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 in winter is unlike anywhere else in New Zealand.

Every year from June, the region transforms into a winter paradise, attracting snow sports enthusiasts 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 here are just five of the reasons why.

Friends walking through Steamer Wharf on a winter evening

Steamer Wharf in winter

1. Four different ski fields within easy drive of downtown Queenstown

The region’s four ski areas, all within a handy 20 to 90-minute drive of Queenstown, are scheduled to open from mid-late June.

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.
  • Further down the road, you can reach Treble Cone Ski Area 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.

Ice Bar The Remarkables

The Remarkables Ski Area

2. Upgrades and events for the 2021 ski season

This winter, Coronet Peak is scheduled to open 30 June. Night skiing starts from opening day, and runs Wednesday and Friday nights until late August, with a bonus Saturday night ski over the July school holidays. Don’t miss the Dog Derby on 15 August, where dogs and their owners create delightful mayhem as they race down the mountain.

The Remarkables Ski Area plans to open 23 June. The Cross Fall and Serpentine trails have been widened, and more snow guns have been installed, for an even more exciting Remarkables ski experience. 2021 events include Slopestyle on 13 August, and the South Island’s biggest winter multisport event, the Peak to Peak on 14 September.

Cardrona opens 21 June. They’ve been busy, installing the new Willows Quad chairlift to get you to the slopes faster, opening up an extra 65 hectares and a whole new ski area. They’re offering free mountain shuttles from the Pines carpark at Cardrona and the base of the Treble Cone access road. They host the Winter Games NZ, FIS World Cup freestyle competitions, and the Jossi Wells Invitational.

Treble Cone opens 2 July. They’ve been investing in new snow guns and new bathroom facilities in the Saddle Basin. Treble Cone’s home to the New Zealand Freeride Team, so look out for Freeride athletes training on the slopes.

AJ Hackett Ledge Bungy

The Ledge Bungy

3. There’s fun to be had beyond the ski fields

Queenstown is famous for its high-octane thrills 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, 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.

Public Kitchen and Bar

Public Kitchen and Bar

4. The best in food, wine, and craft beer

Queenstown offers some of the best restaurants and bars in New Zealand, which means delectable food and drinks are always on the menu.

Start your day off right at one of Queenstown’s many cafes, where expert baristas craft coffee to fuel you, or perhaps a lazy brunch or lunch lake side 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.  

Queenstown lakefront in winter apres ski

Queenstown Bay at night

5. Every night is a Saturday night in Queenstown, with awesome après ski vibes

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 are sure to keep you entertained.