Queenstown In Winter

20 Best Things to do in Queenstown in Winter: Top Activities

Things to Do in 20 Best Things to do in Queenstown in Winter: Top Activities in Winter

Queenstown is known as the world’s adventure capital! This beautiful town nestled among the snow-capped mountains of New Zealand’s South Island is a winter wonderland for families and adrenaline junkies alike.

Our first trip to New Zealand took us to Queenstown in the winter (Summer in the U.S), and it’s been our favorite destination for our family out of the many places we have traveled to.

Queenstown Overview
Tss Earnslaw
Queenstown Shotover

Queenstown Overview

Top Thing To Do: Shotover Jet Boat Ride

Where To Stay: One of our favorite hotels in downtown Queenstown is the Novotel Queenstown. This hotel boasts a central location, making exploring the town easy and enjoying its many restaurants, cafes, and shops.

Where To Eat: Fogo Brazilian BBQ Experience

How To Get There: Queenstown (ZQN) is the closest airport, just a few minutes from downtown. Long-distance international flights require a connection in Auckland (AKL)

Getting to Queenstown

Getting To Queenstown: Things To Do In Queenstown In Winter

Getting to Queenstown, New Zealand, from the United States can be a long and tiring journey, but the breathtaking scenery awaiting you makes it all worth it. Most flights from the US require a layover in Auckland, which adds extra hours to the already lengthy journey. However, the beautiful views of New Zealand‘s mountains and landscapes from the window seat make the long flight worthwhile.

As you approach Queenstown, the dramatic peaks of the Southern Alps come into view, providing a stunning and unforgettable sight. The airport is just a few kilometers from the town center, and a shuttle or taxi can take you directly to your accommodation.

While the journey may be daunting, it’s important to note that Queenstown is a world-renowned destination for a reason. The town’s stunning natural beauty, abundant outdoor activities, and rich culture make it worth the trip. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the incredible views on the way to this unique destination.

Where to Stay in Queenstown

When staying in Queenstown, there are many great options to consider. However, if you’re looking for a convenient and family-friendly option, we highly recommend staying in the downtown area. This bustling area is just a short walk to Lake Wakatipu, where you can enjoy stunning views and outdoor activities.

Our Pick
Novotel Queenstown

Novotel Queenstown

One of our favorite hotels in downtown Queenstown is the Novotel Queenstown. This hotel boasts a central location, making exploring the town easy and enjoying its many restaurants, cafes, and shops. The Novotel Queenstown offers spacious family rooms, making it a great choice for those traveling with children.

The Novotel also has a great breakfast buffet included in some rates.

Check Expedia
Check Booking.com

another great choice
Crown Plaza Queenstown

Crowne Plaza Queenstown

The Crowne Plaza Hotel Queenstown is an excellent accommodation option for travelers visiting Queenstown. This hotel boasts a stunning location overlooking Lake Wakatipu, offering great views of the mountains.

The hotel’s location is also a plus, within walking distance of many of Queenstown’s best attractions, restaurants, and shops.

Check Expedia
Check Booking.com

1. Experience the Unforgettable Shotover Jet Adventure

Queenstown Shotover Jet

Without question, the Shotover Jet in Queenstown is easily the best excursion we have done on any trip. This thrilling adventure is popular for good reason and an experience you’ll remember forever. We’d consider a detour to Queenstown on a future trip just for this ride!

The Queenstown adventure of a lifetime awaits you on the Shotover Canyon Jet Boat ride. This heart-pounding experience takes you soaring through the narrow canyons of the Shotover River, surrounded by the majestic mountains of Queenstown. As you skim the Kawarau River, you’ll be dazzled by the canyon walls’ amazing scenery and the jet boat’s incredible power. The adrenaline rush you’ll experience as you take sharp turns and speed through the canyon is unforgettable. Hold on tight for 360-degree spins and other exciting maneuvers as you explore the canyon at breakneck speeds.

With its breathtaking views, thrilling ride, and incredible experience, the Shotover Canyon Jet Boat ride is an unforgettable Queenstown adventure that should not be missed.

Shotover Jet will surely be a hit with older kids, and even young children can enjoy it, depending on their adventure level. For example, our 7-year-old loved it!

Click here to book or learn more.

2. Discover New Zealand’s Rural Life on the TSS Earnslaw Steamboat & Farm Tour

Tss Earnslaw

The Walter Peak High Country Farm Tour on TSS Earnslaw offers a unique insight into New Zealand’s rural life and is one of the best things to do during your visit to Queenstown. This day trip lake cruise was a relaxing way to balance out the adrenaline-filled Shotover Jet ride. This tour starts with a steamboat ride across Lake Whakatipu, providing stunning views of the Remarkables Mountain Range and the Southern Alps.

