Travel Diary: Queenstown

Last week I had the pleasure of traveling to Queenstown, New Zealand, to cover the 2012 APPT Snowfest. I had heard all great things about this particular stop, however no words could have described just how beautiful it really was. As my plane landed amongst picturesque mountains, I knew I was in for a real treat. Arriving in the town, I was even more delighted. Quaint and charming were a couple of words that came to mind. Everywhere you looked the views were incredible!


Before the 6-day Snowfest Event commenced, I was asked to come and play in a spectacular sit-n-go in the snow along with Team PokerStars Pro Asia Bryan Huang, Team Online 'godelikeroy,' and various media and local personalities.


We experienced record entry numbers of 149 for the Main Event bringing the total prize pool to over NZD$400,000. Players hit the SkyCity Casino poker tables in good spirits despite the fact a few of them had been subject to physical strain from all their extra-curricular activities either on the slopes or at the bars the night before.
I noticed players that busted out of the events in Queenstown weren't as disheartened as it seemed somewhat bearable considering there are so many things to do and see, whether you are into snow, wineries, food, adrenaline adventures or all of the above. There was a lot of talk and interest geared towards bungy jumping and I pondered it for a moment but was unable to channel my inner thrill seeker. I happily settled for a ride up the sky gondola, followed by a scenic Luge ride, which I like to describe as live Mario Kart minus the bananas and gold coins. At 768 metres above sea level that pretty much filled my thrill quota!


Personally, I'm food obsessed. My days were planned very simply around work and (most importantly) where I was going to eat. With every meal came satisfaction, the only disappointment I encountered was the coffee. There was quite a bit of hype about the infamous Fergberger and don't get me wrong it was hovering up in my top five. For those of you who share my love of a great bite, I insist you also try the following:

1. Ferg Bakery - Pork Belly Pie - Speechless
2. Brazz - Baby Back Ribs - Best I've ever tasted
3. Botswana Butchery - Duck and Pinot Jus washed down with locally produced Pinot Noir - Wooing Tree - Foodgasm.

Had I stopped to breathe whilst devouring the above, there would have been pictures.
I was in absolute heaven, great food paired with some amazing poker. After three Day 1 flights, a unique split format for Day 2 and the shortest Day 3 yet, the final table was set and consisted of PokerStars Pro Team Asia Bryan Huang, six PokerStars Qualifiers from Australia, one from Thailand and one of Australia's most aggressive players Xin David Zhao.

After nine hours of solid play, it was PokerStars Qualifier David Allan from Sydney, who appeared slightly under the weather due to illness, yet he prevailed, earning himself NZD$110,00 (AUD$85,859.57) and one very hefty trophy.

Congratulations to David once again and everyone who made it to the Final Table. One of the highlights to these trips is getting to meet amazing people and of course catching up with those of you I already know. Thanks for making the trip so fantastic. I can't wait for the next one.

Nicki Pickering
@PokerStars in Queenstown