For travellers who seek the finest that the world has to offer
 

The ultimate guide to Queenstown in winter

When it comes to the best things to do in Queenstown in winter, New Zealand’s home of adventure has it all. Queenstown’s winter activities will take you to new heights; soar over New Zealand’s glaciers, heli-ski down mountains, bike around lakes and dine in world-class restaurants.

Queenstown is the kind of place that will leave you breathless. There’s the high altitudes of the Southern Alps, but there’s also mirrorlike Lake Whakatipu, vine-laced countryside and the atmospheric town itself. You can 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.

Experience Queenstown

When it comes to activities, Queenstown has it all. Go wine tasting at some of the many wineries around Otago. Take a bike ride, play golf, go on a jet boat or check the view from the Skyline Gondola. And you can taste the remarkable local produce at restaurants like True South Dining Room, Ayrburns Woolshed, Ben Bayly’s The Bathhouse, Botswana Butchery, Rātā, or Aosta in Arrowtown.

Botswana Butchery is a perennial Queenstown dining favourite
Botswana Butchery is a perennial Queenstown dining favourite

Ayrburn food and wine precinct

One of the most notable Queenstown attractions is the newly opened Ayrburn. The world-class food and wine precinct is located between Arrowtown and Queenstown. Established in 1864, Ayrburn Farm contains character heritage buildings including the Ayrburn Homestead at its heart along with a woolshed, stables, cart shed and dairy. Fast forward to December 2023, and these heritage buildings have been beautifully restored to house various dining and wine-tasting venues. The Woolshed offers casual dining; taste Ayrburn’s own fine wines in The Manure Room, sip an afternoon cocktail in The Burr Barr, and lick into freshly churned ice cream in The Dairy.

The newest Ayrburn addition, The Barrel Room, is not to be missed. Lined with 56 barrels, this underground wine cellar is an intimate piano bar and dining room serving a sophisticated menu of locally sourced dishes. Add Ayrburn’s divine outdoor spaces, gardens and fine wines, and you have a true food and wine experience.

The Barrel Room at Ayrburn
The Barrel Room at Ayrburn

Onsen Hot Pools Retreat & Day Spa

Luxuriating in the therapeutic hot water at Onsen Hot Pools Retreat & Day Spa is essential on any winter break in Queenstown. It will soothe muscles that are tight from skiing or snowboarding. Nature has a way of calming the soul, slowing your heartbeat, and making you feel at one with the world. Something to consider as you soak in a steaming hot onsen while you breathe in the pure mountain air and revel in the view over the Shotover River gorge and snow-sprinkled ridge. It is heavenly.

Spa days don’t get much better than those spent soaking at Onsen Hot Pools
Spa days don’t get much better than those spent soaking at Onsen Hot Pools

Queenstown luxury accommodation

Queenstown might be the adventure capital of New Zealand, but it also boasts an impressive array of exclusive accommodation. Read: 14 best luxury Queenstown accommodation

Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa

The best holiday in Queenstown combines skiing and wine experiences, but you can add pampering to the mix, too. The Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa is the ultimate place for a luxury wine and ski escape. Stay in one of the 24 stunning vineyard villas that overlook the vines of the historic organic pinot noir vineyard and winery. Ski at Cardrona, Treble Cone, The Remarkables or Coronet Peak during the day, then come home to a tranquil haven with lavish amenities for a glass of wine, a soak in the hot tub, a sauna, or to enjoy a fabulous ‘vinotherapy’ treatment in the spa. Finish your day with a gourmet dinner in The Lodge Restaurant, accompanied by a premium Gibbston Valley wine.

The Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa
The Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa

Skiing and snowboarding

Coronet Peak

The closest ski resort to Queenstown is Coronet Peak, a mere 20-minute drive. Coronet has 280 hectares of terrain for all levels, with non-skiers and sightseers not forgotten. Gondola cabins on the Coronet Express ensure everyone can enjoy the stunning views over the Wakatipu Basin. Coronet is also known for its night skiing, while early risers will want to take advantage of First Tracks, giving access to the perfectly groomed runs an hour before opening. The environment is key for the team here who are constantly working to control and eliminate non-native plants and pests, rejuvenate the area and bring back the native kārearea (New Zealand falcon).

The Remarkables

Coronet’s sibling, The Remarkables, is a 45-minute drive on the opposite side of Queenstown. The journey is breathtaking, and the views from the top are stupendous. The Remarkables has 385 hectares of terrain, and while every level is catered for, it is a particular favourite of those who love terrain parks. There are seven parks at the resort, with the Burton Stash Park the only one in the Southern Hemisphere and one of only six in the world. Ride the Curvey Basin Express to have a drink at the Corona Ice Bar at the top. The views are incredible.

© The Remarkables

Cardrona Alpine Resort

An hour from Queenstown, or 35 minutes from Wanaka, Cardrona Alpine Resort has 465 hectares of terrain and appeals to everyone from absolute beginners to Olympians. This season (along with sister resort Treble Cone) lift tickets will be capped to avoid overcrowding. Do not miss the Vista Bar, located at the top of McDougall’s Express Chondola. sit in a beanbag with a glass of Mumm Champagne and a side dish of breathtaking scenery.

Cardrona will be even better in 2025 with an extra 150 hectares of terrain in Soho Basin and a brand new six-seater chairlift.

Treble Cone Ski Area

Just under an hour away, Treble Cone is adored by advanced skiers and riders with 550 hectares to slide on. Advanced and expert riders head for the Saddle Basin with its open powder faces, natural half pipes, and the Motatapu Chutes. There are also plenty of intermediate runs in the Saddle and Home basins. The best place for a drink or snack is the Altitude Bar, where you can take in the incredible panorama over Lake Wanaka.

Heli-skiing

Tackling untouched slopes is a dream and the way to best experience it is by heli-skiing. Over The Top Helicopters are experts in heli-skiing and offer various combinations – you can go dog sledding, cat skiing, snowshoeing, and more with helicopter transfers. You can even book helicopter flights to the ski fields. The all-black fleet has two different types of Airbus helicopters – Eurocopter EC130 and the Squirrel AS350. They feature leather seats, plush carpet and Bose noise-cancelling headsets. Or set off on a helicopter tour to Fiordland to witness the otherworldly Milford Sound (you won’t regret it).

Explore untouched slopes with Over The Top Helicopters' tours
Explore untouched slopes with Over The Top Helicopters' tours

Wherever you stay and whatever you do, the scenery will be the hero of your holiday. From the pristine lakes, braided rivers, gorgeous gorges and soaring peaks to verdant pastures and forests, Queenstown is a breath of fresh air. Stay longer. Take your time. And breathe.

This article was produced in partnership with Queenstown. queenstownNZ.co.nz Click here to read the Ultimate Guide to Queenstown ebook for free.