Queenstown is far enough south that you may even be able to capture our famous Southern Lights, the Aurora Australis, on camera.

Ski under the Milky Way, soak in an open-air hot tub under the stars, or learn about the southern skies from an expert. Queenstown has plenty to offer anyone interested in the night sky.

Here are some of the best stargazing experiences to try in Queenstown this winter.

Coronet Peak by Night Coronet Peak by Night

Night skiing at Coronet Peak

Skiing under the stars is one of those sublime experiences you'll remember forever. Coronet Peak is open for Night Skiing Wednesdays and Fridays from the end of June until the end of August with a special Saturday Night Ski over the July school holidays.

There are plenty of places along the floodlit trail to pause for a moment and take in the beautiful night sky. If you’re feeling thirsty, stop at the Ice Bar midway down the M1 for a cold one and take a seat on a beanbag – the view of the Milky Way from here is hard to beat.

Milky Way over Cardrona ski fieldStargazing up Cardrona skifield

2. Take a local stargazing tour

Cardrona Alpine Resort

If you’re after the ultimate evening experience, head over the Crown Range to Cardrona Alpine Resort. Casually wind your way up the road at sunset for a beautiful three-course meal at Cardrona’s delicious alpine dining destination, The Mezz restaurant followed by a tour of the skies with expert Astronomer Alex Thom.

The Skyline Stargazing Tour

Journey up the Skyline Gondola to experience their fascinating stargazing tour. Perched high above Queenstown, and surrounded by snow-capped mountains, keen stargazers have the opportunity to access a ‘hidden world’ not seen by the naked eye, and impossible to see in many other locations of the world.

Starry Nights Queenstown photography tour

Explore the Whakatipu Basin at night and come away with the ultimate souvenir of your visit. A Starry Nights Queenstown photography tour with astrophotographer Simon Williams includes a tour of spectacular local locations in a Land Rover Defender, a starlit photo session, and tips on astrophotography.

Onsen Hot Pools at nightOnsen Hot Pools

3. Hot pools under the stars

Queenstown offers a vast array of private accommodation options, some of which provide you the luxury of your own outdoor hot tub. Imagine soaking in a hot pool looking out on snow-capped mountains and a star-studded night sky. A magical experience to enjoy with your family or significant other. Switch off the house lights to limit the light pollution – then sit back and relax!

There are also plenty of amazing local hot pools available to visit within a short drive of the town centre. Some can get pretty busy in the evening so be sure to book in advance.


Milky Way over Moke LakeAstrophotography at Moke Lake. Image credit @zlycoco on Instagram

 

4. Drive out to Moke Lake

Pop some pillows, plenty of blankets, and some hot snacks in the back of your car, and take a quick 15-minute drive out to Moke Lake for an evening of stargazing or astrophotography.  

Moke Lake is an ideal location for stargazing. It’s far enough from Queenstown to not be affected by light pollution and the symmetrical reflections of the mountains on the lake make for the perfect night-time shot.

Clear starry nights over the Queenstown GardensThe Queenstown Gardens at night. Image credit @sykim2662 on Instagram

 

5. Queenstown Gardens

No visit to Queenstown is complete without a wander around the Queenstown Gardens, and what better way to enjoy the park than by moonlight on a clear night.

The park is handily located a quick stroll away from the centre of town and boasts a beautiful landscape with centuries old pine trees, rose gardens, and 360-degree views. The south-facing side has uninterrupted views down Lake Wakatipu, providing you with the perfect opportunity to capture the Southern Lights on a clear night.