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35 EPIC Things to do in Queenstown in Winter (2024 Guide!)

35 EPIC Things to do in Queenstown in Winter (2024 Guide!)

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Are you thinking of visiting Queenstown, but want to avoid the busy summer crowds? Well, I’m happy to say that there’s a ton of epic things to do here in winter too.

Take it from a local when she says that winter in Queenstown is actually amazing! Despite the cold, I love the snow-capped mountains, the lack of people on hiking trails, and the winter prices. If you’re looking to travel New Zealand on a budget, then winter is easily one of the easiest seasons to do so.

Of course, it’s best to be armed with as much info as you can be before you visit, from what temperatures to expect, to how to stay safe, and what things to do while you’re here! I hope that after reading this blog, you’ll be convinced that winter is the best time of year to visit beautiful Queenstown.

Queenstown in Winter FAQs

Climbing high at The Remarkables Ski Field
Me and my partner at the top of the Remarkables Ski Field!

Winter Weather in Queenstown

Bailey stands in the snow on the Ben Lomond Track just before the saddle
Winter is a good time to go hiking if you can handle the cold and snow!

During winter, Queenstown’s weather can vary quite a lot. One day it’ll be sunny, and you’ll be walking around in a light sweater, and then the next you’ll be bundled up in full winter gear and still be cold! It’s best to be prepared for anything (yes, it will even rain in the winter in Queenstown).

It’s also important to remember that it is always considerably warmer in Queenstown than up on the mountains or ski fields. Don’t be fooled if you’re warm while walking to grab breakfast before a day up at the hill, it will be much colder when you get up there!

It also doesn’t snow that much in Queenstown itself, and if you want to see snow during the winter months in Queenstown, you’ll likely have to drive up to a higher elevation (top of the Crown Range Road or at The Remarkables ski field are your best bets).

Temperatures in Queenstown during the winter can get as low as -6 degrees Celsius (21.2 Fahrenheit) but average lows are 0 Celsius (32 Fahrenheit). On a sunny day, you can also get days as warm as 15 degrees Celsius (59 Fahrenheit), however, the average high in winter is 9 Celsius (48.2 Fahrenheit).

Expect temperatures on the mountains to be around 10 degrees cooler than in Queenstown itself. In fact, on average you can expect the ski fields to sit at around -4 degrees Celsius (25 Fahrenheit) during the winter, with the coldest temperatures of -10 (14 Fahrenheit) and the highest of +2 C (36 F) during the day.

35 Things to do in Queenstown in Winter

1. Hit the slopes

Skiing at cardrona Ski Field near Queenstown
Skiing at Cardrona!

The number one thing to do in Queenstown in winter is to hit the slopes. It’s the main reason most people come to Queenstown in the winter, and to be honest, I don’t blame them. Skiing and snowboarding are so much fun and if you’re coming from places like Australia, it’s likely the only place to go nearby with decent snow.

With that said, don’t expect North American or European ski hills, they’re much smaller in New Zealand!

There are three ski hills close to Queenstown called The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, and Cardrona. The two I personally love are The Remarkables and Cardrona – with Cardrona being my absolute top pick! Although Coronet Peak is a good ski field, the snow is often really hard due to its location.

The ski season in Queenstown typically runs from mid-June to early October. The expected opening dates for the ski fields near Queenstown are:

  • Coronet Peak – June 14 – September 22, 2024
  • The Remarkables – June 15 – October 14, 2024
  • Cardrona – June 15 – October 13, 2024

Even if you’ve never skied or snowboarded before you can learn in Queenstown (that’s what I did!). Join a group lesson or two and you’ll be well on your way to hitting the green or blue runs before you know it!

Regardless of whether you’re a pro or just learning, hit the slopes this winter in Queenstown and we may even bump into each other (hopefully not too hard)!

Related Read: For more info, read my blog all about skiing in Queenstown! If you prefer to base yourself in Wanaka, you can read about skiing in Wanaka.

2. Cruise Lake Wakatipu

Standing at the front of the boat on a Lake Wakatipu cruise
Those views though!!!

Going on a cruise is one of the best things to do here at any time of the year. From Lake Wakatipu, you’ll get to enjoy magnificent views of the mountains around you and see it all from a whole new perspective. In the winter, the mountains are covered in snow which makes them even more beautiful if you ask me.

There are a few cruise companies in Queenstown to choose from but all of them more or less take the same route on the lake with the main difference being price and transport style. The Million Dollar Cruise is the cheapest option with a 1.5-hour cruise starting at only $59 NZD.

Explore the lake in a heated cabin, with commentary from your captain and food and drinks available for purchase onboard. You’ll catch incredible views no matter where you’re sitting, so this is a good way to see Queenstown’s beauty even on a cold winter’s day! I recommend booking your spot in advance, as this is a popular cruise option.

The second is the TSS Earnslaw. This 1930s steamship is powered by coal, and onboard you can visit the engine room to see coal being shoveled into the boilers. It’s a larger vessel with more charm, but the cruise does cost significantly more starting at $99 NZD for a 1.5-hour cruise.

The TSS Earnslaw also has other tour options that can include a Walter Peak Farm tour or even a gourmet lunch at the farm. This is a great way to experience more of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding areas. Plus, the only way to get to Walter Peak Farm (without driving for over 5 hours) is by taking a boat across the lake, so it’s a good two-for-one activity. The farm tour includes afternoon tea and is a 3.5-hour experience for $145 NZD- not too much more than just a cruise!

However, if you have extra time and room in the budget, I recommend the gourmet lunch at the farm! Not only do you get to enjoy the historic TSS Earnslaw cruise, but you’ll also get to tour the farm, and have a seriously delicious lunch. It truly is worth $175 NZD for this whole experience, but you’ll want to book it in advance because it is a highly demanded activity. If you’re traveling with kids, I definitely recommend visiting Walter Peak Farm!

Related Read: If you still can’t decide, then check out our guide to picking the best lake cruise in Queenstown!

3. Jet boating

Bailey from My Queenstown Diary jet boating in Queenstown
As you can tell, I was having a ton of fun!

