I’m a little embarrassed to admit this. Hopefully, you won’t judge.
Whilst I pride myself on being a foodie, I was taken by surprise when I only recently discovered a world famous burger joint down in the depths of Queenstown! Seeing that it was my second trip to the South Island ever, it must have slipped under my ‘burger radar’ many moons ago but that oversight has now been rectified…
When people hear Queenstown they think of beautiful landscapes, the snow, thrill-seeking activities such as skydiving, bungey jumping and then…Fergburger. Unlike its chain store competitors, this internationally known brand has only one location in the world.
It first opened in 2001 making its mark through feeding the masses with unforgettable burgers, one mouthful at a time. It has now expanded into a ‘Ferg Bakery’ with pies, pastry and sandwiches along with a small gelato store next to it. Without further ado, let’s delve into what makes the filling of this delicious establishment.
Driving into Queenstown, this was the first store I noticed on the side of the main street. Why? Because of the ridiculous line. I mean ridiculous. As in you couldn’t see where the line ended or began and just people of all nationalities, dress code and ages standing and blocking the streets. I admit, I arrived at peak eating hours but still. This place put all the other restaurants to shame in terms of customer numbers.
But it’s okay because Ferg knows he’s popular. That’s why he’s employed people to go up and down the expected line of patrons to hand them menus to read while they wait. Luckily, there’s also a box where you can return these so paper wastage/littering doesn’t become so much of an issue.
On the outside, it doesn’t look like much. A Fergburger sign and the menu on the side wall so you have plenty of time to decide as you shuffle one person at a time towards the front to order. There are a few wooden tables and chairs on the outside and a couple of small tables with booth seats inside. If you’ve managed to sit on said furniture while eating at Ferg’s, you’re one of the lucky few. The lighting inside is a bit dim for the ‘bar effect’, it’s hard to gauge because if it’s constantly busy you’ll get stared down by every customer waiting for their food as they will you to leave so they can take your seat. If it’s quiet, it would be nice to sit down and actually take in the little quirks of the place.
There’s also merchandise that they sell at the bar for all your souvenir needs – the place is swarming with tourists so this might be why. It’s safe to assume that Fergburger has been put in the ‘Places to Eat at in Queenstown’ brochure at every travel agency all over the world so don’t be surprised if the majority of the people around you don’t speak English. It’s great because you almost feel like you’re in a different country for a short period of time – a trip down a cultural lane.
4.5 Star Rating out of over 6000+ reviews on TripAdvisor – you know this place is legit. From woe to go, it took us over an hour from lining up to actually receiving our burgers and I have no complaints because it’s that damn good.
Ferg’s menu offers your standard burger joint options along with fries, onion rings and alcoholic beverages at the bar inside the establishment. There is a wide range from beef, lamb, venison, fish, chicken along with vegetarian options and oddly enough, breakfast burgers too.
I had the ‘Cock Cajun’ – yes they’re all cheekily named – which consisted of tender chicken pieces marinated in cajun spices with a standout lemon yoghurt sauce. The combination of spicy and sour worked beautifully in that bun with the standard lettuce, tomato and onion fillings.
My friend got ‘The Codfather’ which was reminded me of Filet-O-Fish but it was so much better. The tartare sauce was on point and the fish was extremely fresh (I may have had a wee bite of that too). The others got the ‘Southern Swine’ and attempted the ‘Big Al’ which I guess is Fergburger’s take on the Kiwiburger due to the beetroot and egg.
The service is surprisingly fast given the circumstances. You can see the staff in the kitchen just pumping out burgers like it was second nature. The staff remain ever courteous whilst under the pressure of never ending burger orders. Making your brief interactions with them memorable, ordering is done via a ticket system which looks eerily similar to the Lotto balls. If your number shows up on the electronic screen outside, you’ve hit the burger jackpot. If looking at a tv screen is too much hassle for you then there’s a handy link on the website which takes you to the live feed of their screens so you can walk around while you wait.
It’s definitely more of a takeaway situation for most people and that’s okay too, because there are plenty of locations to eat your burger nearby. We picked a beach about 100m away from Fergburger and sat while watching the sunset – along with 100 other people who had the same idea.
Prices are comparable to Burger Fuel – around the $10-$18 mark. They don’t skimp on the quality of the ingredients or the size so it’s worth every cent if not for the experience alone. Even if you have a big appetite, one burger should be enough but if you’re not willing to risk starvation, the onion rings are a good option to have satiate you.
There is no Queenstown without Fergburger. There’s something on the menu for everyone. Depending on when you want to eat, I’d suggest you leave plenty of waiting time beforehand so go when you’re just starting to get peckish. We did that and were only borderline ‘hangry’ at the end. Still definitely worth the wait!