Whether you have 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.
1. Four different ski fields will open this winter each within an easy and scenic 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 late June and early July this winter. 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 and is an easy 20-minute drive from downtown. There are fantastic on-mountain facilities, state-of-the-art snowmaking as well as night skiing on Wednesday and Friday nights from early July until late August. The Remarkables Ski Area is a true alpine experience 45-minutes drive from central Queenstown and is perfect for the whole family, from beginners and novices to advanced skiers and boarders in 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.
2. This season will be unlike any other with brand new features on each ski field
This winter, Coronet Peak is scheduled to open at the end of June featuring a shiny new Telemix 6-seat chairlift with gondola cabins to make the on mountain experience even better. Across the valley from Coronet Peak, The Remarkables Ski Area is scheduled to open early July and with a new six-seat chairlift to the Sugar Bowl alongside increased snow making capacity and 2.5km of new intermediate trails.
Shredders beware, Cardrona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone will both open late June and will be operating as a dual mountain offering this winter after Cardrona purchased Treble Cone last year. This means you can enjoy Cardrona Alpine Resort’s serious half pipes and terrain park one day, and Treble Cone’s stunning views, large basins and great off-piste terrain the next on the same season pass.
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, supercar 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.
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.
5. Every night is a Saturday night in Queenstown, with awesome après ski vibes
Winter in Queenstown is just as much about skiing and snowboarding as it is about après ski. 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. Coronet Peak lights up for Night Ski on Wednesday and Friday nights (early June – end August) and indoor thrills like go carting or exploring Queenstown’s haunted Fear Factory are sure to keep you entertained.