The best après ski in New Zealand

Itching for a winter holiday? Our neighbour New Zealand has some of the best ski resorts in the Southern Hemisphere. And where there’s ski, there’s après ski. Go from a day on the slopes to a night in pumping après ski bars, and find out why there’s nothing like winter in New Zealand.

There’s more to a ski holiday than snow. For many, it’s after skiing – or, as the French call it, après ski – that the holiday really starts.

Fortunately, New Zealand’s ski regions are packed with great bars, pubs and restaurants, perfect for unwinding – or kicking off your post piste party – in after a day on the slopes. From the South Island to the North, here are some essential après bars for your trip across the Tasman.   

Where to après ski on the South Island 

Southern Lakes (Queenstown and Wanaka) 

Three friends enjoying a drink in a ski bar

Cardrona Hotel, Cardrona 

This iconic tavern, located on Crown Range Road between Queenstown and Wanaka, regularly makes it onto the world’s best après ski bars list and for obvious reason. The gold-rush era building with its faded yellow exterior is packed with open fireplaces and comfortable armchairs to settle in to with a pint of Speight’s after a day on the slopes. It also makes a great, central accommodation option for the Southern Lakes ski region. 

Lake Bar, Wanaka 

For après ski with a view of the mountain ranges, head to Wanaka’s Lake Bar. After a day hitting the runs in the Cardrona, Treble Cone, Snow Farm or Soho Basin ski areas, watch the sun set over the Southern Alps with a glass of pinot noir – the Central Otago region’s specialty – before, if you’re up for it, a bar crawl down the lakefront strip. 

Rhino’s Ski Shack, Queenstown 

This vibey, alpine-themed basement bar in the heart of the pumping resort town has everything you need for an authentic après ski experience: hot rum, cold beer and decorations ranging from vintage ski gear to chopped logs. By day, patrons unwind over Jenga or bingo; by night, hip-hop DJs turn Rhino’s into one of Queenstown’s best nights out. 

Mt Hutt 

Three people in a mountain spa surrounded by snow

The Brown Pub, Methven 

There are two bars to choose from in the Brown Pub. The Main Bar has everything you’d expect from a country pub – sport on the TV screens, a jukebox and Friday night karaoke sessions – but for something quieter there’s also Mac’s Backyard Craft Bar. With a range of Kiwi brewer Mac’s craft beers on tap, local Canterbury wines and an open fire, it’s perfect if you’re in the mood to unwind.

The Blue Pub, Methven 

The Blue Pub, across the street from the Brown Pub, has been a favourite après ski spot with snow-goers since the ‘70s. Refuel with one of their famous pork and venison tower burgers in front of the open fire or relax over a game of pool. The Blue Pub also doubles as a live music venue.   

Where to après ski on the North Island 

Mt Ruapehu 

Turoa Lodge, Ohakune 

A favourite with locals and visitors alike, there’s a party or event on at Turoa Lodge every night of the week during the ski season on the nearby Whakapapa and Turoa ski fields. Go early for the open fire and pub fare – stay late for the DJs and dance floor.   

Powderkeg, Ohakune 

With its wood-panelled walls and roaring central fire pit, “the Keg” as it’s known among friends is the ideal of a mountain bar inside the Powderhorn Chateau. The wine list features the best of New Zealand (plus a few from Australia and France) and there’s plenty on the extensive menu to satisfy all tastes. An Ohakune institution.   

Words by Anna Webster; published Wednesday 11 March 2020

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