42 Shotover Street
Queenstown, New Zealand
+64 3 4411232
Our first day of our trans-Tasman trip saw our flight get delayed in Sydney and our frantic selves get dicked around by the staff at Auckland airport. Subsequently, we almost missed our connecting flight to Queenstown. Luckily, Snoop Dogg by way of Air New Zealand’s light-hearted air safety video put us in a better mood and before long, we were flying above sheep and mountain ranges, landing safely at ZQN in the late afternoon.
After spending half an hour on the phone to Australia to get our travel cards reactivated again, we were on our way to our hotel by Lake Wakatipu. Despite limited sleep and despite an exhausting day going through three airports, we didn’t stay in our room for too long because we were keen to explore downtown Queenstown. That, and we were absolutely starving having had nothing substantial to eat since our late night feast at Chat Thai the previous night, 1900 kms away. And so we headed down to Fergburger.
Queenstown is world famous for its fresh powder during snowboarding season and its plethora of outdoor activities (skydiving, canyon swinging, jet boating, bungee jumping… take your pick). However, there is something else that’s equally extreme: the deliciousness of a burger from Fergburger.
Every visitor to Queenstown would have heard of Fergburger, whether they’d be an adrenaline junkie about to jump off Ben Nevis for the fifteenth time, a middle-aged Chinese tourist or a businesswoman visiting from the North Island. Blame the burger restaurant’s #1 ranking on Tripadvisor or the way the locals (when I say locals, I mean tourists who found their way to Queenstown and never went home) get excited as soon as someone says ‘Fergburger.’ In any case, Fergburger is open for 21.5 hours seven days a week (it only closes between 5am and 8:30am every morning) and every time we walk past, it’s packed.
I can see why; we loved Fergburger so much that we visited it three times in the two days we were there.
Crazy? Yeah perhaps, but not as crazy as this:
No, we’re not talking about Sir Alex (though Man U fans might think otherwise, especially after last night).
We’re talking about… actually I have no idea who Ferg is and I couldn’t find anything conclusive on the internet about him. Apparently Ferg’s identity is a ‘closely guarded secret’ if the NZ Herald is to be believed. In a way, this adds to the Fergburger mystique.
In most instances, we were lucky to get a seat in this crowd – but then again, we were always here at odd times of the day. And yet, it was still packed.
They print their menus in Japanese too! And of course, the best way to enjoy a burger is with a cheap bottle of local cider.
Fergburger has a pretty extensive menu with beef burgers (made with ‘Prime New Zealand beef) dominating. There are also a few non-beef options such as chicken and lamb. Vegetarians are also not excluded from the party and non-meat options are cheekily named – Bun Laden comes with falafel while the Holier than Thou burger caters to tofu lovers as a possible passive aggressive dig to tofu-lovers.
Our burgers came wrapped neatly in a greased brown paper bag. We eagerly nibbled on our crunchy fries (NZD$4.50 (AUD$3.54), with aioli) before digging into our larger-than-life burgers.
The Fergburger is the default option and for NZD$11 (AUD$8.66), you get a heaving soft bun filled with beef, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli and tomato relish. For an extra NZD$1, I got them to slap a bit of cheddar in it. It was down-to-earth delicious and yes, a bit of a struggle to finish as it was so big. What especially impressed me was that they used simple, good quality ingredients (no pretension here) but still managed to keep their prices lower than ‘high end’ burger chains such as Grill’d. Now, that’s great value to me.
Marty, in trying to maintain his manliness, ordered the Big Al (NZD$17.50 (NZD$13.78)). I guess the Big Al would be Fergburger’s equivalent of a burger with the lot. Two buns engulfed a double serving of beef (that’s half a pound, mate), bacon, cheese, two eggs, beetroot, lettuce, tomato, red onion, relish and aioli. Heavy? You bet. Delicious? Oh hells yeah.
To Marty, the Big Al was essentially everything a Whopper wanted to be but can’t and never will be. Okay, so maybe that’s an overstatement but the super-fresh ingredients and quality beef stapled in a doughy bun did make it the ultimate burger.
On our second visit, Marty ordered a Sweet Bambi (NZD$12.50 (AUD$9.84)) while we split the beautifully golden onion rings and aioli (NZD$5.50 (AUD$4.33)). Mind you, this was several hours after we gorged ourselves with French onion soup and steaks at Botswana Butchery (review to come).
The Sweet Bambi was a venison burger, with the pattie being made from the finest wild Fiordland deer. As expected the meat was gamey and I did find it a bit grass-y but the great use of Thai plum chutney, red onion and aioli along with some spices did make the burger palatable. To be honest, I was happier munching on my onion rings that were so, so, so crunchy and delicious.
We even came back for breakfast on our last day, a couple of hours before we were scheduled to skydive (unfortunately, that got cancelled due to gale-force winds so thankfully, the fine citizens of Queenstown were spared Fergburger vomit from 15,000 feet above).
I had one of the breakfast burgers, a Morning Glory (NZD$10 (AUD$7.87)), which came with American streaky bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato, red onion, tomato relish and tarragon mayonnaise. You were also given the option of having avocado or hash brown – I went for the hash brown, naturally.
It tasted as good as it looked but for some reason, I was yearning for beef. I know, it was breakfast and people don’t normally eat beef burgers for breakfast. However, I’m someone who enjoys the odd steak first thing in the morning so I did find it odd eating a meat-less burger (save for the bacon). It was good enough for me to finish but for some reason, my stomach did not quite have full capacity this morning so I struggled.
The ‘normal’ (as in, non-breakfast) burgers are also available first thing in the morning. Marty had the Little Lamby (NZ$12.50 (AUD$9.84)); after all, you can’t walk into a burger joint in New Zealand without ordering a burger made with its national livestock. Marty’s a sucker for lamb and mint jelly so when those two are assembled in a burger along with lettuce, tomato, onion, aioli and tomato relish, he’s a happy camper.
Fergburger is worthy of its cult status not just in New Zealand but around the world. A lot of Kiwis do say that food (and things in general) is relatively expensive in Queenstown but as an Aussie who pays $10 for a burger with the lot at the local fish and chip shop, I reckon the prices at Fergburger are very reasonable. The portions at Fergburger in addition to the workmanship displayed clearly sets it above any wannabe high-end burger franchise that charge $25 for a tiny wagyu burger served on a brioche bun.