Jet boating is likely one of the most popular adventure activities town. Not only is it a ton of fun, but it is an affordable and exciting way to get out on the water to soak in unique vantage points.

From inside a speed boat, you’ll race around rivers and lakes stopping only inches from the shoreline or rocks. Your driver will execute 360-degree spins with speeds up to 90 kph (56 mph)! You’ll scream and laugh the entire time, I guarantee it.

You might think jet boating sounds, well, cold in the winter. I’m not going to lie to you, the water is cold. However, they do give you a full splash-proof suit which will keep the cold water off your skin and clothes. The only thing I’d suggest if you’re going jet boating in Queenstown in the winter is to bring gloves and a beanie. These items aren’t usually provided by the tour company and you’re going to need them to stay warm.

Hot tip – if you need to purchase some cold-weather gear in Queenstown, head to the Salvation Army either right in town or the one on Gorge Road. Here, you’ll be able to pick up everything you need for only a few dollars!

There are a couple of different jetboat operators in Queenstown:

Real NZ Jet – This is the other company that operates from the Queenstown Wharf. I’ve done a lot of tours with Real NZ and it’s the cheapest in Queenstown with 25-minute boat rides during the winter (and 1-hour rides in the summer). But honestly, 25 minutes is perfect in the winter, as you get the thrill and can get inside and get warm! You can reserve your 25-minute jet boat ride with Real NZ Jet here.

K-Jet – This is who I did my jet boating ride with. They leave from the wharf in Queenstown and the tour lasts for 1 hour. It was really fun and I can personally recommend this tour. It is good value for money and one of the cheapest options when it comes to jet boat tours in Queenstown. Check departure times and book your K-Jet tour in advance so you don’t miss out!

Shotover Jet – These guys operate in the Shotover Canyon on the Shotover River and they are the most famous company in Queenstown. Many claim this tour to be more thrilling than those that depart on Lake Wakatipu. Plus, the Shotover River is stunning! They offer 25-minute boat rides and can include transport from your Queenstown accommodation. There are over 1,400 5-star reviews, so you can expect good things from these guys- see for yourself here!

Skippers Canyon Jet – This is another company operating in the Shotover River, however, their tour is in Skipper Canyon. This canyon is said to be narrower so the ride is supposed to be really scary! If you are looking for a seriously thrilling jet-boat experience, Skippers Canyon might be your top choice. I’d recommend reading the full details before you book this one, all the information is available here.

4. Go stargazing

The milky way near Queenstown New Zealand
The Milky Way on the road between Queenstown and Glenorchy

If you’re looking for something free to do, then you can’t miss out on stargazing. During winter, the Milky Way shines bright above Queenstown. However, if you really want to see the stars (like in the picture above) you’re going to need to take a short drive out of town.

My favorite places to go are Moke Lake and on the highway between Queenstown and Glenorchy. From both places, the stars are unreal! Also, check the daily Southern Lights (aka Aurora Australis) radar to catch a glimpse of the most spectacular light show in the world.

If seeing the stars on your own isn’t enough, you can actually join stargazing tours in Queenstown where you’ll get to look through a high-powered telescope and spot planets, the international space station, and more.

Related Read: If you really want to see the stars then you need to drive from Queenstown to Lake Tekapo. Lake Tekapo is located within a Dark Sky Reserve, and stargazing from the local observatory is one of the best things to do there.

5. Take a day trip to Milford Sound

Bailey sits on the Milford Sound Swing in Milford Sound
The Milford Sound Swing!

Milford Sound is best explored in the winter months. Don’t get me wrong, I love the warm sunsets in the summer on the Milford Sound foreshore, but seriously, the place is so overcrowded! During the winter, Milford is quiet and much more peaceful, cruises are cheaper, the famous Miter Peak is dipped in snow, and fewer boats sail the fiord making it my favorite time to visit!

Coach and cruise tour (most affordable)

From Queenstown, you can jump on a range of day tours to Milford but the cheapest are the coach and cruise tours like this small-group experience that includes your cruise, transport, and a small packed lunch.

On these tours, half of the adventure is getting to Milford Sound and your tour will stop at some amazing places en route. These tours usually take 12.5 hours because Milford Sound is 4 hours from Queenstown by road!

Coach, cruise, and flight tour (best for adventure)

But, if I’m being honest the best way to experience Milford Sound in one day is to try a tour that also includes a scenic flight, because it saves a lot of time and lets you experience the fiord in three distinct ways.

On this full-day Milford Sound tour, you’ll drive to Milford from Queenstown to enjoy the many must-see stops along the way, then cruise along the fiord on a 2-hour cruise, finally you’ll fly back to Queenstown in a quick 40-minute flight, which gives incredible views from above!

While this is more expensive than a coach tour from Queenstown, if it’s within your budget it’s a great way to experience Milford, you can book this tour for $725 NZD.

Or if you’re short on time, or simply don’t want to sit on a bus for 4 hours, you can take a flight both ways! Somehow this tour is cheaper than the option above, and you get two scenic flights, plus a cruise on Milford Sound. It allows you to see Milford in a quick 5-hour tour, to make the most out of your South Island itinerary! This flight tour to Milford can be reserved in advance for $642 NZD.

Rent a car (best flexible option)

Last, is the option to rent a car in Queenstown (I use Discover Cars to find the best deal) and drive yourself. This is my top choice and I highly recommend spending the night in Te Anau or in Milford Sound at the Milford Sound Lodge so you can properly explore the road to Milford Sound. It’s one of the most incredible road trips in New Zealand that’s best done without a tour!

6. Ride the gondola up to Bob’s Peak

Views from Skyline in Queenstown on a winter day with views of the Remarkables Mountain Range and Lake Wakatipu
I never get sick of this iconic view!

Taking the gondola up to Bob’s Peak is one of the most iconic activities in Queenstown. Of course, it’s one you can do any time of the year, but in winter, those mountain views are just so much more spectacular!

The gondola up to Bob’s Peak costs $52 NZD for adults and $36 for kids. Although not cheap, there are a few bundle options that make it less expensive for the whole family or if you want to tack on any activities at the top. And you’ll want to, trust me!

