At the close of an almost three-week road trip around New Zealand’s South Island, I found myself alone in Queenstown for the final night of what had been an incredible adventure. I wish I could have given myself longer to explore the gem that is Queenstown, but with it being my last stop on the tour, and as a consequence of my tendency to take a lot of detours, I simply ran out of time. Ironically, of all my destinations, Queenstown was the one place for which I had a long list of recommendations. In my phone, you would find a reminder labelled ‘Things to do in Queenstown’, under which I had added suggestions from everyone I’ve ever met who’d been there. The famous Fergburger was somewhere high up on this list and having now been there I can see why everyone raves so highly about it. There is little more I can say that hasn’t already been said; my burger was jam packed with flavour, the meat was succulent, the bread was fresh and it was all round unquestionably worth the wait.
When I arrived in Queenstown and scrolled through the various suggestions — most of which were standard tourist attractions — an item on the list that caught my eye was ‘The Cow’, solely for the reason that I had no idea what it was referring to. Before endeavouring to find out more about it, I wandered around countless art galleries (another recommendation on my list). Whether art is your passion or not, the numerous galleries on offer in Queenstown are really worth a look; most showcase local artists’ work and I’m confident that if you were to stroll into any of the galleries found there you would come across talent to suit even the most individual tastes. Anyway, back to the point (see above for a perfect demonstration of my continual digressions) — after browsing the galleries and shops, I saw tucked away at the end of a street the words ‘The Cow’, on what appeared to be the sign of a pub. I walked over to investigate and on closer inspection I learnt that ‘The Cow’ was a pizza and pasta restaurant. Having solved the mystery, I considered returning for dinner later that evening and I moved on to take advantage of happy hour by the harbour. Why not?
I umm’d and ahh’d between a take away from the illustrious Ferger (as I had begun abbreviating it to), and dining at the mysterious ‘The Cow’. I decided to make the bolder and more decadent decision of returning for a ‘proper’ dinner at the latter. I say bold because, as stated, I was alone, and had only recently discovered what dining under these circumstances entails. It is a liberating experience to enter a restaurant alone for dinner and I would encourage solo travellers not to shy away from eating out because they fall into this category — a warning, though, it does usually prompt the odd bizarre look from other customers. With no regret, during my trip I made a habit of solo dining and thus had quickly become accustomed to the kind of glances directed at a diner such as myself, who was usually ushered to a corner table to sit and read with a large glass (bottle) of red wine. It sounds depressing but honestly it isn’t — try it for yourself.
Nevertheless, I am delighted to say that the staff at ‘The Cow’ were most welcoming! After entering through a stable door (literally, the entrance was a stable door), I requested my table for one — “yes that’s right, just ONE”. The restaurant had the feel of a quaint country pub or alpine lodge; it contained wooden booths and had a real buzz as you walked in the door. I was seated in one of the booths next to a couple — “fab, just what I wanted” were my first thoughts, however, we shortly became engrossed in conversation. A few minutes later, the waitress returned. Who’d have guessed, another singleton was joining our table! I’d ordered the specialty pizza (plus wine) and was really enjoying my new-found company with the Canadian couple from Vancouver, so much so I felt a tinge of sadness as they announced their departure for the evening. I got over that quickly because before I knew it, couple number two had arrived (the Kramers) and had been seated at the same table. In minutes all four of us were on a first name basis, with banter and American politics filling the air, oh and not to forget, the mouth-watering smells coming from the kitchen. What a night this had turned out to be, and it was only 7:30! The rest of my evening continued in a similar fashion with more pleasant conversation, excellent pizza and plenty of wine. Of all my nights dining alone, this was by far the best.
To sum up, I’ll find any excuse to tell my road trip stories; I really like wine and pizza; and my stranger-company that evening was fantastic (far better than that of the people in my hostel, but that is another story). In all seriousness though, ‘The Cow’ was a delightful treat. I’m grateful to whoever it was who encouraged me to put it on my Queenstown list and so thrilled to have actually made it there — more than can be said of the rest of my list. So, should you ever find yourself in a similar predicament (and I appreciate how unlikely that may be), just remember — for delicious pizza and great company without the queues and crowds of tourists, ‘The Cow’ of Queenstown is where you want to be. Add it to your list.