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A winter lover’s playground: 15 things to do in Queenstown this ski season

A winter lover’s playground: 15 things to do in Queenstown this ski season

If you've never visited the Southern Alps, these majestic mountains offer untold adventures. Queenstown - with its world-class ski fields, food, wine and nightlife - is the perfect launching pad. 

A winter lover’s playground: 15 things to do in Queenstown this ski season

Those who truly love winter know there’s nothing more satisfying than a holiday full of experiences unique to the season: rugging up in beanies and scarves, sipping mulled wine by an open fire, enjoying hearty meals and taking in snow- capped landscapes.

Queenstown is a winter lover’s paradise — not only does it offer a range of snow activities, but its superb eateries and nightlife make it a fabulous destination, no matter the weather. A winter holiday destination isn’t complete without ski fields, and Queenstown visitors have four fantastic mountains at their fingertips.

Coronet Peak is Queenstown’s most accessible ski area, just a 20-minute drive away, while The Remarkables is 45 minutes from downtown. Over the beautiful Crown Range is Cardrona, offering great family facilities; and Treble Cone, a favourite for advanced skiers and snowboarders.

Snow play

Skiing and snowboarding

Each of Queenstown’s four ski fields offer a variety of trails suitable for all abilities, plus gear hire is available on and off-mountain. Queenstown has a long ski season that runs from June through October, so there’s plenty iii of time to make multiple trips and try out all four mountains.

Mountaineering and climbing

The snowy Southern Alps are the perfect place for mountaineering, whether you’re a beginner hoping to take a learner’s course, or an experienced climber looking for a new challenge. Experienced local guides are on hand to steer you through a safe climb, no matter your skill level.

Snowmobiles

Take in exquisite views of Mt Cook, Mt Aspiring and even Stewart Island on a clear day, with a snowmobile adventure. Queenstown Snowmobiles offers New Zealand’s only heli-snowmobiling adventure, with trails and backcountry riding that are accessible by helicopter only.

Dog Sledding

Embark on a tour through the high trails of the Southern Alps with a sled dog team. Over the Top helicopter company takes you on a flight through backcountry terrain before teaching you what you need to know about dog sledding and introducing you to the huskies who will take you along the trails.

Snowshoeing

Climbing Queenstown offers Alpine Guided Snowshoeing, suitable for people of any age and most fitness levels. It’s a great way to experience the snow away from the ski fields; you’ll be taken off the beaten track where you can take in the stunning scenery of The Remarkables.

Food & drink

Aprés-ski

There’s no better way to wind down after a busy day of skiing than with a warming mulled wine or a refreshing beer. Historic pubs such as Cargo at Gantley’s and The Blue Door are institutions that are a must-visit, Little Blackwood should be your go-to for espresso martinis and Rhino’s Ski Shack is where to dance the night away.

Wineries

A glass of Central Otago pinot noir is the perfect winter beverage, and it’s best enjoyed at the winery it hails from. There are over 200 wineries within a two-hour drive from Queenstown. Many of them also boast excellent restaurants showcasing local produce.

Restaurants

Winter is a time to indulge in rich, warming meals, and many of New Zealand’s best eateries can be found in Queenstown. Whether you want to sample dishes at some of the country’s top fine-dining restaurants such as Rata or Amisfield, or would prefer something quick and low key like Fergburger, there are options to suit all tastes and budgets.

Breweries

Queenstown has a flourishing craft beer scene, and is home to six craft breweries and three craft beer bars, Join a group with a local tour provider, make your way around the breweries yourself or park up at one for an afternoon. If you’d rather walk around town to sample the local brews, try downtown’s three craft beer houses: Atlas Beer Cafe, Smiths Craft Beer House and Beech Tree.

Nightlife

The party doesn’t stop in Queenstown just because the weather is cold. In fact, Queenstown’s nightlife really comes alive during the winter months, and there is something for every taste. The Lodge Bar and Eichardt’s Bar both have a cosy ambience for when you want to relax with a cocktail, Yonder and The Ballarat are great for live music and The Bunker, Attiga and Barmuda will have you dancing to DJs all night.

Off-Mountain Activities

Sightseeing

Beyond seeing stunning views from the mountains, there are a variety of ways to experience Queenstown’s scenery by land, lake or air. Soar across the alpine landscape by helicopter or plane, discover the beauty of the lakes with a scenic cruise, or gaze at the spectacular stars on a clear night.

Wellness

There are so many ways to make the most of ‘me time’ in Queenstown. A winter getaway calls for time spent soaking in a hot tub, soa visit to the iconic Onsen Hot Pools is a must. Book yourself into one of the town’s many wonderful day spas, or indulge and unwind with a stay at a luxury facility such as Aro Ha Wellness Retreat.

Adrenaline

No trip to Queenstown would be complete without accomplishing at least one of the town’s famous adrenaline activities. Whether it’s bungy-jumping, a jet-boat ride, off-roading or sky-diving, put on some warm clothes and book in for some blood-pumping action that you’ll never forget.

Culture & Heritage

Queenstown is home to wonderful art galleries and museums that are well worth a visit. Be sure to check out galleries in both Queenstown and Arrowtown for some fabulous local artwork. There’s also a plethora of locations to visit to learn about the area’s history, from historic farm homesteads and goldmining villages, to sites with rich Maori heritage.

Shopping

Save your winter shopping for when you arrive in Queenstown – there’s no shortage of world-class boutiques to choose from. From the luxury of the lakefront Louis Vuitton store, to the Kiwi brands on show at the locally owned Angel Divine, you’ll discover plenty of places to purchase stylish staples for your winter wardrobe.

To learn more about what Queenstown has to offer, visit: queenstownNZ.co.nz

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