View of countryside and the Remarkables with snow in the foreground
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Best time to visit Queenstown

Guide by Roxanne de Bruyn

Last Updated 5 January 2024

While images of Queenstown often feature snow-capped mountains, it really is a year-round destination.

No matter when you visit Queenstown, you'll find plenty to keep you busy during your trip. In winter, you can enjoy skiing and snowboarding while summer is all about hiking and spending time outdoors. Here’s a brief overview of Queenstown in every season.

Summer (December - February)

Summers are warm and beautiful, with long days and plenty of opportunities for long lunches at vineyards, leisurely picnics at stunning lakes and water sports in the many lakes. 

Queenstown is a popular destination over the Christmas season and the town is usually busy from mid-December until late January when the school holidays end. New Year's Eve is always a fun time in town, with celebrations in town on the edge of the lake.

While it rains sporadically throughout the year in Queenstown, January is the wettest month, so be prepared for the odd shower if you visit at this time of year.

Autumn (March - May)

Autumn is a lovely time to visit Queenstown. Days are still warm, but not too hot and conditions are perfect for hiking and cycling. The air is often clear, so you’ll have beautiful views and there may be a small sprinkling of snow on the mountaintops towards the end of the season. May and June are the quietest months, with colder weather but still relatively light snow.

The colourful foliage is beautiful to see this time of year, and the Shotover River and Arrowtown are particularly pretty. The Arrowtown Autumn Festival is also well worth visiting if you're in the area in Autumn..

Winter (June - August)

June signals the start of the winter season and with several music events in Queenstown towards the end of the month. The ski season usually opens in mid-June, however snow can be light at the beginning of the season and the slopes can get busy during school holidays in the first half of July.

Winter is beautiful with snow on the mountains and clear, cold days, although the roads can get icy and you'll need chains on your car if you plan on driving up any mountains.

Late July to September is best for skiing and snowboarding, with the snow slowly disappearing from the mountains in October and November. The New Zealand Winter Games are also on around this time.

Spring (September - November)

Queenstown is also beautiful in Spring, if you don’t mind a little rain. As mentioned above, there’s still some snow on the mountains early in the season, which makes for stunning views and photographs.

Like Autumn, it’s a good time for hiking, cycling and other outdoor activities, although the weather is a bit cold for swimming. If you’re interested in taking a helicopter ride with an alpine landing, this is a great time to go as there’ll still be snow at high altitudes.

It’s also a good time to visit Milford Sound as the waterfalls are at their best due to the melting snow.

The July and September school holidays fall during the ski season and Queenstown can be very busy at these times.