It’s a magical time of year, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re visiting on your own, as a couple or as a group. You’ll never be bored in Queenstown! Visiting Queenstown in winter? Here are just a few things to do that might tempt you…
Snow snow snow!
Of course, Queenstown is probably best known for skiing and snowboarding in winter. Snow bunnies from all over the globe come to explore the slopes at our local fields, in particular, Coronet Peak and The Remarkables. The season normally runs from mid-June to early September. Busses up to the ski fields depart regularly from the town centre or you can drive yourself (just remember to take chains with you!). And if you’re not a big skier, a trip up the mountain is still a great day out. Try snowboarding or tobogganing and then hit one of the restaurants or bars – or simply watch others as they tear up the slopes.
Queenstown is beautiful but it can get very cold in winter – with temperatures often falling below freezing overnight. Some hotels and accommodation providers have their own spa pools, but we recommend warming up with a visit to the Onsen Hot Pools at Arthurs Point. With indoor and outdoor options, this is an excellent way to soothe your aching muscles after a day’s skiing or exploring! The gorgeous tubs at Onsen hot pools overlook the Shotover River and surrounding hillside, and it’s easy to kill a few hours here, There’s also a day spa on site so you can complement your hot pools experience with a facial, body treatment or massage and a hot cup of herbal tea… Bliss!
Historic Boat Cruise
Did you know Lake Wakatipu is actually tidal? It is the third largest lake in New Zealand and its unusual “lightning bolt” shape causes the water to rise and fall every 25 minutes or so. Cruising across the lake is a year round activity and a great relaxed way to see the local surrounds. The TSS Earnslaw is a New Zealand icon – a vintage steamboat over 100 years old. Enjoy a 1.5 hour cruise or include a visit to Walter Peak Farm (BBQ lunch optional).
Queenstown Winter Festival
The 10-day festival runs every year in June and kicks off with an opening party with fireworks. The event includes an ice rink, parade, comedy gala, competitions, markets, and lots more – with something for all ages.
Get your heart pumping
Skydiving and bungy jumping are year-round activities… Queenstown is the adrenaline capital of the world, after all! Nearby bungies include the Kawarau Bungy (New Zealand’s first!), the Nevis Bungy and the Ledge Bungy… And there are swings, catapults and zip-rides for those who prefer not to be upside down! Queenstown is also one of the best places in the world to skydive – the views are absolutely breathtaking!
This is one of the many activities in Queenstown that are great all year round, but the views from the gondola in winter are truly extraordinary! From 450 metres above ground you can see all of Queenstown and the beautiful landscape that surrounds it, including Lake Wakatipu and snow-covered mountains for as far as the eye can see. At night time, dinner at Stratosphere Bar and Restaurant allows you to see Queenstown in winter in a whole new light, and you can even take a stargazing tour.
Visit a winery
We have the Central Otago region to thank for some of the world’s best wines. The hot summers and freezing cold winters make the conditions perfect for producing Pinot Noir, and there are dozens of wineries within driving distance of Queenstown that are well worth exploring: Chard Farm winery, Akarua Winery and Mount Difficulty Winery, to name a few. In winter, find one with a cosy fireplace and enjoy your wine with a hearty gourmet meal.
Scenic Flights – the #1 thing to do in Queenstown in winter!
Well, we couldn’t write this article without including a scenic flight in Queenstown! This is a superb way to experience Queenstown’s alpine scenery and snow-covered mountains, and there are plenty of options to choose from. Milford Sound is by far the most popular destination – include a cruise across the world famous fiord for the full experience. Flights are weather dependent, so we recommend booking your flight for the first day you are in Queenstown in case you have to readjust to another time.