Joanna Hunkin lives the champagne lifestyle in Queenstown during a weekend loaded with luxury.
There are few things more indulgent in life than sipping champagne over breakfast. But when that breakfast is overlooked by Queenstown's majestic mountain ranges, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, you really can't help but feel you've clocked life.
Which is what Queenstown's annual Clicquot in the Snow festival is all about. Celebrating the good life — and making it even better with a cheeky flute on the side.
It began with the official launch party at Jack's Point, which saw a lithe contortionist fill guests' champagne flutes while suspended, upside down, from the ceiling.
Day two featured a long lunch at Josh Emett's acclaimed restaurant Rata, with each course paired to a different Clicquot vintage. This was followed by one of the highlights of Queenstown's social calendar — Kathryn Wilson's annual runway show.
This year's show — aboard the iconic TSS Earnslaw steamship — sold out in just 12 hours. And it's not hard to see why. For $80, guests were treated to a night of free-flowing Clicquot, delectable canapes (all the more impressive given the tiny galley from whence they came) and shoes. Beautiful shoes.
But this was no stilted runway show. Rather, a soundtrack of 90s bangers combined with some of Queenstown's most colourful personalities ensured the party continued well after the Earnslaw returned to shore.
Fortunately, there is no hangover cure quite as effective as Queenstown's fresh alpine air. Just a few minutes under those pale blue skies will clear even the dustiest of heads.
Which is just as well, because there's lots to do in Queenstown and sitting around isn't an option.
For us, that meant heading up Coronet Peak for half a day's skiing, which these days, is just the right amount.
After indulging in a little champagne brunch, we arrived just after midday, squeezing in a solid few runs across each of the mountain's main trails. One conveniently led us down to Heidi's Hut, which has been converted into the Clicquot Cabin for the month of August.
But as the sun started to fade — and the legs started to ache — it was time to retreat. If there's one tip and one tip alone that you take on board when booking a Queenstown escape, let it be this: make sure your hotel room has a bath. Nothing warms you up and soothes those legs quite like a soak in a full-length bath.
The Hilton's come highly recommended, as does its out-of-town location, across the water from Queenstown's bustling town centre. Traffic delays are a small price to pay for the quiet serenity of the lakefront hotel, which treats guests to an atmospheric gas fireplace in every room.
Of course, no trip to Queenstown is complete without a night out. Ours began with the Clicquot Laneway Party in Church Lane — a new addition to this year's itinerary and open to the public — and ended at The Bunker, a popular late-night destination that ironically, is up a discreet flight of stairs on Cow Lane.
Warmed by a roaring log burner and several espresso martinis, it's the perfect spot to toast a great weekend away. Until breakfast, at least.
Kathryn Wilson gives her top tips for what to pack for a weekend at the snow.
Leather pants and dress
These are a perfect alternative to denim and can be worn easily with trainers/hi tops in the day or point-toe heels to dinner . . . I took a pair of pants from the winter collection by Camilla and Marc and a tunic dress in leather by Juliette Hogan, which were perfect with a pair of gemstone earrings.
A fur coat or stole
Always faux or vintage, this is a glam alternative to a puffer coat and looks great with dresses or pants.
I took several pieces to Queenstown on this trip. Juliette Hogan black sequin track pants for day activities and lunches, Juliette Hogan sequin tank in gold for dinner with leather pants ... and a Hailwood sequin dress for our cocktail catwalk event on board the TSS Earnslaw.
A pair of stacked heels
Something that suits both dresses and pants for nights out. Our new-season Lavinia heel are a perfect comfortable heel to last all evening.
A warm hat and scarf
I took a cute beanie from NZ brand Pompom that matches my daughter's hat, and a Caroline Sills pashmina.
A super hydrating face cream for the cold air
I use Murad hydrodynamic cream.
Clicquot in the snow: Ongoing events
The Clicquot Brunch Sessions at Pier 19 — $39 buys you brunch and a flute of Clicquot during August.
The Clicquot Cabin on Coronet Peak is open throughout August.
Clicquot High Tea at the Gondola, from 2pm-5pm — $35 gets you a flute of Clicquot and high tea (excludes gondola ride, minimum of two people).