Upon arrival, visitors explore the working sheep farm and witness the amazing skill of the farm dogs herding the sheep. After the farm tour, visitors enjoy a delicious lunch and drinks on the historic homestead. The return steamboat scenic cruise provides more stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding scenery.

This tour is a great way to experience New Zealand’s rural life’s beauty and stunning landscapes. It’s a fantastic option for the entire family, especially for younger children who may not be ready for the excitement of a jet boat canyon ride.

There are several options for the tour, including a tour with lunch or a tour with afternoon tea with some snacks like biscuits, which is the option we chose. Alternatively, you can take the steamship cruise without the farm tour, but our entire family enjoyed the farm tour and would do it again.

Click here for your TSS Earnslaw experience options, including farm tours with lunch or tea.

Queenstown In Winter

3. Embark on a Breathtaking Glacier Helicopter Landing Adventure

The 50-minute Glacier Explorer Flight is an incredible choice for those looking to take in the awe-inspiring mountain scenery of Queenstown, complete with a landing on a glacier! This once-in-a-lifetime experience allows you to witness the region’s pristine beauty from a bird’s-eye view and feel the crisp, cool air as you touch down on a magnificent glacier.

Glacier Helicopter Landing Adventure

Another great option is to combine a helicopter ride with a tour of Milford Sound (mentioned earlier in the article). This combination offers the best of both worlds, as you’ll enjoy a scenic helicopter ride over the mountains and a cruise through the stunning fiords of Milford Sound. However, it’s worth noting that the weather can be unpredictable, and there’s a possibility that it might not cooperate with your planned adventure, as it happened during our recent June visit.

When the weather does permit, these helicopter tours provide an unforgettable and unparalleled experience, showcasing the majestic beauty of Queenstown and its surrounding areas.

Click here to book and check Glacier tour prices.

4. Discover the Magical Milford Sound

Magical Milford Sound

Milford Sound is undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking places in New Zealand. It might be a long drive to get there but trust me; it’s worth every mile. The weather can be unpredictable in the winter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t revel in the awe-inspiring scenery.

The best things to do in Milford Sound include taking a scenic cruise and soaking in the stunning views of the majestic mountains, towering cliffs, and cascading waterfalls. Keep your eyes peeled for the abundant wildlife that calls this enchanting place home, including seals, dolphins, and penguins.

While Milford Sound is a fantastic destination, it’s important to note that it’s a full-day trip to get there and back from Queenstown. Expect about 12 hours from start to finish. However, this tour has more thrilling and faster (albeit more expensive) options, such as round-trip helicopter transportation from Queenstown (approximately 4 hours). Keep in mind that these flying options are weather-dependent. The weather didn’t allow for these options during our short June stay.

Here are the different options for transportation to and from Queenstown.

5. Experience a Fun-Filled Family Rafting Adventure on the Shotover River

Whitewater Rafting Queenstown

Family Adventures offers a fantastic 4 1/2-hour river adventure perfect for younger kids, with a minimum age of just 3 years! This rafting trip provides an exciting and safe way for the whole family to enjoy the amazing views of the Shotover River and its surroundings.

With the help of an experienced guide, you’ll navigate the Shotover River’s class I and II rapids, ensuring that even the youngest members of your family can participate in this thrilling outdoor activity. As you paddle through the gentle rapids, you’ll be surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of Queenstown’s landscape, making it an unforgettable experience for everyone involved.

Whether it’s your family’s first time rafting or you’re a seasoned adventurer, the Family Adventures rafting trip caters to all skill levels, ensuring that everyone has a fantastic time on the water while bonding with loved ones.

Click here to book or check prices.

6. Experience a Winter Wonderland at Coronet Peak Ski Area

Cornet Peak

Coronet Peak in Queenstown is ideal for a winter family day out, especially with kids. Skiing down the slopes of Coronet Peak, just a short shuttle drive from Queenstown is a thrilling experience, and the remarkable scenery of the Remarkables mountain range will stay with you forever.

For our Florida-born kids, this was their first time seeing snow, and it happened to be in June!

Why not give family skiing lessons a try? They’re a fantastic way to introduce your little ones to the joys of skiing. Snow tubing is a fantastic option for a different type of fun or young kids. Younger kids will also adore Coronet Peak’s ice castle! The snow tubing experience is a great way to get kids outdoors and blast in the snow. Coronet Peak is a popular destination for families and kids, and the snow tubing experience will surely be a hit with everyone.

