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A luxury guide to Queenstown’s best winter experiences

Soaring over New Zealand’s glaciers, heli-skiing down mountains, biking around lakes or refuelling in world-class restaurants, there are many incredible luxury winter activities in Queenstown.

Queenstown is the kind of place that will leave you breathless – in more ways than one. Yes, there’s the high altitudes of the Southern Alps, but there’s also mirrorlike Lake Whakatipu, dreamy vine-laced countryside and the atmospheric town itself, where wood fires crackle and wine glasses toast the end of another remarkable day in this winter wonderland.

Discover raw beauty in Queenstown’s frosted peaks, iridescent glacial lakes and rolling countryside. Or experience adrenaline-fuelled experiences. Whether skidding across rivers in a jet boat, soaring above in a helicopter, throwing yourself from a bungy bridge or racing down mountains on skis, New Zealand’s home of adventure lives up to its reputation.

Here’s where to find the action this snow season.

Queenstown at dusk. View from Bob's Peak

Queenstown ski resorts

With four ski resorts tucked in the majestic mountain ranges around Queenstown, winter offers a snow buffet for all.

Read: The ultimate guide to skiing in Queenstown

Coronet Peak

Coronet Peak is a popular first choice, as it’s the closest resort to Queenstown. It also caters to all levels, with 280 hectares of glorious runs and several high-speed chairlifts taking skiers and snowboarders up the mountain.

Non-skiers and sightseers are not forgotten, with beautiful gondola cabins on the Coronet Express to ensure everyone can enjoy stunning views over the Whakatipu Basin.

And at the base of the Rocky Gully T-bar, freshly renovated Heidi’s Hut is the perfect perch to refuel on pizzas, pasta, local wine and craft beers. As an added bonus, the resort turns 75 this year, which means you can look forward to celebrations throughout the season.

The Remarkables

On the opposite side of the valley sits The Remarkables, with its slick terrain parks including the Burton Stash. Which is one of only six in the world, and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere. But if you’re not into riding rails and getting some ‘big air’, The Remarkables also delivers fun beginner and intermediate terrain, as well as challenging black runs across its 385 hectares.

If nothing else, come here for the phenomenal view from the ridgeline at the top of the Shadow Basin chairlift. Oh, and another remarkable offering: head to the Ice Bar at the top of the Curvey Basin chair and raise a toast to this magical place with a glass of mulled wine or a beer.

© The Remarkables

Cardrona Alpine Resort

An hour’s drive from Queenstown over the beautiful Crown Range, Cardrona Alpine Resort is a true gem.

It’s suited to all levels of experience, no matter if you are an absolute beginner or a black-run junkie. It also appeals to freestyle riders thanks to its two half pipes, a big air jump and a gravity cross course. Much of the beauty of Cardrona is the friendliness of the people who work here, not to mention tucking into lunch at Mezz which is one of eight on-mountain eateries. The view from the Vista Bar at the top of the McDougall’s Express Chondola is incredible. While there you can pull up a beanbag, grab a glass of champagne and admire the views.

Treble Cone Ski Area

Sister resort to Cardrona, Treble Cone is the largest ski resort on the South Island. Advanced and expert riders head for the open powder faces and natural half pipes in the Saddle Basin. You’ll also find life-changing challenging terrain in the Motatapu Chutes. But there is also a decent beginner area down by the base, where you can enjoy a great meal. Or, refuel at Allpress at Altitude Bar, where you can get a coffee and delicious dish while soaking up incredible panoramas over Lake Wānaka and beyond.

Eating & drinking in Queenstown

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Aosta

Arrowtown’s Aosta takes its name from a city in northern Italy that lies on the same 45th parallel as the Central Otago region of New Zealand – with similar characteristics of season and terroir. Cooking techniques from this alpine region of Italy are applied to carefully selected local produce such as Saratoga Te Mana lamb and Havoc Farm pork, with inspired results thanks to Aosta’s highly awarded chef Ben Bayly. Top-rated New Zealand wines are served alongside the best Italy has to offer.

La Rumbla

Born out of a love for Spanish, Latin American and Med-style dining, La Rumbla in Arrowtown serves share plates with local flair. The tapas bar dishes up Fiordland octopus and seafood paella with scallops, prawns and mussels.

Amisfield

Also on the outskirts of Queenstown, Amisfield sits pretty on an organic winery. The restaurant is dedicated to sustainable, locally sourced products of ethical hunters, gatherers and farmers. Dine in the light-filled indoor cellar or alfresco in the relaxed kitchen garden for both lunch and dinner.

Rātā

Back in town, Rata’s menu features sustainable, seasonable produce. Chefs preserve, ferment and dehydrate New Zealand’s Southland flavours to serve guests year-round. It’s inventive and adventurous, with an eclectic wine list of both hard-to-find and highly regarded local drops.

The best restaurants in Queenstown
1 Rata chef Jonathon Williams. 2. Aosta interior

The Lodge Bar: Après-worthy Queenstown bar

The Lodge Bar is a bit like an exclusive club with grand views over Lake Whakatipu. It’s indulgent, but also casually elegant, with an overarching passion for the country’s finest food and wine. In short, the perfect place to warm up ski-weary limbs. The bar was created by Michelin-starred New Zealand chef Matt Lambert and applauded master sommelier Cameron Douglas.