The Skyline is famous for the Luge, which is a thrill no matter what age you are! You can also enjoy dinner or drinks at the Stratosfare Restaurant, which is one of the top restaurants in Queenstown. But if you’re looking for a truly epic experience at the top of Bob’s Peak, you can go paragliding to soar over those snow-capped mountains! A tandem paraglide is $320 for about an hour and a half experience in total.

If you do want to enjoy the view from Bob’s Peak on a budget, you can always hike the Tiki Trail to the top!

Taking the gondola is just your means of transport and the best part about Bob’s Peak is the views over Queenstown from the top. So no matter what your budget is, make sure you go and enjoy those snow-dipped mountain peaks that you can only see in winter in Queenstown!

Related Read: You can also easily hike the Ben Lomond Track from Bob’s Peak. For more info, check out my guide to the hike.

7. Visit a local brewery

A group of poeple play cards at the Searchlight Brewery in Queenstown
Playing cards at Searchlight!

Winter in Queenstown isn’t all about the outdoors. As a local, I love heading inside to cozy up by the fire – and what better way to do it than with a craft beer from a local brewery?

There is one brewery, in particular, that’s perfect for this and that’s Searchlight Brewery. It’s located a little out of town just off Gorge Road but the cute little brewery has a fireplace and some of the best craft beer in New Zealand.

There are a few other breweries in Queenstown including Altitude Brewery located along the edge of Lake Wakatipu in Frankton. They also have a fireplace perfect for cozy nights. The last brewery in town is Canyon Brewing. They’re the largest in town but they have the most beautiful location and the largest indoor dining area.

Although if you’re a beer enthusiast like I am, you’ll love taking a craft beer tour in Queenstown! The craft beer scene is booming in Queenstown, so this tour takes you to 4-5 of the best up-and-coming breweries. You’ll have 13 beer tastings, brewery tours, and you might get lucky and get to talk to the brewmaster themselves like I did! All your beer tastings, lunch, and transportation are included in this tour for $185 NZD- book this tour in advance here!

And if you’re a wine lover, you can join this wine and beer tour that gives you the choice between hops or grapes! Queenstown is plentiful in wine, just like beer, so you won’t go thirsty here.

8. Go on a winter hike

Standing on the Ben Lomond saddle , Queenstown
Standing high above Queenstown!

Hiking isn’t just for the summertime. In fact, if you like to avoid the crowds, winter is the time to go! Of course, there are some hikes best left to the summer (especially for those who are inexperienced) but there are lots that anyone can do in winter too.

One of my favorite hikes in winter is Queenstown Hill. This short 5-kilometer (3 mile) return hike only takes a few hours to walk and starts from right near the town center on Belfast Terrace. The trail leads up to Queenstown Hill Summit and from the top, you can enjoy breathtaking views over Queenstown.

Another short hike in Queenstown is Bob’s Cove track. This hike only takes 30 minutes but the views from Picnic Point are spectacular.

If you’re up for a challenge, try Ben Lomond Track. I’ve done it before in early winter and it was manageable, although pretty icy. I recommend wearing crampons if you want to hike Ben Lomond in the winter.

Many more easy hikes in Queenstown can be done in the winter, including Glenorchy Walkway, Sunshine Bay Track, and Mt Crichton Loop Track. I have guides on them also check them out if you want to go hiking this winter in Queenstown!

9. Visit the Onsen Hot Pools

View from the Onsen Hot Pools hot tubs
Can you imagine doing anything more relaxing in Queenstown?

If you haven’t heard of the Onsen Hot Pools before, then you’re going to want to act fast. This beautiful spa is home to New Zealand’s most famous private hot pools. A quick search on Instagram will return thousands of beautiful photos of people enjoying a private hot pool with magnificent views. Onsen is so famous that the pools are booked out months in advance, especially in winter.

For two adults, you can expect to pay $126 NZD for a one-hour soak in either a semi-indoor or outdoor pool. The tubs can fit up to four people though so even larger groups can enjoy the pools. Soaking in a a hot pool on a cold winter day is one of my favorite things to do in the winter in Queenstown, and luckily, New Zealand has some great hot pools so it’s easy to find this activity!

The Onsen Hot Pools aren’t located in Queenstown but instead a short 10-minute drive away near the Shotover Canyon. They overlook the valley and this is easily one of the most romantic activities to do in Queenstown. There are other hot pools in Queenstown if you’re looking for something local, but it’s hard to beat Onsen!

10. Go on a wine tour

People cheers at a table at the Kinross winery in the Gibbston Valley near Queenstown
Cheers to some good wine!

Wine tours aren’t just for the summer season, they are just as good in winter because, let’s face it, wine is good any time of the year! So, why not head out to New Zealand’s best wine region, the Gibbston Valley?

Unlike other wine regions in New Zealand, the Gibbston Valley is home to extremely small boutique wineries. The experience of tasting the wine is very personal and some wineries make such small batches that taking home a bottle or three is a must.

The most prominent wine in the Gibbston Valley is Pinot Noir and many of the wineries have won huge awards even beating the French! Some of my favorite wineries around Queenstown include Gibbston Valley Winery, Kinross (a cellar door for some of the smallest wineries in the region), and Mt Rosa.

The best way to explore all of these wineries is by booking a wine tour. And if you like boutique wineries, you should check out my blog about the best wine tours in the Gibbston Valley. With these tours, you don’t have to worry about driving (especially in winter conditions), and all the planning is taken care of for you!

This Central Otago Wine Tour is my top choice, as it includes stops at 4 different wineries and lunch! All of your tasting fees are included, so you’ll end up drinking a lot of wine after 4 stops. I love that it is a small group (only 12 people) so it never feels too crowded or like you’re waiting on others. You can simply sip on world-class wine, snack on artisanal wine and cheese, and enjoy the winter wonderland. You can reserve this tour for $239 NZD per person.

However, if you’re looking for a budget way to experience wineries, this hop-on hop-off wine tour is also a great choice! For $79 NZD, you can board the bus in Queenstown and stop off at any winery you’d like. The bus makes rounds every hour, so you can choose to visit one or two wineries or try and see them all during that time! Tasting fees aren’t included, but having transportation provided is a huge stress relief. Check out the details and reserve your seat here.

