Whether you've an appetite for adventure, you’re in search of fresh powder and a few brews, or you just want to get away from the everyday, Queenstown is New Zealand’s true winter destination, and one of the best winter holidays in NZ.
From June, the region transforms into a winter paradise, attracting snow sports enthusiasts and winter lovers with its incredible lake and alpine scenery, crisp blue-sky days, easy access to some of New Zealand's finest ski and snowboard terrain and a vibrant après ski scene.
Queenstown has the goods for an epic holiday this winter, and here are just five of the reasons why.
1. Four different ski fields within easy drive of downtown Queenstown
Four ski areas, all within a handy 20 to 90-minute drive of Queenstown, make Queenstown the ultimate New Zealand winter destination. Each ski area offers a range of terrain for all levels whether you’re keen to conquer the basics, enjoy groomed runs, tackle off-piste, throw down some freestyle tricks or experience the thrill of night skiing.
- Coronet Peak is Queenstown’s closest ski area, an easy 20-minute drive from downtown, with fantastic on-mountain facilities, state-of-the-art snowmaking, and their famous night skiing.
- The Remarkables Ski Area is a true alpine experience a 45-minute drive from central Queenstown. Perfect for the whole family, beginners and novices and advanced skiers and boarders all enjoy the sunny north-facing bowls.
- Cardrona Alpine Resort is in the Cardrona Valley, just over an hours’ drive from Queenstown. Well known for its extensive terrain park facilities, and a range of different cafes and on-mountain accommodation, which make the resort feel like a small village.
- Treble Cone Ski Area is further down the road and can be accessed from Queenstown in just under an hour and a half. Treble Cone has the longest vertical rise in the Southern Lakes which makes it a favourite with skiers and boarders alike.
The Remarkables Ski Area
2. The 2023 Queenstown ski season
2023 Queenstown ski season open dates have been announced.
- Cardrona Alpine Resort: 17 June – 22 October 2023
- Coronet Peak Ski Area: 16 June – 24 September 2023
- The Remarkables Ski Area: 17 June – 8 October 2023
- Treble Cone: 24 June – 1 October 2023
Opening dates are subject to conditions. Be sure to check the individual ski area snow reports for the latest updates.
Coronet Peak Night Ski will return on Wednesday and Friday nights from late June, plus three bonus school holiday Saturdays in July (subject to conditions). There’s a busy season of events planned, with the Dog Derby, the Peak to Peak, racing, and family fun.
Even if you’re not a skier, don’t miss The Remarkables Ski Field for some of the best views of majestic snowclad peaks in New Zealand. Events include the infamous midwinter run up the Remarkables access road (not for the faint-hearted), Christmas in July and the sunrise Skin to Summit series of backcountry touring, starting in late July.
At Cardrona, there’s a busy calendar of races and events. It’s not all about skiing and snowboarding, with sightseeing and tubing also on offer, and a fantastic choice of places to eat, including the Mezz, which brings a la carte dining to the mountain. They’re offering free mountain shuttles from the Pine Trees carpark and there is a range of transport options from Queenstown and Wanaka.
Treble Cone is for serious skiers and boarders, with 700ms of vertical, some of NZ’s longest groomed trails, and fantastic off-piste terrain. It’s home to the New Zealand Freeride Team, so look out for Freeride athletes training on the slopes, and check out their winter event schedule.
Cardrona Alpine Resort
3. There’s fun to be had beyond the ski fields
A New Zealand winter holiday has so much more to offer than snow. Queenstown is famous for its high-octane thrills and incredible views to boot, so if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or want to push your boundaries, there’s activities like bungy jumping, jet boating, skydiving, zip lining, paragliding, quad biking, or four-wheel-driving—all guaranteed to get your blood pumping!
If you’re looking for one of those once-in-a-lifetime kind of experiences, why not try a local hot air balloon flight over our winter paradise, a helicopter landing on a glacier, an exclusive backcountry ski experience or a spot of heli-skiing?
For the ultimate in relaxation, especially after a day on the slopes, enjoy an afternoon at one of Queenstown’s spas with a soak in a hot tub and a massage.
Snow shoeing at Mount Larkins, Glenorchy
4. The best in food, wine, and craft beer
Start your day off right at one of Queenstown’s many cafés, where expert baristas craft coffee to fuel you, or perhaps a lazy brunch or lunch lakeside is just what you need after a late night.
If it’s takeaways you’re after, grab a giant gourmet burger and meander down to the lakefront, or pick up sushi, a pie or some pastry and pack a picnic basket for the day’s adventures.
Queenstown also has a great craft beer scene, with award-winning boutique craft breweries dotted all around the region. Why not hop on a local tour and head out to Gibbston, then slowly make your way back into Queenstown stopping at the numerous craft breweries along the way.
The Nest, Kamana Lakehouse
5. Après ski vibes and epic midwinter events
Winter in Queenstown is just as much about après-ski as it is about skiing and snowboarding. The compact and vibrant town centre comes alive after dark with the smell of wood fires and grilled meats wafting through the air, while skiers and boarders fresh off the mountain stroll around town in search of craft beer and mulled wine.
Local bars are open until the early hours, and there’s plenty of activity happening and new people to meet if you feel like staying out late on any night of the week.
If hanging out at lively pubs and bars after a day on the slopes is not your thing, there are plenty more local activities to keep you occupied after dark. Indoor thrills like go-karting or exploring Queenstown’s haunted Fear Factory will keep you entertained.
Queenstown is also home to some extraordinary winter events - view all upcoming Queenstown events here. Après-ski at Barmuda Bar