Queenstown and winter—name a more dynamic duo. This perfect pairing is packed with our fave winter pastimes; crisp, adventurous days followed by cosy fireside cocktails.
It's no surprise Queenstown is our go-to for a lush winter escape, and 2022 is shaping up to be no different. This is the place to be; expect a stacked calendar of events and festivals and a slew of tasty new openings to discover.
Pack your puffer jacket and scarf—here's why you need to book a blissful escape to this Southern winter wonderland.
Fill Your Calandar With Events
Queenstown slays when it comes to a calendar of high-energy events. This winter is no different, with a slew of extreme sports, music gigs and epic festivals.
Buckingham Street is set to light up this June with the Matariki Arrowtown Lights‚ a three-day celebration of the new public holiday and new year.
To kick-off the snowy season this July, Welcome To Winter is set to take over the town with a packed four days of live music, markets and fireworks.
Coronet Peak is marking 75 years in the biz with a week of good times this August. You'll find a night ski party featuring Kiwi legends Katchafire, a champagne brunch at Heidi's Hut, retro ski day, the iconic Dog Derby and plenty more on the line-up.
The festival vibes are also coming in strong this season, with the largest Winter Pride Festival in the Southern Hemisphere dropping this August. Add the Snow Machine Festival in September to the list, and we might just have to move down south for the whole ski season.
Get Among Après-Ski After Dark
Queenstown's nightlife is second to none. From indulgent restaurants to cosy bars, we guarantee something will hit the spot after a day on the slopes.
It's almost impossible to narrow down the dining list, so start by perusing our round-up of the best restaurants in Queenstown. For rustic fireside Italian vibes, settle in at The Cow—carb-loading awaits. On the flip side, you'll find vibrant Mexican food (and margs!) at Margo's, or premium seafood and steaks at Boardwalk.
This extensive list of Queenstown's best bars does not disappoint on the cocktail front. Special shout-outs go to The Bunker and Bardeaux for their moody, speakeasy atmosphere. Perky's (a floating bar) serves a banging mulled wine if you are after something out of the ordinary. In contrast, the new Ice Bar in Upper Village takes the idea of a frozen margarita to a whole new level.
Seek Out Alternative Snow Experiences
If you thought the only way to hit the slopes was with skis strapped to your feet—think again. Whether you're new to a winter holiday or looking to shake things up, there are plenty of ways to get among the snowy magic in Queenstown.
Discover the Garvie Plateau with Queenstown Snowmobiles—which includes New Zealand's only heli-snowmobiling experience. Or, take on the mountain with the latest winter trend, Yoonering. Slide down the slopes on one of these ingenious contraptions over at Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Cardrona.
If your Queenstown trip involves the whole fam, you'll find a line-up of activities for the entire crew. Opt for a chilled out tobogganing session if you're heading up the mountain, or admire the snow-capped peaks from afar with a scenic cruise across Lake Whakatipu.
Sample Fresh New Openings
There's no shortage of tasty haunts in Queenstown—in fact, there are more than 150 to eat your way through. Home to an abundance of dreamy wineries, the infamous Fergburger and decadent local dining destinations, it's the stuff of foodie dreams.
It's fair to say we're more than a bit excited about some of the scrumptious new openings to discover this winter. Broken Heart Spirits has just opened the doors to the town's first boutique gin garden at the bottom of Coronet Peak, so a tipple (or three) of locally-distilled beverages is our first stop. Gin-lovers should also jump on the world's first gin tour by helicopter—a full-day excursion packed with jaw-dropping sights and cellar door visits.
Better yet, Chef Ben Bayly has just opened Little Aosta—a delicious spinoff to popular fine-dining favourite. Blending the flavours of Northern Italy with Southern New Zealand ingredients, the menu is designed to share, boasting woodfired pizzeta, pasta and even a spritz bar.
Or, pop into the highly-anticipated Upper Village, a haven of dining faves tucked away at the base of Bob's Peak Mountain. From the Ice Bar to Tex Mex and a German-inspired 'beer hall,' you can't go wrong. Whether you're sipping on margaritas at El Camino Cantina or digging into schnitzels at The Bavarian, be sure to top off your night with an escape room adventure at Kingpin.
It's officially that time of year; stave off the winter blues by booking an enchanting escape to the snow capital of New Zealand—Queenstown is ready and waiting.
Image credit: Supplied, Altitude Tours via Instagram