1. Take to the mountains

Queenstown is the perfect winter base to hit the slopes, with Coronet Peak, The RemarkablesCardrona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone each located within a 20-90 minute drive or shuttle from central Queenstown. 

Ski over to the iconic Heidi’s Hut at Coronet Peak for lunch. The location alone sets it apart from any other eatery you may find on a ski field. Only accessible by skis or snowboard, this exclusive rustic hut is reminiscent of a Swiss chalet and seats only 40 people. Pair the indoor and outdoor fireplaces with the incredible views and you've got the perfect lunch stop on a Coronet Peak ski day.

Take a snowy hike at The Remarkables for stunning views over Queenstown from the ridge-top lookout. A short hike from the Shadow Basin chair lift reveals breathtaking views over Queenstown and Lake Whakatipu, best witnessed in winter with a blanket of snow covering the Southern Alps.

Stay after dark at the on-mountain apartments at Cardrona Alpine Resort, with a fully licensed restaurant open for dinner service or self-catering facilities. Cardrona Alpine Resort offers a great vantage point to view the famous southern sky with limited light pollution - so stargazing is a must do. Another great aspect of on-mountain accommodation is that you can easily be first on the slopes with a quick one-minute walk to the lifts.

Couple enjoying pizza and wine at Heidi's Hut on Coronet PeakHeidi's Hut, Coronet Peak

2. Explore new terrain in new ways

Keen to get amongst the snow but not on skis? Snow shoeing offers an exciting and rewarding day of alpine fun for the whole family. During this unique experience, you'll strap on extensions to your shoes (snowshoes) that will allow you to easily walk through snow and explore Queenstown's wintery landscape. 

Point of view image with two people snow shoeing surrounded by snow covered mountainsSnow-shoeing, Mountainhut.nz

3. Soak up the alpine scenery 

No trip to Queenstown in winter is complete without some sightseeing to really immerse yourself in the unique alpine landscapes. If you want to explore the region under your own steam, you can hire an EV and hit the road. But ensure you check the winter driving conditions on the Queenstown Lakes District Facebook page before you hit the road. Or, take a tour with a local guide to enrich your experience with tales of people and place.

Arrowtown is the perfect scenic spot to explore during winter. The historic miner's houses and restored original shopfronts from the town's early days are magical when you see them covered in fresh snow. Warm up with an expertly crafted coffee at an award-winning cafe, or sip on local pinot noir at a cosy restaurant or bar. Arrowtown's hospitality scene is second to none so you will be spoilt for choice.

Read more in our Guide to Exploring Arrowtown in Winter

Person sits outside histroric Police Hut ArrowtownArrowtown in Winter. Credit @shilpa__roshan

4. Test your limits with winter ice climbing

Whether you are a novice or a pro, Queenstown’s climbing scene has something for everyone. Test your limits, learn new skills, and embark on guided mountain ascents with some of the best in the business. Climb safely with experienced guides who offer mountaineering trips for many skill levels. Try your hand at ice climbing or extend your adventure into a multi-day expedition.

Looking for something for the whole family? Take the crew along to Clip & Climb at Basecamp Adventures.

Is indoor ice more your thing? The Queenstown Ice Arena is home to ice hockey, ice skating and ice bumper cars. Local and national ice hockey games are often held here and are a fun activity to spectate. Wee ones are also well catered for with plenty of safe space for them to adjust to skates and try out their new skills.

Ice Climbing on Wye Creek in Queenstown with The North FaceIce climbing, Wye Creek

5. Ski from morning to night

Have you ever jumped on a chairlift that keeps going from sunrise to sunset? Coronet Peak offers just that with First Tracks and Night Ski, just a 20-minute drive from central Queenstown. 

First Tracks runs daily (subject to conditions) from 1 July to 15 September from 8 - 9am, exclusive to First Tracks pass holders. It's perfect for enjoying uninterrupted freshly groomed trails before the mountain opens to the public at 9am.

Night Ski runs from 21 June on Wednesday and Friday nights (and select Saturdays) until 1 September. An exciting lineup of events brings the slopes to life with fun, fireworks and live music.

This means powderhounds could pack in over 12 hours of skiing on a good day!

Skiers watching the sunrise at Coronet PeakCoronet Peak First Tracks

6. Get a taste of adrenaline

Get a unique taste of adrenaline while also taking in the best of Queenstown's winter landscapes. 

