Celebrate winter in Queenstown - New Zealand's greatest holiday town

If you’ve heard of New Zealand winter holiday destinations, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Queenstown.

With a population of around 28,000, this South Island destination is famous for its extreme sports activities, with two popular ski fields – Coronet Peak and The Remarkables – right next door.

Everyone in Queenstown loves the winter, so each year locals and tourists alike celebrate the coming of the snow in style, by putting on the Queenstown Winter Festival.

Queenstown Winter Festival

Festivals don’t often stick around if people don’t visit them. So when we tell you that the Queenstown Winter Festival has been going for a whopping 40 years, you know it’s going to be spectacular.

This 10-day event often brings thousands of visitors. And we mean thousands. The festival’s website states that up to 45,000 people can be expected to join in the fun each year.

It’s not a hard destination to get to, either, despite being surrounded by towering mountain ranges (great for photo opportunities, by the way). There are regular flights from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, as well as numerous international arrivals from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

What to do at the Queenstown Winter Festival

The event kicks off on Friday June 19 and lasts until June 28. Make sure you’re in town right from day one, because the event opens with a bang.

Literally.

The Queenstown Winter Festival fireworks show is a dazzling spectacle that is not to be missed. The town is pretty enough on its own, but when it’s lit up by colourful, luminous displays, it’s even better. With food stalls to fill your belly and live music to fill your soul, this event shouldn’t be missed.

Dog lovers can check out the Dog Derby on June 25, happening on the slopes of Coronet Peak. Both farmers and ‘townies’ will be here with their canine companions, racing and sliding down the snow in one of the longest-lasting features of the event. On the same day, dogs will gather near the town’s waterfront for a barking competition! Make sure to bring a camera – if the owners can’t get their dog to bark on cue, they have to get down on all fours and bark on their behalf.

Arts and craft festivals, ice hockey matches, stand-up comedy shows and so much more happen throughout the week. Combine these with the regular, world-renowned tourist attractions of Queenstown and you have a holiday recipe for success.

Staying safe this winter

The fun of Queenstown will blow your mind, but as always, while enjoying the cold adventures, make sure you stay safe.

In town especially, where winter temperatures often drop well below 0 degrees Celsius, roads and walking paths can quickly become covered in ice. A big day hitting the slopes will also need your full attention.

Remember along with packing your favourite snow boots, you may like to pack some added peace of mind by checking out the optional Snow Pack offered by Virgin Travel Insurance.

Will you be celebrating winter this year?