Queenstown is New Zealand’s winter hotspot with a wonderful alpine landscape to be admired by all those who visit. Skiing and snowboarding aren’t for everyone though and if you are searching for things to do off the slopes, you are in luck. In no particular order, here are 10 things to do in Queenstown during winter that aren’t skiing as recommended by Experience Oz.
1. Skyline Gondola and Luge
Soaring high above Queenstown, jump on the Skyline Gondola for a scenic ride to the top of Bob’s Peak and be treated to the most breathtaking views of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu. As the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere, passengers will travel 450 metres above Queenstown giving a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘head in the clouds’.
Explore the alpine scenery from a different perspective when you jump in the driver’s seat and race your mates down on the Skyline Luge or sit down for an indulgent lunch overlooking the snow dusted peaks of Queenstown.
2. Onsen Hot Pools
There is no better time for relaxation and pampering than while on holiday. The Onsen Hot Pools in Queenstown promise a hot and steamy experience on snowy, winter days with the pools heated up to 39.8C. Nestled in the mountains, each private pool perched over the Shotover River can accommodate up to 4 people. And with just a touch of a button, the indoor pools can become outdoor with a retractable window and roof bringing you much closer to the natural landscape.
This is the ultimate relaxation experience with a massage facility available onsite but a word of warning… it is very hard to get a reservation here so we suggest booking 2-3 months in advance.
3. NZone Skydive Queenstown
Queenstown is said to be the ‘birthplace of tandem skydiving’ and the adventure capital of the world so why not take the ultimate plunge with NZONE Skydive Queenstown. Thrill seekers can choose from a 9,000 feet, 12,000 feet or 15,000 feet skydive with a maximum free fall of 60 seconds. Our advice though is that if you are going to jump out of aeroplane you might as well make the most of the opportunity and experience the maximum free fall at 15, 000 ft.
Skydiving is the pinnacle of extreme adrenaline activities and you’ll reach speeds of 200 kilometres per hour as you plummet back down to earth. If that doesn’t take your breath away then the panoramic views of Queenstown’s alpines and glaciers will. Voyagers wanting to experience the sensation of flying over beautiful landscapes must book a Queenstown skydive.
4. Shotover Jet Boat Rides
One of New Zealand’s must do experiences, The Shotover Jet, is based in Queenstown. The jet boat ride is possibly the most exhilarating 25 minutes of your life that you could have zipping and sliding through the canyons in shallow waters that are at times only 10cm deep at 85km/hr. Power brakes, fishtails and 360 degree spins are what you can expect racing through the Shotover River. 25 minutes will fly by oh so quickly and you’ll be left wanting more.
Queenstown jet boat rides are available all year round (weather conditions permitting) between 9 am and 4 pm.
5. Ziptrek Eco Tours
Ziplining is becoming a popular holiday activity mostly because it is suitable for almost everyone. Different from treetop adventures or high ropes courses, zipline tours lead you on a journey through the forest canopy with very little effort required at all. The laws of gravity and a little bit of courage from you is all that is needed to fly through the forest canopies high above Queenstown. Those who accept the challenge will be rewarded with beautiful scenery because as the picture above shows, Queenstown is a picturesque place to zipline.
If you haven’t realised already, the activities in Queenstown are all focused around the city’s natural assets. Ziptrek Eco Tours have three different courses including the world’s steepest zipline that will guide you through the forest with glimpses of alpine scenery and they run all year round- snowfall and all.
6. TSS Earnslaw
The scenery is the reason that people are drawn to Queenstown so you wouldn’t want to miss out on enjoying it. Get lost in the beauty of the region during a scenic cruise along Lake Wakatipu on ‘TSS Earnslaw’. The vintage steamship takes passengers on a journey back to the early 1900’s and is a living piece of history. While onboard you can explore the decks, engine room and museum with historical photos on display.
Passenger can choose to make the excursion a half day or a full day out with a stop at Walter Peak for a horse trek, farm tour or bbq lunch. The historic ship is a reminder of times gone by and has even played host to Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip and Bill Clinton.
7. Bungy Jump or Nevis Swing
There is nothing more challenging than stepping up to the ledge and pushing the fears aside with complete reliance on the bungy jump or swing yet thousands of people line up to do it each year. AJ Hackett has three locations in Queenstown and a fourth in Auckland all with spectacular views as you fly through the air.
It is an incredible feeling and one of the most memorable experiences of your life. Take a ride on ‘Nevis’ Swing, the largest in the world or leap from a bridge on a Queenstown Bungy Jump all throughout winter.
8. Join a winery or craft brewery tour
Taste your way through Queenstown and nearby Marlborough on an alpine winery or guided craft beer tours. New Zealand is famously known for it’s wine but for those partial to a beer instead won’t be disappointed either. Coupled with a cheese tasting or antipasto platter and alpine scenery, a Queenstown winery or craft brewery tour is an indulgent way to spend an afternoon or evening. With a glass in hand and the most picturesque backdrop imaginable, the photos you post on social media will have all the family and friends back home experiencing travel envy.
9. Scenic Helicopter Flight with Glacier Landing
The helicopter flight alone makes this experience priceless but the chance to land on a glacier is even more extraordinary. We love this experience because it gives all visitors the chance to experience the snow conditions without having to ski or snowboard down one of the almighty peaks.
Standing atop of a glacier in Mount Aspiring National Park, you’ll have the chance to step foot on ancient glaciers formed over thousands of years. This is one of those ‘pinch yourself’ moments with 360 degree views of the Southern Alps that will leave a lasting impression in your mind and heart long after the 35 minute flight ends.
10. Day Trip to Milford or Doubtful Sound
The South Island has some of the most visually stunning environments and pristine wilderness areas. It would be a mistake to go to Queenstown without visiting Milford or Doubtful sound in the heart of Fiordland. The word breathtaking gets thrown around a lot but it is hard to put into words just how beautiful this part of the world is. A visit to the Milford or Doubtful Sound is so peaceful and abundant with wildlife that visiting it is almost a spiritual experience and one that you’ll always remember.
If the snowfall is not up to par or you are simply more of land lover than a ski bunny these must do Queenstown activities will enrich your stay in town off the slopes.
For more information on these top Queenstown experiences and more ideas be sure to click through to our main experiences page below where you can browse and book all your Queenstown adventures.