And if you’re looking to take your wine-tasting experience to the next level, check out this Helicopter Wine Sampler Tour. This 7-hour tour begins with a scenic helicopter flight over Queenstown and lands on the snow-covered mountain for a glass of wine with mountain-top views! You will then head to Gibbston Valley and visit 4 boutique wineries for tastings and tours. This would be such a fun activity for a celebration, like an anniversary or bachelorette party!

This tour includes the helicopter flight, wine tastings, and all transportation, but doesn’t include lunch. While I haven’t done this myself, it is high on my list! You can reserve this swanky wine-tasting experience for $699 NZD.

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11. Go on a scenic road trip

The Crown Range Road after snowing
Crown Range Road looking back towards Queenstown.

Winter road trips are the best! Not only are most attractions far less busy, but as I’ve said before, the views are just so much more beautiful. I have a few favorite road trips I love doing from Queenstown.

The first was mentioned above and that’s from Queenstown to Milford Sound. There are so many amazing places to stop, and this road trip is full of adventure. With that said, it is long, and personally, I always stay in Te Anau the night before I get to Milford Sound so I can take my time on the most beautiful part of the journey. Between Te Anau and Milford Sound, there are highlights such as the Key Summit, Lake Marian Track, and Mirror Lakes.

Another shorter road trip is from Queenstown to Glenorchy. This 46-kilometer journey is breathtaking, and along the way, you can explore so many amazing places and viewpoints. The best part is that once you arrive in the cute town of Glenorchy, you’ll get to explore all the best things to do in Glenorchy including hiking parts of the Routeburn Track and discovering the Glenorchy Animal Experience (more on that below on item #25 on this list!).

Last, is the road trip from Queenstown to Wanaka. This is one road trip most visitors do because let’s face it, there are a ton of awesome things to do in Wanaka so you need to visit! On this road trip, you can stop along Crown Range Road to admire New Zealand’s highest main highway, as well as stop at attractions such as Bradrona and the historic Cardrona Hotel.

Seriously, if you’re heading to Queenstown in winter check out all three of these road trips and drive at least one!

12. Enjoy a winter festival

A snowboarder at the Red Bull Rail Jam at the Queenstown winter festival
Queenstown Winter Festival Rail Jam!

Most guides of the best things to do in winter in Queenstown only include the famous Queenstown Winter Festival in their list. However, in order for your trip to line up with only one festival, you’d need to be very lucky. Instead, let me tell you about the three best festivals in Queenstown during winter:

Queenstown Winter Festival

Of course, the most famous and largest winter event is the Queenstown Winter Festival. Personally, I love the Winter Festival and look forward to it every year. It’s a huge event and during the festival, you’ll be able to enjoy various events, mulled wine, and fireworks! The Queenstown Winter Festival runs in the middle of June but you do need to check their website for up-to-date info as the dates change slightly every year.  


LUMA Southern Light Project is a light festival held in the Queenstown Gardens on the King’s birthday weekend at the end of May/start of June every year. LUMA is completely free and during the event, the Queenstown Gardens are decorated with lights to create a sensory experience. There are also food trucks and pop-up bars in the gardens!

Winter Pride

Winter Pride is Queenstown’s very own LGBTQI+ festival. The event is huge and usually filled with entertainment. It was once a free festival but now requires you to purchase tickets in advance. I recommend checking current dates on their website and purchasing tickets ahead of time if your trip overlaps with the festival! This is a really fun one to catch!

13. Party the night away

A group of people cheers at a bar in Queenstown

One of the reasons I love Queenstown is that no matter what time of the year or what day of the week it is, there’s always something going on. From dancing the night away to cocktails on the rooftop, there are plenty of places to party.

A few of my favorites include The World Bar – a trendy bar with amazing cocktails, The Sundeck – for the best rooftop views, and of course Cowboys – where every big night ends with a ride on the mechanical bull.

You can also join pub crawls in Queenstown that run every Friday and Saturday. It includes 5 free shots, pizza, and skip-the-line privileges, so it’s actually a great deal for $30 NZD. The good thing about pub crawls is you’ll get to meet lots of other visitors and make friends. The events usually have a theme so people often get dressed up and it’s really fun!

14. Go tobogganing

Let’s be real, winter in Queenstown doesn’t mean snow everywhere. You’ll find snow up on the mountains and plenty at the ski fields, but in the town itself, you’ll only get snow a few days a year.

If you’re lucky enough to be in winter when it snows in town then head over to K-Mart in Frankton and buy yourself a cheap sled. Then, go out and try tobogganing! On the hills all around town locals will be loving the snow and tobogganing as well.

Otherwise, you can always head up to one of the ski fields, The Remarkables or Coronet Peak, and go tobogganing there!

Did you know – it is free to use the ski fields if you aren’t using the lifts? That’s right, you can walk up the bunny hill with your sled and ride down for free! If you’ve never been tobogganing before then this is a must-do winter activity in Queenstown!

15. Try an adventure activity

A person hangs from a bungy cord at Kawarau Bridge Bungy in Queenstown, NZ
The river at Kawarau Bridge Bungy really is that blue!

Most adventure activities in Queenstown run all year round. Despite the cold, you can still jump out of an airplane, off a ledge, and even a bridge. My personal recommendation is to go skydiving! Although I’ve never done skydiving in Queenstown, I have gone twice before (in Australia and Canada), and let me tell you, the views you get during the jump are out of this world.

Just imagine falling towards The Remarkables Mountain Range with epic views of Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown. You can choose from a 9,000-foot, 12,000-foot, and 15,000-foot jump – the higher the jump, the more freefall time you’ll have, so you can be falling anywhere from 25–60 seconds. That’s a lot of time to take in the sights! You can check out the differences between jumps and book your level of adventure here.

If you’re even crazier than why not go bungy jumping?! I’ve done it a few times and find it scarier than skydiving. New Zealand is the home of bungy jumping, so this is a great place to try it out for the first time. The AJ Hackett bungy in Queenstown has the largest bungy and also a canyon swing, which will sure make your stomach drop!

