For a New Zealand winter getaway with beauty and adventure, get down in Queenstown

By MiNDFOOD

queenstown skiing
Along with its world-class ski resorts and après-ski, Queenstown now has a fast-growing reputation for sustainable tourism.

If there were a destination that perfectly captures the beauty and adventure of a New Zealand winter getaway, it would surely be Queenstown. Flanked by the snowy Remarkables mountain range, it’s almost as if the alpine town has been designed as a haven for winter enthusiasts. At this time of year, the slopes come alive with eager snow bunnies looking to carve tracks on the fresh powder, while also taking in the majestic beauty of the natural landscapes and vibrant nightlife.

Queenstown is also becoming a destination for sustainable tourism, with many local operators working to protect and preserve the landscape. The team at Coronet Peak, for example, have developed a programme to eliminate non-native plants and pests and rejuvenate the area, hoping to bring back the numbers of native New Zealand falcon. Visitors can make the most of sustainable options with frequent buses to access the mountains and a number of après ski destinations within walking distance of the CBD.

Hit the slopes

The beauty of Queenstown’s four ski areas is that they offer a range of terrain for all levels, with the convenience of being 20 to 90 minutes’ drive out of town or a short bus trip. From the first snowfall, typically around mid-June, these four mountains – The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone – are open, with the ski season typically running until September.

queenstown snowboarding
Snowboarding off The Remarkables.

Beginners can learn to ski or snowboard, with plenty of groomed runs and entry-level routes where you can learn the basics while still enjoying the world-class slopes. For the seasoned skier or snowboarder, tackle the adventure of off-piste “freeride” terrain. For a truly memorable experience, enjoy the thrill of night skiing at Coronet Peak and head up the mountain to watch the sunset before cruising down the floodlit slopes under the blanket of a starry night sky.

Sightseeing & entertainment

As well as skiing and snowboarding, there are many other sightseeing activities on and off the mountains. E-bikes are a wonderful way to get around the township while reducing your carbon footprint and there are a number of operators you can hire from. For epic views of Queenstown, hop on the Peak Gondola at Coronet Peak. Take flight in a hot air balloon with Sunrise Balloons and discover the splendour of Queenstown and its surroundings. Or hit the water on a scenic boat cruise, journeying along Lake Whakatipu aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw steamship. Make the most of the clear nights on the Skyline Gondola, offering regular stargazing tours from high above Queenstown. And for indoor fun, the new Kingpin entertainment complex features bowling lanes, escape rooms, karaoke, VR experiences and arcade games.

queenstown sunrise balloons
Greet the day with Sunrise Balloons.

Snow activities

There are plenty of ways to enjoy the snow that don’t involve skis or a snowboard. Yoonering is a fantastic way to get used to the slopes, letting you carve down the mountain on a comfortable seated ski. Snowshoeing is another fun way to get away from the crowds and experience the untouched beauty of the mountain. Climbing Queenstown offers guided snowshoe tours that take you off the beaten track and are suitable for most fitness levels. A wilderness snowmobile tour with Queenstown Snowmobiles will take you to new heights, journeying across pristine snow at up to 6,000 feet.

queenstown snow mobile
Give snowmobiling a go.

Après-ski

It’s not a winter ski holiday without après-ski and Queenstown’s got plenty of cosy spots to enjoy this winter tradition. After a day on the slopes, head down to the buzzing Queenstown centre and warm up with classic winter drops like hot mulled cider, local pinot noir and craft beer. With much of the wine and craft beer on sale produced locally, your environmental footprint is kept nice and low as well.

queenstown heidi's hut
Take in the view at Heidi’s Hut.

Queenstown’s famous Ice Bar has opened another Scandinavian-inspired ice lounge, situated in the new lifestyle and entertainment hub at Upper Village. Set at a crisp -10°C, you can ‘chill out’, enjoy ice glass cocktails and marvel at the amazing ice sculptures. Located at the base of Coronet Peak, a boutique gin garden from Broken Heart Spirits is a popular spot to enjoy tasting flights, gin cocktails and locally sourced fare. The Fork and Tap in Arrowtown is a local favourite and a cosy spot to enjoy a mulled wine, while the Blue Door Bar is the spot for live music on Wednesday and Fridays. Cargo at Gantleys is another historic pub that’s perfect for après ski. And for cocktails, head down a little alleyway to The Bunker, an intimate cocktail bar where you’ll find some of the best cocktails in town.

Wine tasting

Known for producing some of the best pinot noir in the world, Central Otago has an abundance of worldclass wineries and cellar doors to discover. Gibbston is home to internationally award-winning wineries, including Gibbston Valley, Kinross and Brennan Wines, many of which come with fantastic restaurants and luxury lodgings. And Amisfield winery and restaurant is leading the way when it comes to sustainability, having become a BioGro-certified organic winery.

queenstown kinross eatery
Kinross Bistro and Cellar Door.

Winter events

Queenstown really comes alive during the winter months. The Welcome to Winter returns for four action-packed days from 7 – 10 July. The ultimate celebration of the snowy season, the epic long weekend features local markets, entertaining live music and dazzling fireworks displays. Winter Pride runs from 26 August to 4 September, painting the town rainbow for 10 days of pride celebrations, including live music and a spectacular parade. Snow Machine 2022 from 7 – 10 September is four days of music, fun and après adventure – the ultimate ski trip and music festival rolled into one. And on 10 September, the country’s top athletes converge for Peak to Peak, the South Island’s biggest winter multi-sport event. Starting high on the Remarkables and finishing at Coronet Peak, competitors take part in five stages across different disciplines, including biking, kayaking and skiing.

queenstown boat
Enjoy a drink at Perky’s Floating Bar.

What to wear

Winter days in Queenstown typically range from 5-8°C and can drop to -2°C at night so it’s important to pack appropriately. The great thing about the area is that it is usually calm with light winds and blue skies. However, be prepared with warm clothes, including thermal layers, warm socks, boots and a good down jacket.

 

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

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