There Used To Be No Sign on the Bunker’s Door

The last time I was in Queenstown was back, my God, before 9/11. It was January 2000, and I passed the new year on board the Air New Zealand plane heading here for what would be only my second press trip of my career. Then I was traveling with a group of rowdy 18-35 year olds, who had signed up for a group trip with Contiki. They were all keen to go bungy jumping, skydive, do the jetboats and float down the roaring Shotover River on rafts. We did that. It tipped over, and I had the scariest moment of my life. But worse was the drive up that winding, terrifying road to get to the place where the rafting began.

Now we’re back in Q-town, nine years and many trips in between. The town of about 10,000 is filled with twenty-somethings, all prowling the very clean and neat streets in search of beeer and adventure. We visited a bar I had been to back then…called The Bunker. In 2000, there was no sign, you had to know where to find it. The current owner, Cam, told us that back in the day, there were many more locals who inhabited his cool little hole in the wall bar in Cow St. so food wasn’t as important, they were there for drinking.

A sign at the bar said ‘we serve doubles unless asked otherwise.’ He explained that in NZ, a drink is 1/2 ounce, so just about every bar serves what they call ‘doubles.’ Cam said the town has changed a bit, it’s spread out and now there isn’t the big regular crowd of locals who bring him business. Many have moved out into neighboring towns, so he’s more reliant on visitor business. They serve up a fabulous wild rabbit risotto today, along with other fine meats and good wines.

Queenstown has changed, but it’s still one of the most stunning towns by a lake you’ll ever see. The light bouncing off the foothills and behind that, the dramatic peaks of the Remarkable Mountains, makes this a perfect place for shooting beer and car commercials. Great to be back.