But if you want to keep your feet on the ground and still get your heart racing, you can go on a canyoning tour. You’ll scramble over rocks, descend over cliffs, and slide down waterfalls. I’ve gone canyoning a few times and think it’s the perfect balance of adrenaline-pumping moments and just plain fun adventure. You can book a canyoning tour from Queenstown for $219 NZD.

Don’t let winter stop you from doing something crazy in Queenstown!

Why I Book Tours on Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! I almost always book all of my tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here

16. Go for a drink at an ice bar

Queenstown is home to not one, not two, but three ice bars. For a place so small I find that kind of weird, but hey, a little competition is great for visitors.

On a winter’s day, you may already feel like you’re in an ice bar, but you won’t get the experience of sitting at a bar and drinking out of a cup both completely made of ice. It’s something you have to do at least once in your lifetime and one of the best indoor activities.

The ice bars are very similar, and choosing between them all isn’t important. They all are cold (around -5°C to -10°C/20°F) and provide hats and jackets to keep you warm!

Minus 5 Ice Bar has tickets you can purchase in advance, which is $45 NZD and includes entrance fees and two cocktails. Queenstown Ice Bar has a similar deal for $45 NZD. You can simply pay for entrance and repurchase cocktails at the entrance of Below Zero Ice Bar. Kids are welcome here, and mocktails can be made too!

17. Eat Fergburger

A burger from Fergburger

One of my favorite things to do in winter in Queenstown is to eat Fergburger! I know this makes just about every blog I write about Queenstown, but seriously, it’s that good! Plus, why come all the way to Queenstown and not get to rate the burger yourself!?

Fergburger has lots of burgers to choose from, however, their famous burger is anything with the beef patty which is what put this place on the map (or maybe it was actually Ed Sheeran!). With that said, their venison, chicken, pork, and vegetarian options are really good too. A burger only costs around $15 NZD, so this is a cheap activity in Queenstown and a burger you just have to eat at least once (but will likely eat more!)

You may have to wait a while in order to get your burger, especially around 5 pm when everyone heads back from the ski hills. To avoid waiting over an hour eat outside of this time – like at 2 am after a night out like I do!

18. Ride in a Hydro Attack Shark

Hydro Attack speeds through the water in Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown
Even when it’s raining you can enjoy Hydro Attack. Photo credit: Hydro Attack Queenstown

Have you heard of the Hydro Attack Shark in Queenstown? Not likely, but it’s one outdoor activity in Queenstown that is unaffected by the weather! The Hydro Shark is like a jet ski, but it also goes underwater like a shark – you’ll be completely protected from Lake Wakatipu’s cold water.

You’ll sit in a seat behind the driver (you aren’t allowed to drive yourself), and then, like a fighter jet, they close the windscreen over you. You’ll fly across the water before the shark makes fast dives below the water and then pops up out of the water getting huge air!

The Hydro Shark isn’t a cheap activity and for a 15-minute ride, it’ll cost you upwards of $159 NZD. With that said, it’s unique to Queenstown. The Hydro Shark is often fully booked during weekends or peak seasons, be sure to book your experience in advance to avoid missing out!

19. Try Indoor Skydiving

A customer and coach fly in the iFly wind tunnel
Is this cool or what!?

Too cold or windy or snowy to go skydiving? Instead, head over to iFLY Queenstown to check out their state-of-the-art indoor skydiving tunnel.

Indoor skydiving is new to Queenstown and in 2018, construction on the state-of-the-art indoor wind tunnel was completed. iFLY Queenstown who owns and operates the tunnel is a leading indoor skydiving company with wind tunnels all over the world.

Indoor skydiving in Queenstown gives visitors the thrill of skydiving without actually jumping out of a plane – great if you’re afraid of heights or the weather isn’t cooperating for the real thing.

If you’ve never been indoor skydiving before then it may take a little getting used to, however, every session includes a personal instructor to help you out and show you the basics. The price for two flights starts at $129 NZD and although expensive, it’s a unique experience! You can check availability and book online here.

20. Play frisbee (disc) golf

Disc golf Queenstown gardens
Have you ever played disc golf before?

In the Queenstown Gardens, you’ll find a disc (frisbee) golf course. I personally love playing frisbee golf and the great thing about it is anyone who can throw a frisbee can play. Although I’m not very good, it’s still so much fun! If you don’t know what frisbee golf is, check out this guide. In all honesty, it’s easy to play.

In the winter, it is a little colder to be outside playing but if you’re dressed properly then you should be just fine. Grab a coffee or hot chocolate from town before you start, it’ll help keep you warm.

Using the course is free, but you will need to rent a Frisbee if you don’t have your own. You can rent them from the Queenstown Ice Arena in the gardens for only $6.

21. Swim at Alpine Aqua Land

Alpine Aqua Land is the name of Queenstown’s indoor pool. Located out in Frankton, the pool is open to the public and is a great activity to do especially if you’re visiting Queenstown with kids.

Entrance to the pools is only $8 NZD for adults and $4 for children. Within Alpine Aqua Land you’ll find a lap pool, a large kid’s pool with slides and games, and for the adults, there’s a hot tub and sauna. This hot pool even has views of the mountains!

Alpine Aqua Land is a good alternative for a hot soak if Onsen Hot Pools are already fully booked (which is often the case). If your muscles are sore from the slopes or hiking, then stopping here for an hour or two honestly isn’t a bad idea.

Alpine Aqua Land is completely indoors so it’s perfect on a cold winter’s day!

22. Enjoy snowy mountain peaks on a scenic flight

standing on a glacier after a helicopter ride in New Zealand
I went on a helicopter ride with my fiance and our friend!

A once-in-a-lifetime experience that can be done all year round is a scenic flight! A scenic flight might be even more scenic during the winter, and the best part is that you have plenty to choose from in Queenstown.

Scenic flights in Queenstown all range in price depending on if they land in the mountains and how long they fly. This specific helicopter flight has you flying around Queenstown for 30 minutes and includes a mountaintop landing.

This tour has some of the best aerial views of Queenstown, and landing on a snow-covered mountain is easily the best winter activity in Queenstown! While a scenic flight is a bigger budget item, I’ve taken three before and have thought each one was worth the cost- you can book this tour for $458 NZD.