Another fantastic ski field in Queenstown is the Remarkables Ski Area. With various slopes catering to all skill levels, it’s a great spot to enjoy winter fun. Plus, you can’t beat the spectacular views of the surrounding mountains!

7. Reach New Heights on the Skyline Gondola

Skyline Gondola

One of the best ways to take in the incredible views of Queenstown and its surrounding mountains is by hopping on the Skyline Gondola. As you ascend to the top of Bob’s Peak, you’ll be treated to a breathtaking panorama of the region’s picturesque landscape.

Activities at the Top of Bob’s Peak

Once you’ve reached the summit, there’s no shortage of activities to entertain you.

Stratosfare Restaurant: After working up an appetite, indulge in a delicious meal at the Stratosfare Restaurant. Offering a scrumptious buffet featuring the best of New Zealand’s local produce, you can savor a wide array of dishes while taking in the stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains. Book your table in advance to secure a spot in this popular dining destination.

Market Kitchen Café: If you’re looking for a more casual dining experience, the Market Kitchen Café is a great option. Offering a range of sandwiches, salads, and baked goods, you can grab a quick bite before continuing your adventures at Bob’s Peak.

Luge: For a thrilling ride, try out the Skyline Luge, a gravity-fueled cart that takes you on an exhilarating journey through twists, turns, and tunnels. With two tracks to choose from – the scenic and the advanced track – you can enjoy the ride at your own pace and skill level. It’s fun for the whole family, and you can ride as many times as you like.

Skyline Gondola Luge

Stargazing: As the day turns into night, the Skyline complex transforms into a magical stargazing destination. With the help of experienced guides and powerful telescopes, you can embark on a celestial journey, learning about the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky and spotting constellations, planets, and distant galaxies.

Mountain Biking: Bob’s Peak offers an extensive network of world-class downhill biking trails if you’re a enthusiast. With varying levels of difficulty, there’s something for every skill level. Rent a bike at the top or bring your own and experience the thrill of riding through the breathtaking alpine landscape.

Hiking: Several walking and hiking trails start from the top of the gondola for nature lovers. Whether after a leisurely stroll or a more challenging hike, you’ll find a trail to suit your needs. The trails are well-marked and offer spectacular views of the surrounding area.

8. Savor the Flavors of Queenstown’s Culinary Delights

Winter in Queenstown isn’t just about snow and adventure; it’s also an excellent opportunity to indulge in the mouth-watering local cuisine this charming town offers. Treat yourself to a heartwarming mulled wine at one of the many welcoming pubs, or cozy up with a rich hot chocolate at a snug café. These warm beverages are perfect for thawing out after a day of frosty fun.

If you’re craving a sweet treat, don’t hesitate to try some delectable ice cream at a local parlor like Patagonia Chocolates. Despite the chilly weather, you’ll find that their heavenly flavors are worth braving the cold for.

Exploring Queenstown’s culinary scene is a delightful way to experience the local culture and create lasting memories with your loved ones. So, spoil your taste buds with this enchanting winter wonderland’s diverse and scrumptious offerings.

9. Saddle Up for a Horseback Riding Adventure

Explore the beautiful landscapes of Queenstown and its surroundings on horseback. Book a top-rated horseback riding tour and experience the stunning scenery uniquely and memorably.

Various tours suit all levels, from beginners to experienced riders. You can ride through picturesque valleys, cross sparkling rivers, or explore the breathtaking mountain trails. Some tours even take you to the filming locations of Lord of the Rings for an unforgettable experience. However, remember that winter weather may not always cooperate, so it’s essential to check with the tour operators beforehand to ensure the conditions are suitable for horseback riding.

10. Take the Leap at the Ledge Bungy

Ledge Bungy

While not a kid-friendly activity, check out the Ledge Bungy for a unique bungee jumping experience. Located at the top of the Skyline Gondola, this bungy jump offers jaw-dropping views of Queenstown and its surrounding mountains as you take the exhilarating leap. Feel your heart race as you jump from a platform suspended 400 meters above the town, making it an adrenaline rush you won’t soon forget!

The Ledge Bungy is a unique experience perfect for thrill-seekers visiting Queenstown in winter.

11. Venture to Treble Cone for More Skiing Adventures

If you’re eager to explore more ski fields during your visit, consider taking a short drive to Treble Cone. This ski resort is nestled in the majestic Southern Alps and boasts an expansive terrain with challenging slopes that cater to more experienced skiers and snowboarders.

