Taxis are a quick and reliable way of getting to those hidden places outside the city centre. You can find taxis all over the city either lined up at designated ranks or waiting for you to hail them on the street. During the ski season, special shuttle buses operate throughout the day to take skiers and snowboarders to the main skiing fields.
The public transport system in Queenstown is bus-centric. You will easily spot the red Connectabuses running around town. They travel from the airport to Queenstown centre and Frankton to Arthur's Point – some even travelling as far as Arrowtown. An all-day pass is NZD$17 and lets you hop on and off at all the main sites.
Queenstown's city centre is relatively small and many of its attractions are within walking distance. However, being in moutainous territory there are lots of steep hills outside of the flat CBD. Be sure to take comfortable walking shoes – hiking boots if you have them – and be prepared for a small trek if you are going further afield.
In an area with some of the world's most magnificent scenic routes and landscapes, driving around Queenstown is an unforgettable experience in itself. Car hire will give you the freedom to roam wherever you please. Parking in the CBD can be tricky because of its size, but there are special zones costing up to NZD$2 an hour.
Ski fields have surrounded Queenstown for decades, but it has more recently expanded into the adventure sports capital of the world. With so much to do it pulls crowds across all seasons. In winter the town looks exquisite under snow cover, while in summer Lake Wakatipu shines bright blue and is spectacular alongside green mountain ranges. Our advice? Go twice!
Queenstown is a popular destination that draws visitors from all over the world at all times of the year. There are few downtimes in tourism, so don't leave booking your accommodation to the last minute, especially if you have a particular hotel in mind. New Year's Eve is particularly crowded, so secure your accommodation well in advance.
Pack plenty of fleeces, scarves and gloves in winter – the temperatures can rapidly drop to freezing as the sun disappears at around 5pm. Queenstown is well equipped for skiing, with plenty of ski shops around the town centre. Take advantage of them if you find yourself in need of some winter warmers to protect against the icy temperatures and cool winds.
With adventure sports being one of the country's main attractions, New Zealand is well prepared for tourist accidents. The Accident Compensation Corporation scheme offers everyone in New Zealand 24/7 no-fault comprehensive injury insurance. Even tourists are covered, no matter how the injury happened. You can find more information about the ACC and tourist coverage on their website.
The easiest internal flights to Queenstown are from Wellington and Auckland onboard Jetstar. Flights depart throughout the day and arrive in just under two hours.
The Super Shuttle is a convenient way to get from the airport to your door, with a van available for every flight. A cheaper option is a shared ride with other passengers, or you can hire a van exclusively. All shuttles come equipped with trailers for excess luggage, which the driver will help pack securely for the journey into town. Book ahead online, or by phone when you land.
There are a few shuttle buses specialising in ski field transfers. The Snag Bus Snow Shuttle has vans ranging in size and you'll get picked up from your front door. For a nine-person van it's NZD$260 return to Coronet Peak, which is 20 minutes away, NZD$300 return to The Remarkables, which is 40 minutes away and NZD$475 return to Cardrona which is an hour away.
You have a choice of nine rental operators including Budget and Avis at Queenstown airport. The winding route into town is easy to navigate as there is just one main road. Traffic is a breeze and most accommodation comes with parking. Car rental is a good idea, especially if you want to explore the stunning scenery around the lake, which is highly recommended.
Connectabus runs services from Queenstown Airport to Queenstown stopping at multiple destinations en route. This may be the cheapest transfer option but it won't take you to your door. If you're carrying lots of luggage, this could prove tricky with the town's hills. Buses depart every fifteen minutes and a one-way ticket is NZD$6 per adult.
The Remarkables is one of Queenstown's most famous ski fields, just 40 minutes from the town centre. Pay NZD$95 per adult for a one-day pass and wind or race your way down exhilarating snow tracks. The relaxed resort caters for all ages and abilities and kids under 10 can ski for free. If you prefer something different, go snow tubing in the purpose-build park instead!
Experience the tranquility of snowy plateaus by foot using special snowshoes. A guide will lead you through the beautiful alpine ranges on a half-day, full day or even overnight nature walk where you'll get to experience breathtaking views in total serenity. Make your own tracks, stop for hot cups of tea and learn about the fascinating geography of the area.
Spend an extraordinary evening skiing under the moonlight at Coronet Peak ski field. The slopes stay open on Friday and Saturday until 9pm. With the snow dazzling under the track lights and the stars sparkling above, this is a truly memorable experience. Warm up with a mulled wine or hot chocolate at the bar afterwards, which also stays open late.