After your day on the mountain, catch the magical alpenglow from the treetops on Ziptrek Ecotour's Twilight Tour. Get a unique rush of adrenaline as you step blindly into the night from tree houses 20 metres above the valley floor. 

For an adrenaline rush on another level, experience the world’s highest cliff jump at Shotover Canyon Swing. Freefall through the iconic snow-covered canyons before you swing above the icy Shotover River below.

Soar majestically and silently through the sky with epic views of snow-covered mountains and glacial lakes below while paragliding with Skytrek from Coronet Peak.

Ziptrek-Ecotours-Queenstown-Winter-SilhouetteZiptrek Ecotours

7. Experience Queenstown's vibrant après scene

Unique Queenstown winter experiences don’t stop when the sun goes down. Queenstown's town centre boasts the Southern Hemisphere's most vibrant après-ski scene with over 150 bars and restaurants.

If you want to try something totally unique for your après-ski why not visit an ice bar? Explore ice furniture and handmade ice carvings and enjoy drinks from ice glasses. 

Or, BYO dinner at a bar with one of Queenstown's best lake views. Grab a takeaway meal from a local eatery nearby like popular, Erik’s Fish and Chips or iconic, Fergburger and jump onboard Perky’s Floating Bar. Here you can enjoy your BYO dinner with a glass of Perky's famous mulled wine! It's the perfect spot to soak up the last light of the day.

Winter evening at Perkys Floating Bar with friendsAprès-ski, Perky's Floating Bar

8. Cut trails across untracked powder

Queenstown and the Southern Alps are world-famous for powder, fantastic glacial terrain, beautiful scenery and experienced backcountry ski guides and heli-skiing operators.

Ski touring, or Backcountry skiing, is any skiing that is done beyond the boundary of a ski field. Generally, backcountry skiers first climb a slope by 'skinning up' (climbing skins are applied to the bottom of the ski so they can slide easily uphill) and then skiing back down. Trips can be anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days - there's acres of backcountry terrain to explore around Queenstown. Backcountry skiing is recommended only for confident and advanced skiers who have completed avalanche safety courses. However, it can be also tackled by intermediate-level skiers with the assistance of a local backcountry guide.  Here's your guide to preparing for a epic ski touring experience in Queenstown.

Another great way to get out into the backcountry is on a heli-skiing trip. You'll experience the same incredible terrain and views without the hard work of climbing the mountains yourself. Local operators offer everything from 3-run to 10-run packages, which can be upgraded once you're out there if you're having a particularly good time. 

Person skiing in expansive mountain terrainHeli-skiing

9. See stunning alpine views from above

Get a birds-eye perspective from above to really grasp the scale and wonder of Queenstown's mountainous landscapes. 

Take the Skyline Gondola and ride up 450 metres to the top of Bob’s Peak in the Southern Hemisphere’s steepest cable car, to marvel at the panoramic views of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Walter and Cecil Peak. Midwinter is also the best time to book Skyline’s alpine stargazing tour and see the wonders of the night sky.

You can also take to the skies on a scenic fixed-wing plane or helicopter ride high above the Southern Alps, Lake Whakatipu, and over to Fiordland National Park.

Person with telescope stargazing underneath the milky way near The Remarkables mountain rangeStargazing, Skyline Queenstown

10. Get off the beaten track and follow the gold trail

For something really unique this winter, take a Tesla or 4WD adventure to a remote historic gold mining town. Go deep into the backcountry and experience some of the most stunning winter alpine scenery and thrilling technical driving.

You'll follow old miners’ wagon trails with multiple river crossings to explore the gold mining villages of Macetown and Skippers Township, both rapidly abandoned after the gold rush. Hold onto your hats for a drive down Skippers Canyon Road, one of the most adventurous roads in the world located high above the Shotover River. You'll be transported back in time to the perils of the early mining days with interesting stories from knowledgeable and experienced guides while they navigate the winter roads with finesse and dexterity. 

Tesla driving down Skippers Road with mountains in backgroundSkipper's Canyon Tesla Tour

Plan your Queenstown local experience

Our local profile stories are packed with more ideas to inspire you to experience Queenstown and the surrounding region like a local. See Queenstown through the eyes of photographer, Krista May, or discover mountaineer, Hamish Fleming's favourite winter adventures.

As you explore Queenstown, share your experiences with us on Instagram by tagging #QueenstownLive.

A unique way to leave a lasting memory of your trip is by donating to Love Queenstown which supports local climate, conservation and biodiversity projects that actually make an impact.