On the mountains
You don’t have to be a ski bunny to appreciate Queenstown’s snowy mountains. Sightseers can visit any of the four ski resorts in Queenstown’s vicinity. Coronet Peak and Cardrona Alpine Resort both offer gondola rides for a more comfortable journey to their sightseeing decks. Hire a toboggan or a yooner, for a seated experience that’s not quite as challenging as skiing, and have fun in the Snow Play zone at the base of the lifts.
Heli-hiking tours provide an opportunity to soak in the scenery while also witnessing the peaceful silence of being above the world. If you are keen to go a bit further and plant your feet on a glacier, helicopter operators can arrange this for you too. While you're up there, relax and indulge with your own private picnic set-up.
For something totally unique, journey by helicopter to the Cardrona Valley and try your hand at dog sledding. If high octane action is more your bag, take a heli-snowmobiling trip on the Garvie Plateau.
Queenstown Snowmobiles on the Garvie Plateau
On the water
Queenstown's mountain vistas are even more spectacular when viewed across rivers and lakes. Journey across Lake Whakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw, a 1912 Edwardian twin screw steamer with a wealth of history. Visit the coal room and watch the inner workings of the ship, grab a coffee and watch the mountains pass by from the steamship's cosy cabin, or step outside and experience the fresh mountain air.
Don a hat and gloves and prepare for some fast turns aboard one of Queenstown’s jet boats. This bucket list activity will have everyone grinning and giggling, with adrenaline-inducing 360 degree spins and turns. Operators often stop and relay facts and stories about the rivers and lake on the way too - great for history buffs.
For the ultimate bragging rights, try the Hydro Attack, a unique shark-shaped semi-submersible boat that dips and leaps along the lakefront. Or give parasailing a go and experience elevated views of Queenstown and the sensation of floating in a parachute - without the drop!
NZONE Skydiving Queenstown
So you’ve seen the mountains, but have you seen them from the air? Take to the skies with one of Queenstown’s most thrilling air-based operators on a tandem skydiving trip. Climb 15,000 feet before experiencing a life-changing 60 second free fall over white-capped mountain peaks. Then, float gently back towards Earth with your experienced guide. Or journey up Coronet Peak and take a bird’s eye view with a paragliding flight where you will coast above the ski field as you turn gently on the breeze.
Queenstown is home to the world's first commercial bungy jumping operation, so what better place to experience it? AJ Hackett Bungy operates from three locations around Queenstown and each offers a slightly different angle on the thrill of the jump. No matter which you choose, the golden memories are yours to keep. For something a little more gentle, literally rise before the sun in a hot air balloon, taking in the magic of a winter morning from up high.
Onsen Hot Pools
There are so many ways to tell yourself you’re worth it in Queenstown, from excellent cuisine and delicious cocktails to relaxing day spas and shopping trips. Head to the eforea spa at Hilton Queenstown located on Kelvin Heights Peninsula and enjoy the spa services on offer in this scenic setting, overlooking Lake Whakatipu and Frankton Beach. THC Nugget Point Hotel located at Arthur's Point also has a beautiful spa overlooking the Shotover River, including sauna, steam room, hot tub, salt water plunge pool and a roman bath.
Wine or craft beer tasting is an excellent way to relax and indulge in Queenstown on a crisp winter's day. Take a trip with a local tour operator or self-drive through Gibbston, stopping for tastings and a delicious meal at one of the award-winning cellar doors, breweries and restaurants.
Indulge in a little retail therapy or check out the local art galleries in Queenstown or Arrowtown before heading out for dinner and drinks. With over 150 bars and restaurants on offer, there are options to suit all tastes and requirements.
Gibbston Valley Winery
If you’re visiting Queenstown in winter, why not time your trip to coincide with one of the town’s amazing winter events? This year, Queenstown is hosting Welcome to Winter from 2-4 July. The festival will kick off with a literal bang in the form of a fireworks display and continue to entertain and amaze with live music, a winter market, in-town snowboarding and skiing displays, and more.
LUMA, an illuminated arts festival held on the Queen’s Birthday Weekend every year is one to add to your diary. During the festival, the Queenstown Gardens are brought to life with an incredible display of installations mixing light, sound and movement. A unique event that's fun for the whole family.
So there you are: there’s so much to do in Queenstown beyond the ski field. Get out there and experience winter your own way!