Issue #955

LWB Issue 955

The cold shoulder

by Paul Taylor - Journalist, Queenstown Media Group

Is Queenstown losing its mojo? It certainly feels like that at this time of year, after a few months of a slow shoulder season and with little to no snow on the mountains ahead of ski season (as Lakes Weekly went to press).

The Remarks and Cardrona are scheduled to open this coming Saturday, 15 June, but there’s not much snow forecast this week and no wonderful apocalyptic dump like we had a few years ago, when we had snow up to the top of the base building windows and Helga the Airport Runway Snow Blower being called in clear the roads. We could be in for a wait until we’re hitting our first decent runs of the season. Next week looks pretty fine too, unfortunately. It has been too warm, on the whole, for even the snow guns to be blaring yet.

Which is a massive shame because town feels super quiet at the moment. Pre-Covid, I’m sure we were talking about shoulder seasons being a thing of the past, and Queenstown Lakes being a proper four season holiday spot, but now they appear to have returned with a vengeance. We went into town on Sunday for a RealNZ jetboat across the lake. It was kids-go-free, which was a fantastic way to blow out the cobwebs, but even then, the boat wasn’t full, and there wasn’t much of a buzz around the CBD.

That could be down to international brands taking over too many of the premises that used to be occupied by local businesses, or the fact there’s no planned Winter Festival to get people fizzing. It could be that Destination Queenstown and big businesses have dropped the ball a little in selling the town to tourists from Australia, the US and elsewhere, but in all likelihood it’s down to macro economics. There’s recession elsewhere in NZ affecting the domestic market, along with inflation and the cost of living crisis worldwide.

It will be interesting to see how local businesses have faired over the past few months. I can’t imagine it has been pretty but hope you’re all sticking in there. And what’s in store for winter? Are we in for a record-breaking too-many-tourists Queenstown-delivers style season, or is the malaise deeper than the autumnal blues and tourists are choosing more value-for-money destinations closer to their homes.

June is early season, it is for locals, it’s just a lackluster time of year. Hopefully the snow brings the crowds, with plane-fulls of Aussies and next month I’m complaining about over-tourism as I wait in line for a coffee at The Remarks (as the superb staff sling out what looks like thousands per hour), before dropping the kids at Rippers and heading up for freshies off the new Shadow Basin chairlift (see p4 for more on that).

I can’t wait for us all to say goodbye to the SAD (seasonal affected disorder) - bring on Winter 2024!


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The Lakes Weekly is part of Queenstown Media Group (QMG).

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The Lakes Weekly is hand delivered to every business in Queenstown, Arrowtown, Frankton, Five Mile Remarkables Park and Glenda Drive on Tuesday. Copies are available in service stations, libraries and drop boxes throughout the region and every supermarket throughout the Queenstown basin and Wanaka.

Online the issue is available Monday afternoon, on and the Qtn App.


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