with 6 chairs and almost unhindered view of the Remarkables, Lake Wakatipu, and the rest of Queenstown. The patio was very well secluded from the other patio on our floor by a thick wall and we never really heard anyone else for most of our visit.
Though there seemed to be some construction right across from our apartment, it didn’t really create any noise. In fact during our stay they were really only working on it once (probably because it was the holiday season). I do hope that will be the final height of that building because it looks like it may interrupt views from the older ones.
WIFI: Speed was pathetic when compared to most hotels of the same standard I had visited, which was by far the most disappointing aspect of the hotel. I got 1 Mbps at best most of the time and so you can forget about streaming videos on Youtube. I guess who needs internet when you have an awesome scene like that in front of you.
As the sun was setting on our first evening in New Zealand, I took a few pictures from the balcony, and made the following time lapse:
It was such a clear sky that night that you could see TONS of stars from your patio. I did my best to capture it, but spent a significant amount of time just sitting outside and relaxing.
And then there were the magnificent sunrises over the Remarkables, which were just spectacular.
Bottom Line: The Rees is a modern, and convenient option when visiting Queenstown. It was high season for tourism in New Zealand during our stay so prices for a regular room were well over $400 if they were available at all. With that being said, we got a decent deal given the time frame we were there (during the Christmas holidays). The free parking, BRILLIANT VIEWS, helpful staff, and location all make it a no brainer to stay here. However, there was one huge disappointment in how pathetic the internet speed was throughout the stay. It was very difficult to do anything besides checking email throughout my stay, which I could’ve done on my phone with T-Mobile’s free data roaming. Not having A/C may be an issue for some, but I didn’t find that to be a problem any time during my stay. I would definitely without a doubt stay at this hotel again if I needed an apartment style place to stay. However if I needed to work during my stay, I would certainly look at other options.