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Après skiing in New Zealand is a must-do to add to your list when visiting local alpine townships such as Queenstown and Wanaka. Après, meaning 'after' in French, is the party that generally starts when the lifts close up for the day. It’s the celebration of how epic your skiing was; this article is dedicated to those who are looking for après skiing bars and other activities to enjoy when you’re on your winter holiday in the South Island of New Zealand!
Real Journeys are all about having a great time on your winter holiday but do make sure that you’ve got a responsible, sober driver in the group. New Zealand roads are known for being hilly, windy, and often narrow, especially in remote areas and close to ski fields!
Although the après ski party generally starts after the lifts close on the mountain for the day, there are many options to begin the celebration early! The larger commercial fields near Wanaka and Queenstown have plenty of opportunities and activities to fill in your spare time.
Cardrona Alpine Resort is New Zealand’s most popular ski area in winter, suiting all abilities from beginners to professional athletes worldwide. Outside of skiing, they offer a retail shop, accommodation, stargazing tours and much more.
After you’ve ridden the snow until your legs feel jelly, there are plenty of activities to do and even a bar where you can grab a mulled wine to warm up or a local pint.
There are eight cafes and restaurants located around the hill, with a range of food, beverages and eating styles to suit your mood. For those after deli-style bites and a glass of wine, head to The Lounge. For something a little different, the Noodle Bar offers Asian inspired food with the best views. If you’re after a slice of pizza and a local pint, Captain’s Pizzeria is a must. This Cardrona icon is 'ski-in ski-out', complete with a large deck to soak in the rays.
During operational times (8.30 am – 4 pm), activities like Snow Tubing are offered on the hill, and for those who aren’t interested in skiing or snowboarding, you can take a sightseeing gondola ride on the McDougall’s Chondola for a view.
But wait, there’s more!
Enjoy a cheeky glass of Mumm champagne at the Vista Bar, located at the top of McDougall’s Chondola. Don’t forget to snap a photo of the view and your après experience; otherwise, did it even happen?
After dark, Stargazing Tours are offered, as the area has minimal light pollution. You’ll put on one of the warmest jackets ever invented before seeing highlights of the Southern Sky, including constellations, movements of planets and more, with your guide.
We’ve made a quick list of things to do during your après skiing holiday outside of skiing. Whether you need a sports therapy massage or to relax in some hot pools, these are the best après skiing activities to do on your winter holiday.
Hot tubs are fantastic to relax after a hard days’ skiing on the muscles. Soak the sore away with the Onsen Hot Pools for those who are staying in Queenstown. For those after deep relaxation, try out the Salt Float Spas, which have 450kg of Epsom salt in each 600-litre water pod, taking gravity’s strain away. For those who are close to Wanaka, the Omarama Hot Tubs are another great option. There are plenty of options when to book these and can be booked in packages that include massages for the ultimate relaxation.
Queenstown and Wanaka both have plenty of options of places to find a massage specific to winter sports. Grab a sports massage from one of the many, such as Remedial Massage in Queenstown or Wanaka Sports Massage.
Central Otago is known for producing excellent wines, especially the Pinot Noir variety. For those in Queenstown, take a drive to Mt Difficulty Vineyard in Bannockburn and make sure you try the Roaring Meg Pinot Noir. For people staying close to Wanaka, Maude Vineyard boasts fantastic wines and a divine restaurant with one of Wanaka’s best views.
The party really starts after the moon comes up for the night. We’ve gathered a few après skiing activities to do at night.
Night skiing is not very common in New Zealand; however, Coronet Peak offers this from 4 pm every Wednesday and Friday until 9 pm and offer Saturday night skiing in the July school holidays. Grab a Coronet Peak Pale Ale, listen to the live DJ and maybe even do a few laps while you’re at it.
Nightlife in Queenstown is plentiful. Rhino’s Ski Shack is entirely après ski-themed, meaning it’s the perfect place to start your bar tour. If you’re still wearing your ski gear, a must-visit is the Minus 5º Ice Bar, where everything, including your glass, is made from ice, or you could stop in at Canyon Brewing or Cargo at Gantley's in Arthurs Point on the way down the mountain beforehand.
For those on a budget, 1876 has the cheapest drinks in town! Finally, for those still needing an extra adrenaline rush, Cowboys Bar has a mechanical ride-on bull, bound to provide some laughs for the night.
If you’ve been skiing in the Wanaka area at Cardrona, Treble Cone, or Snow Farm, a must-visit bar is the Cardrona Hotel, located in the Cardrona Valley. This hotel is one of New Zealand’s oldest and most iconic, serving a range of delicious bar snacks such as their fried pickles!
If you’re heading back into Wanaka’s township, Lake Bar has the best view of the lake in town. However, there are numerous fantastic choices for the best local craft beers, including b.social, Rhyme & Reason, Ground Up Brewing and Wanaka Beerworks.
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