Insiders guide to Queenstown: Trey Ratcliff

Morning light on Queenstown. Photo by Trey Ratcliff.

Intrepid adventure photographer Trey Ratcliff has over twelve million followers across various social media channels, for good reason.

The king of HDR photography and self confessed tech geek is loved by Google. He collaborates with them regularly, has been a guest speaker at Google Zeitgeist and boasts his own Google glasses. Trey is also a co-founder of The Arcanum and the man behind the highly successful Stuck in Customs blog.

As an artist Trey was drawn by the light and vistas of New Zealand’s stunning South Island and now calls the rolling hills between Queenstown and Arrowtown home.

Intrepid photographer Trey Ratcliff from at Burning Man
Intrepid photographer Trey Ratcliff from at Burning Man
How long have you lived in QT?

​I moved here about two years ago with my wife and three kids from Texas.​

What made you move to QT?

​This will sound super-new-agey, but that’s cool, you know. I feel a tremendous energy here… and often feel naturally ebullient for no apparent reason, which is the best reason of all. Besides all that, since I am an artist, there are just innumerable beautiful subjects for photography within a tight radius.​

What do you love about QT the most?

​I love seeing beautiful mountains and the strange, warm quality of the light that strikes them.​

How has your life changed for the better since moving to QT?

​I spend a lot more time with family, creating art, and having peaceful moments. Getting out of the “bubble” of my previous life certainly helped with that!​

Best place for coffee?

​Vudu or Eichardt’s​

Best place for apres?

​The Blue Door (in Arrowtown!)​

Best place for breakfast and favourite dish?

​Oh, so many. I just had breakfast at Halo, so that is a new favorite!​

Special occasion dinner spot?

​Saffron in Arrowtown.

Best place for sunrise or sunset?

​Sunrise, on the road up to Coronet Peak.​ Sunset, on the road to Remarkables.

Best place to keep the kids entertained?

​Queenstown Gardens is great and has everything there.​

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

​The Arrowtown Autumn Festival… many things to see and do, and super family-friendly​

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

​A little pond behind my house at ​

Where do you ski the most during winter and why?

​I just stick to the blue runs on Coronet.​

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

​I like Scoop. I have no idea what the guy does, but I just love seeing his smile as he wanders around Queenstown at night.​ He’s like a jolly night-wraith.

SnowsBest: Scoop is the local news journo with The Mountain Scene.

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

​That super-thick European drinking chocolate from Patagonia makes everything right in the world.​

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

​Some of the super-strong honey​ — or a collection of honeys from all the various flowers around here.

Don’t just take Trey’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.

Join our social chatter on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here