In Queenstown, you can also use a scenic flight as a mode of transport – either by helicopter or plane. It is common for people to take a small fixed-wing plane to get to Milford Sound. In fact, this tour is the perfect option if you ask me since it includes driving to Milford Sound from Queenstown, then a boat cruise in Milford, and then a scenic flight back to Queenstown.

You’ll get to enjoy incredible views of Fiordland National Park and Queenstown from above all while cutting down the driving time on this epic day trip – a win-win if you ask me!

Scenic flights are a hugely popular activity, so you don’t want to wait until the last minute to book (especially to Milford Sound!). You can book this Milford flight in advance here!

20. Tour Kiwi Birdlife Park

A kiwi bird at the West Coast Wildlife Center
Kiwis are so cute!

New Zealand is world-famous for having incredible birdlife. This island nation was once a sanctuary for many birds and free of predators. Thanks to us humans though, introduced species like stouts, possums, and cats now pose a threat to many unique birds and populations are dwindling as we speak.

Luckily in Queenstown, we have the Kiwi Birdlife Park which is a wildlife refuge for native bird and animal species! And that’s right, it’s open in the winter too.

Visitors can explore the park to see some of these birds for themselves including the New Zealand Kiwi bird. There are daily shows where you can watch birds get fed and learn about the park’s conservation efforts. It costs $55 NZD for an adult to visit including watching any shows, and child and family rates are also available.

Keep in mind that while there are captive animals, it is a conservation program. The park helps heal injured birds from the area as well as manages breeding programs for endangered species working closely with the DOC. So, your entrance fee helps support the program!

You can find the Kiwi Birdlife Park near the gondola station on Brecon Street. The park is open all year round (except for Christmas Day) from 9 am to 5:30 pm.

You can easily book your tickets to enjoy the Kiwi Birdlife Park in advance online!

23. Enjoy delicious coffee

A cup of barista made coffee
Mmm, coffee!

Grabbing a coffee from one of Queenstown’s locally-owned cafes is a great way to start off a winter’s day. There are lots of amazing cafes in Queenstown to choose from and to be honest, it can be a little overwhelming. Luckily, there are a few that stand out. The first is Vudu Café and it’s my favorite! As a local, it’s my go-to for a morning coffee in Queenstown.

With that said, as a visitor you may want something with a better view. That’s why The Bathhouse is perfect. This slightly touristy café is located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu near Queenstown Beach.

Grab a coffee to-go and then go for a wander around Queenstown’s vibrant town center and lakefront.

24. Try Paragliding

A person paraglides over Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown
The views you get are out of this world!

Yes, you can go paragliding in the winter in Queenstown! Like many of the other scenic things to do, the views will be even better in the winter thanks to the snow-dusted mountains.

Paragliding is an adrenaline rush as you go running off the edge of a mountain. However, once you’ve been in the air for a few minutes it becomes a lot more relaxing and you can really just enjoy the view.

There are two different paragliding locations in Queenstown. You can soar from the top of Coronet Peak on this tandem paragliding experience. They provide transportation from central Queenstown and drive 20 minutes to the top of Coronet Peak. After a safety briefing, your pilot will lead you in a high-flying adventure, giving epic views of the valley below! This whole experience will take about 1.5 hours in total and can be booked for $339 NZD.

You can also launch from the top of Bob’s Peak. This is the most popular paragliding experience in Queenstown, therefore it must be booked in advance! You will need to purchase your Goldola pass on your own, but then you’ll fly down in style. Paragliding from Bob’s Peak is $320 NZD.

25. Explore Glenorchy

The famous trees in a line at the Glenorchy foreshore
These trees at the Glenorchy foreshore are really cool too!

After enjoying the scenic drive from Queenstown, you’ll arrive in one of the smallest, but most beautiful, towns in New Zealand – Glenorchy! From Queenstown, Glenorchy makes for a perfect day trip since it is only about 45 minutes away. There are a ton of things to do in Glenorchy including skydiving, jetboating, horse riding, and even a farm experience.

Those activities all cost money, but luckily, I have a guide to the 10 best free things to do in Glenorchy that includes the best hikes in Glenorchy like Glenorchy Walkway and day hikes on the Routeburn Track as well as activities such as visiting the Glenorchy Jetty. That’s one thing I also love about Glenorchy, I almost never spend a dime – except at Mrs. Wooley’s General Store on those delicious pies!

Another really cool activity in Glenorchy is the Glenorchy Animal Experience. The self-guided tour is located on a real New Zealand farm! On the tour, you’ll get to walk around and feed lots of animals including lambs, sheep, ducks, chickens, pigs, llamas, and horses. They also do sheep shearing demonstrations and you can play with the farm dogs. Admission is $25 NZD for adults and $15 NZD for children, but it all goes to the local business, which I’m happy to support!

Getting to Glenorchy: You can either rent a car in Queenstown and drive yourself to Glenorchy, or, jump on a guided tour.

My pick is this full-day tour that includes stops along the road to Glenorchy as well as lots of time to explore Glenorchy itself. This half-day tour is a great option if you want to learn more about the history of this quaint town and experience the best stops all along the way. Sometimes, I’m just grateful for someone else to do the planning and driving so I can simply enjoy the experience! You can book this tour in advance for $179 NZD.

26. Visit Game Over Queenstown

Game Over Queenstown is the perfect activity to do when it’s raining especially for those who love to challenge their friends. Game Over has three activities you can do including indoor go-karting, laser tag, and an arcade.

My personal favorite is go-karting. Game Over Queenstown has an indoor track that, although small, has really tight corners which makes racing fun and challenging! The go-karts are electric and they do limit the speeds on the karts for safety reasons. I find it lots of fun, but people who are used to racing fast go-karts might not.

Game Over Queenstown also has the largest selection of arcade games in Queenstown. You can play most games for only $1 each so it’s pretty cheap and there are lots of prizes to win. Personally, this isn’t my thing but some people love it.

The last thing to do at Game Over is Jurassic Battle Laser Tag. I’ve never played laser tag in Queenstown, but I have done it elsewhere. I’m not sure if I love it or not as my partner is a little too competitive!