The stunning views from Treble Cone will take your breath away, and the variety of runs provides an exhilarating experience for those looking to push their skiing or snowboarding skills to new heights. So, if you’re seeking more snowy adventures, don’t hesitate to visit this remarkable ski resort.

12. Sip Your Way Through Central Otago’s Wine Region

Entral Otago'S Wine Region

Feeling a bit chilly? Warm up with a wine tasting in the Gibbston Valley, part of the renowned Central Otago wine region. Known for producing some of the best Pinot Noir in the world, it’s a must-visit for wine lovers. With over 100 vineyards and wineries spread across the region, you’re in for a treat as you journey through picturesque vineyards and sample some of New Zealand’s finest wines. Many tour operators offer guided wine tours, making exploring the area’s cellar doors enjoyable.

Wine Tour Options

Guided Wine Tours: For a hassle-free experience, consider joining a guided wine tour. These tours typically include transportation, a knowledgeable guide, and visits to multiple wineries, where you’ll have the opportunity to taste various wines and learn about the winemaking process. Some tours also offer lunch options or wine and food pairings, allowing you to indulge in the region’s culinary delights while sampling its finest wines.

Self-Drive Wine Tours: If you prefer a more independent experience, self-drive wine tours are an excellent option. With a designated driver in your group, you can visit the wineries at your own pace, taking the time to savor each sip and truly immerse yourself in the Central Otago wine region’s unique terroir.

Cycling Wine Tours: Consider embarking on a cycling wine tour for a more active and eco-friendly wine-tasting experience. Tour operators offer bike rentals and route suggestions, allowing you to pedal through the picturesque vineyards and visit wineries.

Notable Wineries in Central Otago

While there are numerous wineries worth visiting in the region, here are a few standouts that you should consider adding to your itinerary:

  • Amisfield Winery & Bistro: This award-winning winery is known for its exceptional Pinot Noir and aromatic white wines. Visit their cellar door for a tasting or enjoy a leisurely lunch at their bistro, where they serve various seasonal dishes made with locally sourced ingredients.
  • Gibbston Valley Winery: As one of the region’s founding wineries, Gibbston Valley Winery offers a range of premium wines and a unique wine cave experience. Enjoy a guided cave tour and wine tasting while learning about the winery’s history and winemaking process.
  • Mt. Difficulty Wines: This iconic winery is known for its exceptional wines and stunning location, offering breathtaking views of the Central Otago landscape. Sample their flagship Pinot Noir and other varietals as you enjoy the spectacular scenery.
  • Peregrine Wines: With a commitment to sustainable winemaking practices, Peregrine Wines produces high-quality wines with a focus on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Riesling. Visit their modern, architecturally designed cellar door for a memorable wine-tasting experience.

13. Discover the Beauty of Queenstown Gardens

 Queenstown Gardens

For a more relaxed outing, take a stroll through the Queenstown Gardens. This beautiful park is just a short walk from central Queenstown and offers a peaceful escape amidst stunning scenery.

Queenstown Gardens is a must-visit for those looking to enjoy a relaxing day outdoors in Queenstown. Located just a short walk from central Queenstown, the park offers stunning scenery with the perfect blend of manicured gardens and natural landscapes.

The gardens are home to various walking trails, making it easy to explore the park’s different areas at your own pace. The walking trails wind through the park’s lush gardens and natural landscapes, providing breathtaking views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains. The park is also home to a large duck pond, a popular spot for feeding the ducks and enjoying the serene surroundings.

The Queenstown Gardens are not just for walking; there are plenty of activities to enjoy here. The park has a Frisbee glf course perfect for a fun-filled day with friends and family. You can rent a bike and explore the park’s trails on two wheels. There is a playground for children to enjoy, and plenty of picnic tables and benches to sit and relax in the sunshine.

The gardens are also home to various unique features, such as the Queenstown Ice Arena, which is perfect for those looking for an indoor activity. The ice arena offers public skating sessions, ice hockey games, and figure skating lessons.

The Queenstown Gardens are open year-round, making it a great destination no matter the season. In the winter months, the gardens offer a peaceful escape from the busy ski slopes, while in the summer, the gardens are a great place to relax and soak up the sun.

14. Experience the Ultimate Thrill with AJ Hackett Bungy

Attention, adrenaline junkies! Queenstown is home to the world’s first commercial bungy jump site, AJ Hackett Bungy. Take the plunge and experience the thrill of a lifetime as you soar above the breathtaking Shotover River Canyon. Feel the rush of adrenaline course through your veins as you bungee jump from the historic Kawarau Bridge or dare to conquer the Nevis Bungy, one of the highest bungy jumps in the world.