Bardeaux Bar

Steps away, Bardeaux is the right mix of elegant, seductive, cosy and intimate. It’s a great location to catch live music or have a fireside party.

Ferg’s Bar

Ferg’s Bar has one of the most fun cocktail lists in town, featuring signature recipes such as Cookies and Cream (think house-infused vanilla vodka with gelato).

The Winery

Otago is one of the world’s greatest wine regions, and its drops star at The Winery. Explore a staggering collection of New Zealand premium wines, whiskies, gins and other spirits. Settle in for a tasting in the lounge, your beverage best accompanied by a platter of local cheeses, cured meats and breads.

Blue Door Bar

Partly hidden down a stone-lined alley in Arrowtown you’ll discover a blue door that leads to a subterranean whiskey wonderland. Open late, Blue Door Bar serves neat spirits and cocktails, all accompanied by live music. Listen to psyche rock or funk, or everything in between.

Cocktails at Ferg’s Bar are hot
Cocktails at Ferg’s Bar are hot

Queenstown luxury accommodation

Read: 13 best luxury Queenstown accommodation

Azur Lodge

The spectacular nine-villa Azur Lodge offers the best of both worlds – a remote hilltop setting that will make you feel like you have Queenstown to yourself… and an easy commute into town. All accommodations and shared spaces overlook Lake Whakatipu and the Remarkables, with too many perches to choose from when it comes to cocktail hour – your private patio may just win.

The Rees Hotel Queenstown

Secluded and private, The Rees Hotel’s accommodations are designed to capture jaw-dropping water and mountain views. One of the perks here is having a ‘Luxury Travel Curator’ to call upon, whether that’s to reserve a table at the hotel’s applauded True South dining room or organise a day of adventure around Queenstown.

The Carlin Boutique Hotel

With competing views is the brand new The Carlin. Check in to the penthouse and you have seven bedrooms at your disposal, not to mention three lounge rooms and just as many outdoor spas. But all rooms are indulgent, with gas fires and lake views.

Eichardt’s Private Hotel

Queenstown’s most historic haven, Eichardt’s Private Hotel retains the grandeur and charm it was given when built in the mid-1800s. Set right on the lake, the property offers everything from super-chic suites to waterside apartments, a self-contained residence and the piece de resistance: the Penthouse. Check-in here and you can enjoy indoor and outdoor kitchens, two sleek bedrooms, marbled bathrooms, a sauna, spa and Queenstown’s largest private terrace – replete with pool and fireplace.

Millbrook Resort

The two, three and four-bedroom Resort Homes at Millbrook are ideal for families, with kitchens, living areas and gardens overlooking the fairways and greens of the resort’s namesake golf course and country club. The spa is a welcome retreat.

Blanket Bay Lodge

Blanket Bay Lodge is a blissful Relais & Châteaux member tucked into the base of the Richardson Mountains. The Owner’s Residence stands out for its private setting, country kitchen and manicured gardens. Begin your evening, glass of Otago wine in hand, in the Great Room and Den, then enjoy an alfresco dinner watching the sun cast colours over the lake. Dining is a true highlight. During the day, jump on the Dart River Jet (it picks you up from the private dock) or make the most of the on-site helipad and chopper over Milford Sound.

Queenstown luxury experiences

Private alpine cat experience

While Cardrona skiers can enjoy a slice of Soho Basin, there is another way to experience it with an unforgettable luxury snow adventure unlike any other in New Zealand.

Soho Basin is a private alpine cat experience giving groups of up to 24 intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders access to pristine, untouched snow. You also get to enjoy incredible wine provided by applauded regional restaurant Amisfield. Enjoy breakfast at this world-class establishment; when it is time for lunch, don’t expect the usual quick slice of pizza and hot chocolate, a chef will prepare you a three-course gourmet experience to enjoy in the serenity of the Southern Alps. After more runs from the cat in the afternoon, the day concludes with an après-ski barbecue

Heli-Skiing

The Helicopter Line provides choppers for heli-skiing through Harris Mountains Heli-Ski. You’re whisked up into the snowy peaks around Queenstown and Wānaka for a day that you will never forget.

Take your pick of a three-run package, the relaxed-pace four-run day, the seven-run package for experienced skiers and boarders, and the Max Vert 10-run package, which is very fast-paced. If you are having a wonderful time and want to add runs to your package, you can do that, too. It’s not every day you have a helicopter to drop you off up the top of perfect slopes lined with untouched and often powdery snow.

Spa experiences

Soothe ski-weary limbs at the Onsen Hot Pools, Millbrook Spa or Body Sanctum. Onsen Hot Pools are particularly enjoyable at dusk while the Body Sanctum day spa can come to you at any time of the day.

Snow gear delivered to your door

Snopro can deliver ski gear directly to your hotel door. The company rents out top-of-the-line winter equipment, whether skis, boards, boots or helmets – you can also have the customer service team fit you with outer gear.

The best winter activities in Queenstown

This article was produced in partnership with Queenstown. queenstownNZ.co.nz

Click here to read the Ultimate Guide to Queenstown ebook for free.