27. Taste fudge at The Remarkable Sweet Shop

Candy at Remarkables Sweet Shop Queenstown
Mmmm, candy! Photo credit: Nguyenle165 Deposit Photos

The Remarkable Sweet Shop is the place to be if you have a sweet tooth. Floor-to-ceiling shelves of candy line the walls and they have tasters of their famous fudge available completely free. Seriously, they’ll let you try every flavor if you want.

Everything in the store is tasty, but my recommendation is to stick to homemade candies and fudge, so delicious!

You’ll find the Remarkable Sweet Shop right in the town center. It is open daily from 9 am to 8 pm. There are also two other locations nearby, one in Arrowtown and one in the Queenstown Airport.

28. Shop ’til you drop

Gift shop in Queenstown 2
Ready to do some shopping?!

For a small town, there’s certainly a lot of shopping you can do in Queenstown. From luxury international brands to souvenir stores, there’s plenty to check out. And in winter, shopping provides a way to escape the cold weather.

Although Queenstown isn’t home to lots of huge name-brand stores, there are still a few including Just Jeans, Louis Vuitton, Sunglass Hut, UGG, Ice Breaker, and Katmandu.

What I love most though are the cute boutique stores such as SLOW, STORM Women’s Clothing, and Wild South Adventure Clothing. All of these stores can be found around Queenstown town center but there’s lots more to see. My recommendation is to take a wander around.

You’ll also find plenty of souvenir stores scattered around Queenstown, so you can grab something to always remember your trip with!

29. Relax with a mulled wine

A lady drinks mulled wine at a table
Mulled wine is my favorite winter drink!

Another romantic winter activity in Queenstown is drinking mulled wine. For those who don’t know, mulled wine is essentially hot wine that’s mixed with spices like cinnamon to create a delicious hot beverage perfect for a winter’s night.

In winter, you can find mulled wine throughout Queenstown, however, some of my favorite places include Perky’s Floating Bar, The Bathhouse (my favorite), Attiqa, or at one of the yearly festivals such as LUMA or the Queenstown Winter Festival. Mulled wine is super common in New Zealand in the winter, so you’re sure to see it offered on most drink menus.

30. Attend the Queenstown Arts and Craft Market

Every Saturday many local artists set up small stalls on the waterfront in town (Earnslaw Park) to sell their handmade goods. Here is where you’ll find that special gift for a loved one back home or a souvenir to remember your trip. Not only will you find unique gifts and items here, but you’ll also support local vendors and have fun interacting with everyone, sampling tasty treats, and listening to talented buskers.

This Arts and Crafts market is open all winter long, every Saturday, from 9:30 am to 4 pm. It’s free to visit, but do bring some cash as I highly doubt you’ll be able to leave empty-handed!

31. Go ziplining

A person ziplining in Queenstown, NZ upside down with Ziptrek Eco Tours
Wow, such incredible views!
A man ziplining in Queenstown through the forest

Less extreme than bungy jumping or skydiving, ziplining offers panoramic views from high up in the air as you speed through the treetops. Plus, it’s completely doable in the winter months.

You can choose from a range of tours when booking which include as few as 2 zip lines and as many as 6.

The Moa Tour has 4 different lines that start low and gradually increase in height, length, and speed. This is ideal if this is your first time ziplining.

The 1-hour Kereru Tour while shorter than the Moa is a bit more thrilling as it includes 2 lines and a 22-meter drop (72 feet) at the end.

If you choose the Kea Tour you’ll get to do 6 lines along with the world’s steepest zipline which descends 30 stories at 70 kilometers (44 miles) an hour!

The tours are guided and you’ll take your time learning about the area along the way. In fact, the 6 zip line tour is almost 3 hours long!

You can book one of these epic experiences online in advance. Prices range from $119 NZD to $209 NZD.

It’s important to know that all of the ziplining tours mentioned above start at Bob’s Peak, so you’re either going to have to hike the Tiki Trail to get there or take the Skyline gondola. If you choose the gondola, this price is additional ($52 NZD) and you’ll need to coordinate your zipline tour start time with the gondola operating times. You should allow an hour to 1.5 hours to get up to Bob’s Peak if you’re taking the gondola.

32. Visit Arrowtown

Bailey walks through Arrowtown, New Zealand
Walking through Arrowtown on a beautiful winter morning!

Arrowtown is a small gold mining town located only 20 minutes from Queenstown. Although gold mining has finished in the area, the town has kept the old architecture and today it’s as cute as ever.

There are a few cool things to do in Arrowtown including wandering the main street, checking out the many boutique shops, visiting cute cafes, and heading to Slow Cuts to try some local craft beer! Be sure to head down to the river that runs through the town and take a stroll, it’s wonderful, and check out the Chinese Settlement.

You can easily visit Arrowtown on a tour from Queenstown. My pick is this half-day tour which includes a stop in Wanaka too! There is a ton of history in Arrowtown, so I think taking a tour is ideal for your first visit.

Many of the buildings are still standing from the early settlement and it is fascinating to learn about the area. You will also get to explore beyond Arrowtown as your guide has stops planned along the way, so it’s a full day of fun activities.

Escaping to Arrowtown is one of my favorite things to do in Queenstown in the winter, as it’s just so cute and charming! You can book this tour for $209 NZD.

You can reach Arrowtown with the public bus if you don’t have a car. To do so, simply head to the Stanley Street Bus Hub B and catch bus 2 towards Arrowtown. The bus takes around 30 minutes to reach Arrowtown from Queenstown and after you can catch the same bus back.

33. Get scared at Fear Factory

An actor at fear Factory, Queenstown
One of the actors at Fear Factory! Photo credit – Fear Factory Queenstown

Fear Factory in Queenstown claims to be New Zealand’s scariest haunted house – and based on my experience, that’s probably true.

As you walk through the haunted house you’ll encounter various actors that make the haunted house next-level scary. Don’t worry though, if at any point the house becomes too scary you can yell “I chicken out” to be brought directly to the exit. You’ll join over 23,000 other people who also were not able to complete the experience – a testament to how scary Fear Factory in Queenstown really is!

Prices change seasonally, but you can often snag a deal for about $40 NZD per adult. Fear Factory is centrally located on Shotover Street and you can book your visit online in advance. It is an indoor experience, so perfect for a really cold winter day!

