There is nothing quite like the magic of seeing your children experience something new - and Queenstown in winter is a sight to behold. Here’s your guide to some of the best things to do in Queenstown for families this winter.

Skiing and snow play fun

Just a short drive or ski bus ride from central Queenstown, Queenstown's four ski resorts, Coronet PeakThe Remarkables, Cardrona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone all offer ski lessons for kids in a fun environment. For parents, this means you can head out for a few hot laps, kid-free, before rejoining the family to see how much they have progressed. For preschoolers, instructors combine skiing with games and indoor play to ensure your kids are happy chappies upon pick-up. For older kids, instruction will begin on the learner slopes and progress up the hill as your kids develop their skills.

If you’re not interested in skiing, you can still have lots of snow fun by heading up the mountains to sightsee. You can take a sightseeing chairlift or gonodla up Coronet Peak, The Remarkables or Cardrona Alpine Resort and see the snow-capped peaks on high, or visit the snow play zone and try tobogganing, build a snowman, make snow angels, or have a snowball fight. For most young kids, playing in the snow is the best part of visiting a ski resort.

Plan your family ski holiday with this detailed guide.

Ski Lessons at The RemarkablesSki lessons at The Remarkables

Enjoy iconic family activities, together

No visit to Queenstown is complete without checking at least one of the alpine town’s iconic activities off your list – and winter is just as good a time as any to try them.

  • The Skyline Gondola takes you above central Queenstown, with lake and mountain views for miles. Kids will love the ride – and they will love the luge at the top even more.
  • Visit the Kawarau Bungy Centre in Gibbston to watch some brave folks plunge off the bridge into the gorge. Kids will be keen on the Kawarau Zipride, a fast and thrilling zipline that gives you a taste of the adventure of a bungy jump, without the sinking feeling.
  • At Kiwi Park, kids can view and learn about New Zealand’s most iconic bird and get up close and personal with fascinating, endangered wildlife at the entertaining 30-minute free flight show. 
  • Hop aboard the TSS Earnslaw to enjoy views from the majestic steamship of the mountains and the glistening lake, see the inner workings of the coal room and enjoy a coffee or hot chocolate from the on-board cafe. On arrival at Walter Peak, visit the working farm, take a horseback ride, or sit down to a buffet lunch before heading back to town.

TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship Cruise in WinterTSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship Cruise

A great range of indoor activities

When the weather isn’t playing fair, Queenstown has a great range of indoor activities, too.

In town, journey through the out-of-this-world Odyssey Sensory Maze, or take a trip below the lake and back in time to learn about Queenstown’s history with Time Tripper. Test your teen’s scare limits at Fear Factory, or try one of the many exciting options at Thrillzone such as glow-in-the-dark mini golf, laser tag or VR gaming. For mild adrenaline fun, try indoor skydiving at iFly and experience the thrill of flight. It's exciting for all ages (and mum-approved).

For a wintery option that will give everyone a giggle, try ice skating or the ice bumper cars at the Queenstown Ice Arena

In Frankton, there are several attractions all in one place. Go for a bounce at Site Trampoline, test your rock climbing skills in a safe, indoor environment at Basecamp Adventures, or try a game of family laser tag or go-cart racing at Game Over, where you can also enjoy an array of arcade games and win some prizes to take home. Afterwards, warm up at Alpine Aqualand, which has a hot tub for the adults and a lazy river and hydroslides for the kids!

People ice skating at Queenstown Ice ArenaIce Skating at the Queenstown Ice Arena

Breathtaking alpine landscapes to discover

Winter days in Queenstown are often clear and crisp. Make the most of the opportunity to dress up in those woolly hats and scarves that spend most of the year in your closet, and get outside into nature. Many incredible short walks can be done in an hour or two, earning you the right to warm up afterwards with hot chocolates (or mulled wine for Mum and Dad) at one of the great hospitality offerings in the area.

With over 130km of trails on offer, the Queenstown Trail connects all the main centres and weaves its way alongside the lakes and riverbanks, with stunning scenery around every corner. Wrap up warm, hop on a bike or foot and take a section of the trail for a spin. Stop for a warm-up in one of the cafes or pubs along the way.

Queenstown Hill is a steep but rewarding walk that ends at a dynamic sculpture called the Basket of Dreams. The views at the top are breathtaking, especially in winter where you may even encounter some snow. The journey up is a kind of magic of its own, with fairy houses hiding in the trees.

For something a little less strenuous, take a stroll around Queenstown Gardens and look up into the branches of the huge trees planted by early settlers. Kids will love to run around the tracks, finding pine cones and feeding the ducks in the fresh alpine air.

Or, head to Arrowtown for a day or two. Check out the historic Arrowtown Chinese miners settlement near the Arrow River, where you can duck inside the historic stone huts and read all about the history of these early gold miners. Finish this with a walk through the Lakes District Museum and Gallery to find out more about the rich history of this area. Arrowtown is also home to many great strolls along the banks of the river. On frosty days, kids will love crunching the ice and seeing crystals on the plants alongside the water.

Family enjoying themselves on Queenstown Beach in springQueenstown Lakefront

More ways to get more from your family winter trip to Queenstown

Discover what Queenstown's four ski resorts are doing to protect our alpine environment or get inspiration for a more immersive stay with our 6-day winter slow travel itinerary.

As you explore Queenstown together this winter, share your experiences with us on Instagram by tagging #QueenstownLive.