Insiders guide to Queenstown: Paula Squire Thomas

Ski host, Paula Squire Thomas, has lived in Queenstown for twenty four winters and two summers and hosted ski trips for Ski Express for twenty five years.. Her husband Graeme is a ski instructor at Coronet Peak and their two children spend their free time on the mountain.

What do you love about QT?

The buzz, there’s always something happening. All the amazing different cultures and people that you encounter. During ski season you can sit at the bar beside someone who had no idea you can ski here. People visit for all different reasons. Oh and the views.

Best place for coffee?

My new favourite spot “Short & Sweet” on Athol st and Vudu is the old favourite but hard to find a seat these days.

Best place for apres?
Best place for breakfast and favourite dish?

“Bobs Weigh” French Toast and bacon with maple syrup served in shot glasses

Special occasion dinner spot?

“Bella Cucina” – tiny and not much space but you feel like part of the hustle & bustle, food is great and not tooo fancy and staff are super friendly. You feel like you could be in a busy little restaurant in Italy or France.

Where do the locals go with their kids to keep them entertained?

Queenstown Gardens – because you just chill while the kids play disc golf or ride their bikes/scooters or hang in the skate park – lots to keep the kids busy and cheap! Fave family option to do is Happy Hour Sushi at Minami Jujisei or to the movies.

What is your favourite event on or off the mountain during the season?

Winter Festival – because there is something for everyone and lots for the family. Favourite item is the Dog Derby – where shepherds or owners have to race down the mountain on foot with their dogs – hilarious to watch.

Where do you take out of town visitors to WOW them?

If they are fit hike them up Queenstown Hill to The Basket of Dreams to check out the view. Otherwise drive up Hensman rd and look over the lake from there. The drive to Glenorchy is always a wow factor too.

Favourite ski run in the region?

Exchange Drop at Coronet- then pick a line all the way to the T-Bar.

Where do you ski the most during winter?

I’m a Coronet Girl – love the terrain, love the accessibility – I can get a morning in and be at work by 11 and feel that I’ve had a great ski.

Your favourite QT local character and where would we find them?

Browny ( Paul Brown if you want his real name) the ski bus driver – been here for 30 years always has a smile and still looks the same. You’ll find him driving a bus up the mountain or laughing and chatting to guests in winter and in summer driving to Milford.

What can you get at QT you can’t get anywhere else in the world?

That’s easy – A Fergburger.

If you had to buy one thing to take back with you as a visitor to QT what would it be?

A good Central Otago Pinot.

Don’t just take Paula’s word for it, check out our other Insider Guides to Wanaka, Queenstown, Methve, Ohakune, Jindabyne, Mt Beauty and Mansfield as they are updated daily here.

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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017, a former columnist for Mountainwatch and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.

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