Take an exhilarating helicopter ride over the Southern Alps, marveling at the scale of the mountains beneath. Get dropped off at the top and you'll find there's only one way out! Glide over the virgin snow at a thrilling pace all the way to the bottom on skis or snowboard. Then start all over again! Harris Mountain Heli-Ski prices start at NZD$795 per person
For the tastiest burgers in town head to Fergburger, a legend on the Queenstown food scene. A fun, lively atmosphere surrounds their huge and deliciously juicy hamburgers – all at affordable prices. The comedy menu has some successful combinations, like the Bun Laden (falafel) and the Sweet Bambi (deer). You'll probably have to queue but it's definitely worth the wait.
Wooden floors, fireplaces and a stunning view of The Remarkables make this seafood specialty restaurant an après-ski favourite. The signature oysters are served warm, baked or battered, or you could opt for a hearty New Zealand lamb dish. This is locally-produced fine dining with absolute waterfront and mountain views. Mark your skiing adventure with a taste of Wai.
A smart restaurant in the five-star St Moritz hotel with sweeping lake views and a cosy log fire, perfect for getting toasty after a day on the slopes. The menu is varied and unpretentious and the quality of the food is superb. Enjoy traditional, warming meals like rabbit pie, chicken liver pate and slow cooked beef. The lamb shanks are also superb and perfectly accompanied by a locally produced Pinot Noir.
A hugely popular and relaxed venue for après-ski, serving up amazing gourmet pizzas to diners huddled in wood-clad booths. You'll feel like you're in a remote log cabin with the fire blazing nearby. Later on, this place comes alive with a party atmosphere, blasting fast tunes and an open top roof where you can shimmy under the stars.
A stylish bar on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and a new addition to the Queenstown night scene. Sip on cocktails in the glass-encased lounge overlooking the lake and mountains. The interior is white leather and soft lighting, with a cool, classy vibe. It's warm during ski season and the outdoor patio comes alive in summer.
Nestled down a quiet alleyway, this tiny nook of a bar and restaurant wants to be neither seen nor heard by the masses. Soft leather armchairs, a roaring open log fire and old pictures hanging on the walls – you'll feel like you're in a private Swiss ski chalet.
After a day rushing down the icy slopes, head to Onsen Hot Pools, an indulgent private spa retreat where you can wallow in blissfully warm water. The roofs retract to reveal spectacular alpine views and fresh mountain air. By moonlight and with a glass of champagne, it's spellbinding and a perfect way to relax your muscles.
This cosy chalet lies in the heart of the surrounding ski fields, offering stunning mountain views, open fires and traditional home-cooked meals. The bar staff are friendly and the atmosphere unpretentious. Warm up next to the enormous stone fireplace and share your ski tales from the day over hot chocolates, pie and mash.
Dive feet first into your ski trip at The Remarkables, forty minutes from Queenstown centre by snow shuttle. Start off on some gentler terrain and ease into the day. Before long you'll be soaring down the slopes at exhilarating speeds. Stop for a break around lunch at the resort cafe to refuel, before getting back onto the powder in a snow tube and whizzing down the man-made lanes. That evening, head to Wai Waterfront to indulge in some oysters and champagne. You'll see the fields from a different angle in all their brilliant splendour.
Today you'll be soaring through the air as well as down the slopes. Take a helicopter over exquisite Southern Alps ranges before being dropped on a mountain peak. Next thing you know you're flying down the mountain on skis, roaring across fresh powder. After such a thrilling few days you'll need to give your body some well-deserved time off, and the best place to do this is Onsen Hot Pools. Soak your muscles in a bubbling hot bath, gazing at the stars above as you bathe in moonlit mountain surroundings.
Give your ski legs a rest today, but not your feet. Spend the day and night exploring the stunning mountain ranges by way of the snowshoe! On your overnight guided tour you'll learn all about this magnificent region at a leisurely walking pace, stopping for cups of tea along the way and drawing in some fresh alpine air. That night you'll huddle around a log fire and feast of warming camp food. This experience is totally unique, spectacular and the sight of the sunrise over the mountaintops is absolute bliss.
Today, head over to exciting Coronet Peak, just 20 minutes' drive from the town centre. Most of this terrain is for thrill-seekers, not the faint-hearted. Speed left, right, up and around this rollercoaster of a field that has world-class facilities to suit a seasoned skier. For those that aren't as confident, there are some dedicated learner fields as well. If you're there on a Friday or Saturday, stay until 9pm to experience skiing by night, where the paths are lit up and the ski fields look magical.
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