34. Join a Lord of the Rings Tour

Playing dress ups on a Lord of the Rings Tour in Glenorchy
Playing dress up near where Isengard was filmed!

Around Queenstown, many of the scenes of the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed. If you don’t know where they are for yourself, then joining a Lord of the Rings tour is the best way to visit them.

This particular tour is the one I did and loved! The guide was super knowledgeable and besides telling us about LOTR, he also explained about Queenstown in general. LOTR tours are also scenic experiences because all of the movie film locations around Queenstown are absolutely breathtaking – Lord of the Rings fan or not, you won’t be able to deny this after visiting!

LOTR tours operate all year round, although, I do recommend trying to pick a warmer day since all of the film locations are outside. Or, just dress for the occasion! This 4-hour tour includes transportation from Queenstown, some snacks and light refreshments, and your wonderful guide for $270 NZD. Be sure to book this tour in advance, as people love LOTR tours!

35. Go ice-skating

Queenstown Ice Arena
Can you ice skate?

The truth is, it doesn’t get cold enough to have an outdoor skating rink in Queenstown. But that’s okay because Queenstown has its very own indoor ice skating rink that is open to the public!

Public ice skating sessions are only $20 NZD per person and include the use of a helmet and skates all day.

Queenstown Ice Arena also has a fully stocked bar which might make the bruises from falling down a little less painful – or at least help with your bruised ego. You’ll find the arena right in central Queenstown next to the Queenstown Gardens.

They claim to be the “coolest place in Queenstown” but I think the three ice bars in town would like to fight for that title! I guess you have to hit them all to decide for yourself!

Essential Tips for Visiting Queenstown in Winter

Lake Harris in winter
You can hike to some snowy spots in Queenstown in the winter months.
  • Wear layers and have warm clothing. Gloves and a beanie are essential, especially on colder days or in the evenings. Boots will also be handy.
  • If you need, you can buy winter clothing for cheap once you get to Queenstown. Head to the Salvation Army (second-hand store) or K-Mart to stock up.
  • If you’re planning to drive in the winter in Queenstown, be sure you have snow chains. On some roads, including the ones up to the ski fields, snow chains can be required. You should also know how to use them. Ask your car rental company for a demonstration, or just refer to trusty YouTube.
  • If you want to avoid the busiest time during the winter in Queenstown, be sure to not visit during New Zealand or Australian school holidays. These couple of weeks (from mid-July to the end of July) are by far the busiest.
  • Be sure to book in advance (especially if you’re visiting during the school holidays.) This includes your hotel, tours, and rental car. We have more tips on renting a car in New Zealand here!

Where to Stay in Queenstown in Winter

Lake Wakatipu with views of the Remarkables as seen from Queenstown
Winter in Queenstown is so beautiful!

When it comes to where to stay in Queenstown in winter this all depends on what you’re here for the most. If it’s skiing at Coronet Peak or The Remarkables then there are hotels for each ski field, if it’s for the vibrant town then there also a hotel for you. Below are the best hotels in Queenstown for different reasons and trips!

Hilton Resort and Spa – The Hilton is easily the best hotel if you’re skiing at The Remarkables due to its close location to the ski field access road.

Swiss-Belresort Coronet Peak – If you plan on skiing at Coronet Peak why not stay at the bottom of the access road. Swiss-Belresort is the best for this but there are also a few other hotels nearby you can check by clicking the map on the link above.

Nomads Queenstown Backpackers – For budget travels Nomads Queenstown is one of the best places to stay in Queenstown. Its location is perfect, and they have dorms and budget private rooms. Nomads is one of the best cheap hostels in Queenstown.

Crown Plaza Queenstown – if you want to stay close to town but in a nice hotel, Crown Plaza Queenstown is my choice. It’s in the heart of town along St Omar Park and they even have lake views!

For more info on the best places to stay, check out my complete guide on where to stay in Queenstown! It includes all the best accommodation in various different areas of Queenstown!

Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand

Bailey stands in front of a right green JUCY campervan
JUCY is one of my favorite campervan rental companies (read below for a discount code!)
Bailey stands behind her Mad Campers campervan cooking in the kitchen at Piha Beach
I also really like Mad Campers!

Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!

You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:

  • Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
  • Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It’s what most budget travelers use for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping…and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime! My favorite campervan rental company is JUCY because they have a huge selection of campervans to choose from, plus multiple pick-up/drop-off locations. You can browse JUCY’s campervan selection online here. Alternatively, you can easily compare all campervans available in NZ on Motorhome Republic here.

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE: I’ve managed to snag a discount code for 5% off for my readers if you book your campervan or motorhome through JUCY or Star RV! Simply click here to select your JUCY campervan, or click here to select your Star RV motorhome, and then use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off – it’s that easy!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey from My Queenstown Diary at Coronet Peak, New Zealand
Thanks for reading!

There’s really no shortage of amazing things to do in Queenstown in winter. But to be honest, winter is not just about that. It’s about the snow, views, atmosphere, and of course, the mulled wine! It kind of reminds me of home… just without the minus-30 temperatures!

Thanks so much for reading! If you found this blog helpful, then be sure to stay awhile and browse around. If you need more travel tips in Queenstown or as you plan the rest of your New Zealand adventures, I have lots of resources to help.

The BEST time to visit Queenstown – Comparing the 4 Seasons

1 Week South Island New Zealand Itinerary – 4 Tried and Tested Itinerary Ideas!

15 Perfect Romantic Getaways in NZ


Tuesday 11th of July 2023

Dont forget whakatipu brewery for the breweries in town... theyre the best

Tiffany Sta Cruz

Wednesday 22nd of March 2023

Hi, i found your blog interesting and helpful. Im visiting queenstown this June, and would like to ask some insights about places where i can go for star gazing. Ive read thatMone Lake is a nice place. Is it safe to be at Mone Lake at night just to kill time and star gaze? Is it also okay in NZ, queenstown specifically to stop on the shoulder of the pavement just to star gaze? Lastly, do you have any recos where i can rent car for a day or two and how much do you think will it cost me? I hope you could see this message and can get back to me 😊