snowboard nz winter


Apres ski: What to do after dark in Queenstown

Published May 24th, 2019

It’s the snow and the slopes that draw revellers to Queenstown every winter, but it’s the apres ski action that keeps them coming back. Here’s a guide to Queenstown after dark.

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Rehydrate on the bar circuit

100 bars and restaurants within one square kilometre equals 100 reasons to hit the centre of Queenstown once the sun goes down. Champagne with a lake side view, sky-high mountain lookouts with a house-made gin cocktail, steaming hot mulled wine by an outdoor fire, it’s all here. If you’re tight on budget, there are kiwi craft beers, friendly local pubs and trendy bars.

Our picks? Smiths Craft Beer House, The World Bar, Eichardt’s Bar, Atlas Beer Cafe, Little Blackwood and Habana Boutique Rum Bar. Want the grand tour? Queenstown’s Original Pub Crawl is always an epic night out.

Hit the dancefloor

Keen for the clubs? Soak up the live music, international DJs and pumping dancefloors ‘til the wee hours at Barmuda, Attiqa, Upstairs at The Bunker, Ballarat Trading Company and Yonder. No guarantees you’ll be up early to hit the slopes tomorrow though.

Strip off, chill, warm up

Think all the onsen action is in Japan? Wrong. Queenstown has its own Onsen Hot Pools Retreat and Day Spa - THE perfect spot to soothe those weary muscles, relax and melt into yourself before bed, complete with the epic alpine views of Shotover Canyon.  A massage never goes astray either. Expect epic dreams in this blissful state.

Jump after dark

Queenstown is NZ’s capital of adrenaline pumping action after all. So throw yourself 47m into the darkness below on a night-time bungy jump with Ledge Bungy - well, apart from the twinkling lights of Queenstown beneath you. Yes, for reals. You know you want to.  

Ski under the stars

Can’t...won’t…don’t want to stop skiing? Hit the slopes beneath the stars, the moon and, okay, huge spot lights too at Coronet Peak. This is your only local chance for night skiing. It happens Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturday ‘til 9pm. And sometimes they’ll even have bands playing on stage slope-side.

Then, hit the Ice Bar for apres-beers or drop by the fine bars and restaurants of Arrowtown. Sure, it’s quieter than Queenstown, but the town’s charm will win you over with its 1860s gold rush character. Perfect for Insta.

Mystery chills

More interested in night-time frights for the mind? Queenstown is home to escape rooms at Odyssey Sensory Maze, and a haunted house called Fear Factory… because fear is the ultimate group bonding activity.

Hit the festivals

The Real Journeys Queenstown Winter Festival is the biggest winter party in the Southern Hemisphere. Think fireworks, live music, gala balls, comedy, heaps of mountain action and yes, dogs in dress-ups too. In 2019, it’s happening 20-23 June.

Another epic Queenstown fest is Winter Pride - the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest gay alpine celebration. Expect glitz, snowflakes, glamour and the works.

Eat all the foods

From laneway pizza joints like The Cow, to Michelin-starred eats at Rata, Queenstown has you covered. There’s tasty Thai, Indian, Japanese and Italian foods, gluten-free and vego too.

And yep, budget travellers won’t go hungry either; go for the cheerful Mexican (and an epic Tequila menu) at Loco Cantina, the cheap and wholesome hangover brekkies at Red Rock, and for the best burgers in town? Fergburger is the word, a famed favourite (affordable too).

Stargaze in clear skies

Clear nights in Queenstown are mega-amazing. With hardly any light pollution, the stars stand out like a rogue prickle in your ski sock. Go alcheapo and simply look up while you’re out and about, or do it properly and take a stargazing tour with Skyline Queenstown to peer through their super-powered telescopes into faraway galaxies.

If you’re really, really lucky, you might even spot the Southern Lights (aka Aurora Australis) dancing over the night skies. Now THAT will make you go “wow” and send your Facebook feed into a frenzy.


Tijana Jaksic

After some hardcore scrimping and saving, Tijana’s first backpacking trip confirmed she was onto something good. She hasn’t stopped since. Fave memories to date include dancing with locals in the streets of Havana, bartering for too many scarves in the markets of India, getting lost in the bustle of Hong Kong, sipping cocktails in the Greek Islands and jumping off waterfalls in Croatia. Now she gets to write about travel for a living – the best way to satiate the wanderlust between adventures.