This exhilarating activity is perfect for thrill-seekers and those looking to challenge themselves during their Queenstown winter getaway.

15. Soak in the Original Onsen Hot Pools

 Onsen Hot Pools

After all that excitement, you’ll be ready to relax and unwind. Head to the Onsen Hot Pools for a unique experience, where you can soak in private hot tubs overlooking the Shotover River. It’s the perfect way to end a day of adventure!

If you’re looking for the ultimate relaxation experience in Queenstown, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Onsen Hot Pools. Located in Arthur’s Point, just a short drive from central Queenstown, this unique hot pool complex offers private hot tubs with stunning views of the Shotover River and surrounding mountains.

Each hot tub has floor-to-ceiling windows in its private room, allowing you to soak in the area’s natural beauty while enjoying the warm water. The pools are filled with pure mountain water, providing a truly authentic and rejuvenating experience.

The Onsen Hot Pools offer a variety of packages to suit your needs, including options for couples, families, and groups. You can even order food and drinks while soaking in the pools, making it the perfect way to unwind after a long day of exploring Queenstown.

In addition to the private hot tubs, the Onsen Hot Pools offer a communal pool with even more stunning views. It’s a great option for those who want to socialize while enjoying the hot pools’ relaxing benefits.

16. Join the Festivities at the Queenstown Winter Festival

If you’re lucky enough to visit during the Queenstown Winter Festival, you’re in for a treat! This annual event brings the town to life with live music, dazzling fireworks, and plenty of family-friendly activities for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to check the festival dates and join in on the fun, creating memories that will last a lifetime!

17. Immerse Yourself in the World of Lord of the Rings

Attention, Lord of the Rings fans! Queenstown and its surrounding areas were filming locations for the epic movie trilogy. Embark on a guided tour to explore iconic spots like the Arrow River, the location of the Ford of Bruinen, and the Remarkables mountain range, which represents the Misty Mountains.

For an even more immersive experience, you can try horse riding, just like the movie characters, with a Lord of the Rings horse riding tour. Step into the world of Middle-earth and relive the magic of the beloved film series.


18. Chill Out at the Ice Bar

Looking for a unique night out? Head to Minus 5° ICE BAR, where everything, from the walls to the glasses, is made of ice! Bundle up in provided jackets and gloves, and enjoy a frosty cocktail in this cool (literally) establishment.

19. Kiwi Park Queenstown

Kiwi Park Queenstown is a great place for families to explore and experience the native wildlife of New Zealand. Kids will love seeing over 20 native species, including the iconic kiwi bird, in their natural habitat. The park has plenty of things to do, from learning about the native species at the wildlife center to taking part in guided hikes. With its beautiful scenery and abundance of wildlife, Kiwi Park Queenstown is an ideal spot for kids to learn about the native plants and animals of New Zealand. Whether looking for a fun day out with the family or observing some of the country’s most beloved wildlife, Kiwi Park Queenstown is the perfect destination.

20. Hit the Road for a Scenic Drive

If you’re up for a road trip, plenty of scenic drives around Queenstown offer breathtaking views and picturesque stops. Remember to check road conditions and weather forecasts before starting, especially during winter.


What is the best time to visit Queenstown in winter?

The best time to visit Queenstown in winter is during the winter months of June to August. This is when you’ll experience the most snowfall, making it the perfect time for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities.

What are some cheap things to do in Queenstown in winter?

Some budget-friendly activities in Queenstown include exploring Queenstown Gardens, taking a scenic walk along the Ben Lomond Track, or enjoying a hot chocolate in one of the many cozy cafes around town.

How can I experience the adventure capital of New Zealand on a budget?

Many of the activities in Queenstown can be pricey, but there are still plenty of affordable options for thrill-seekers. Try jet boats, ziplining, or bungee jumping with a company like AJ Hackett Bungy, which offers discounted rates for students and group bookings.

What are the best places to stay in Queenstown during winter?

There are a variety of accommodations available in Queenstown, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels. Staying in central Queenstown or nearby areas like Arthur’s Point and Cardrona Alpine Resort will give you easy access to many activities and attractions.

How can I stay safe while participating in outdoor activities during winter in Queenstown?

To stay safe during your winter adventures in Queenstown, dress appropriately for the weather conditions, follow any safety guidelines provided by tour operators, and always let someone know your plans before venturing out.


Queenstown is a winter paradise with endless things to do and see. From skiing on world-class slopes to sipping wine in a picturesque valley, there’s something for everyone in this adventure capital of the world. Don’t

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *