The best time to visit Queenstown in New Zealand
When is the best time to visit Queenstown? Why, NOW of course! Winter is the perfect season to gear up and head down to New Zealand’s South Island for outdoor adventures galore. This lakeside city is a veritable playground for both locals and tourists, and there is certainly something there for everybody. Don’t wait another minute before you book a holiday to the Gateway to the fiordlands, ski hills, glaciers and vineyards that are awaiting you in Queenstown.
Getting Here and Navigating the City
It’s simple enough to fly directly into Queenstown – the airport is a quick taxi or car ride away from the city centre. There are daily direct flights from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, and all of these are well under two hours of flying time. Driving in is always a fun option, and the water lovers in the group might prefer to take a ferry.
Because the city and all its activities are quite spread out, your best bet may be to rent a car during your stay, and there are a bunch of companies operating right at the airport. If you’re feeling more eco-conscious or adventurous, you can opt for the myriad public transportation choices as well as the countless cabs in the area. Queenstown has public buses, shuttles to and from the airport, various other track shuttles throughout the area, and even bicycles for rent. The choice is yours!
First Things First
Orient yourself in town by finding beautiful Lake Wakatipu, the blue jewel of the area that sits in front of a backdrop of glorious mountain peaks. The Maori called this lake “the hollow of the giant” from old legends about a sleeping giant in the surrounding mountains and hillsides. Be sure to carve out time to post up and experience a sunrise or a sunset while looking over these mystical waters. You can view it from many eateries and accommodations in town or get up close and personal by walking around the lake on one of the many paths that the city has created over the years.
Choose Your Own Adventures
There are so many exciting activities happening in Queenstown on any given day. Do you prefer to get some exercise in with your adrenaline rush, or would you prefer to sit and let yourself be whisked away somehow? Check out some of your choices:
Queenstown and the surrounding area has arguably some of the best skiing in the Southern Hemisphere. Visit Cardrona, home of various terrain parks and killer halfpipes. Check out Coronet Peak, the only place to offer night skiing along with a hip and funky vibe. Or swish down The Remarkables Ski Field which is perfect for beginners and advanced skiers alike with its range of runs.
- Bungy Jumping
There are several epic bungy options here, and you simply have to decide what amazing backdrop you’d like to see while you free fall. The Nevis Bungy is the highest in all of New Zealand and is always a fantastic option if you fancy gorgeous canyons. You could also opt to drop from the downtown Gondola perch setting you up for an unforgettable city skyline view.
Speaking of the Queenstown Skyline Gondola, you don’t have to jump off of it bungy-style to experience it. You can just ride it! Take it up to the top for some amazing views of the city, the lake and the mountains beyond. Then, either hop back on for a return journey back to sea level, or you can take a slide or glider back down. Super slick!
While the city is famed for various festivals held throughout the year, there are two coming up this winter that are sure to entice you to visit. It’s all about recognizing and cherishing all the special things that this season has to offer us!
- Queenstown Winter Festival
This weekend fest is a kickoff to the entire season, complete with Matariki torchlight hikoi. Sip flavorful mulled wine while participating in a slate of scheduled activities across the city like jamming to live music and mountain snow biking.
- Winter Pride Festival
A longer celebration of diversity takes place in August, complete with booths and booths of vendors, parades and displays of pride, and delicious treats for foodies. Nightlife abounds, so get ready – party doesn’t stop when the sun goes down.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Not every minute has to be crammed full of adventure when you come to Queenstown. Pencil in some time to peruse the local restaurant and pub options throughout the city streets, and treat yourself to some delicious spreads. Some special places to look out for are:
- Fogo Brazilian BBQ Experience
It might sound bananas to come to New Zealand in order to eat Brazilian food, but this place is off the charts and wonderfully authentic. You are guaranteed to have a colourful, delicious evening.
This iconic (and crazy popular!) burger joint has a line out the door practically all the time, but it is definitely worth any wait you may encounter. The secret is their delicious homemade buns and MASSIVE juicy patties – trust us, the resulting burgers will get rave reviews.
- Margo’s Queenstown
Another top-rated restaurant in town is this Mexican marvel with a bit of a fusion flair. Think classic Mexican food with a twist, packed with flavor and with a side of great happy hour specials.
- Patagonia Chocolates
For those with a sweet tooth, cap off the evening with some of these incredible homemade chocolates, coffee drinks and cocoas, or try a scoop or two of one of Patagonia’s award-winning sorbets and ice creams.
The Wineries of Gibbston
If you want to venture out of the city a bit, visit the valleys just 30 minutes away that are home to some amazing wineries and vineyards. There are all sorts of tastings available, and each venue will keep you nice and snug as you visit – tucked away from the elements in their private tasting rooms to sample flights of potent potables.
Hiking Trails Galore
There are ample walking tours available in the city centre, either with a group or on your own via an audio app. This can be a great way to see the town and get your steps in! However, if you prefer a bit of nature with your strolling, check into the numerous hiking trails in the surrounding foothills or around the lake. Queenstown also has countless public parks and a botanical garden park that could be ideal for a nice walk.
Come See For Yourself!
It’s time to look forward to holiday-ing once again, and winter is right around the corner. Without a doubt, the best time to visit Queenstown is this upcoming season! Come to the South Island and spend some time celebrating all things snowy and cozy.