The best things to do in Queenstown during the Christmas holidays

24/11/2013 | Posted in Discover Queenstown

The festive season is one of the best times of the year. If you’re going to be in Queenstown, there’s plenty to do in the resort over the Christmas holidays.

With hot weather and long summer days, Queenstown is one of the best places in New Zealand to be over the holiday period.

There’s so much to see and do – for all ages and budgets.

Family fun with Santa, outdoor theatre, sports events and music festivals plus lazy days on the lake make Queenstown a hive of activity at this time of year.

Christmas time is loads of fun for the kids, and Queenstowners put on some special activities for visiting and local children alike. Santa’s Grotto takes kids on a journey through a world of Christmas fantasy from December 3-24. Open from 10.30am-7pm at 10 Athol Street, there’ll even be visits from the big man in red himself at scheduled times.

Join in the community Christmas spirit with a fantastic event, the Shotover Jet Christmas Cracker. Held at the Recreation Ground in central Queenstown, Santa Claus will be joined by more than 150 local entertainers during this event on December 14. Bring along a picnic and take a blanket to enjoy an evening of family entertainment, fun and fireworks. Tickets range from $5-$15.

For those of you wanting to get a bit of shopping in before the big day, visit the Christmas Market Day in Arrowtown on December 8. Held at the Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall, this is a fundraiser for Plunket and you’ll be able to find all sorts of unique handcrafted items from around New Zealand.

Queenstown really goes off over the New Year period. New Year’s Eve celebrations include live music and an incredible fireworks display on the lakefront, attracting thousands of revellers – the whole resort goes into party mode.

The new year signals the start of the Summerdaze Festival – a month-long celebration of all things summer in the district. The council puts on dozens of free and paid events for everyone to enjoy.

On New Year’s Day, the national men’s cricket team the Black Caps play the West Indies for a one-day international at the Queenstown Events Centre. These events always attract a good crowd so it’s best to get your tickets early.

On January 4, Glenorchy hosts the wildly-popular Glenorchy Races. This race day is like no other – it’s rough, wild, and hugely entertaining, on and off the track. It’s held at the Glenorchy Recreational Grounds. Glenorchy is a 35-minute drive from Queenstown.

And if you want to experience a bit of rural life, visit the Lake Hayes A&P Show on January 11. Held at the picturesque Lake Hayes Showgrounds, there’s livestock, equestrian events, arts and crafts and family entertainment.


For a comprehensive guide to what’s on in Queenstown over the summer holidays, check out and Destination Queenstown’s events guide.

For your perfect festive holiday, you also need the best accommodation. Whether you’re sharing Christmas joy with extended family or a group of friends, we have the luxury self-contained accommodation to suit your needs. Our private, spacious apartments are situated close to central Queenstown or in a resort-style setting in the Kawarau Village.

The Staysouth team loves this time of year – talk to us today about making your festive stay an extra merry one.

Photos courtesy of Summerdaze Festival