Queenstown embraces rainbow life for Winter Pride

Rainbows have overrun Queenstown as the snow-loving town embraces Winter Pride.

Formerly known as Gay Ski Week before it was rebranded earlier this year, the festival has been running since 2012.

It's seen drag queens, kings, LGBT people and allies from all over the country descend upon the region, rendering the rainbow sash to easily identify your luggage useless because every single person has it.

Even the local stores are waving their rainbow flags in support, ranging from the iconic Remarkables Sweet Shop hosting a limited edition fudge to the pharmacies redecorating their front windows.

Rainbow fruit punch flavoured fudge at Queenstown's Winter Pride
A new 'fruit punch' flavoured fudge has had a limited release for the occasion. Photo credit: Newshub.

Each day has its own theme, with Wednesday chosen to be Onesie Day hosted at the Cadrona Skifield and Thursday hosting a charity ski race, while special Pride buses ferry eager snowbunnies up and down the mountains and to the parties back down below.

"Everyone's having a lot of fun. There's a big rainbow that's been cast over the city," The AM Show's social media guru Aziz Al-Sa'afin said.

"People are really coming to the party which is totally awesome."

Part of the rebrand, new co-organisers Mike Hughes and Martin King said earlier this year, was to make the event more open and inviting to the full LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community) as not everyone who came along self-identified as gay - while others preferred to snowboard instead of ski, and still others weren't too keen on the mountain sports at all.

Store at Queentown's Winter Pride
Some stores created rainbows of their own. Photo credit: Newshub.

People travel internationally to attend the event. Jordan Bruno, current holder of the Mr Gay World title, said it's incredibly special to compare the environment to his home of Australia.

"To come here and see the huge community support is seriously overwhelming," he told The AM Show.

"To come to Queenstown, you see same-sex couples with kids and holding hands, and no one looks twice. It means a lot to a person like me because in Australia, we don't quite have that level of acceptance just yet."

While it may seem like all fun and games at the week-long festival, it also aims to raise awareness within the community about sexual health - including free HIV and syphilis testing at multiple locations around the town - while different charity events raise money for the NZ AIDS Foundation and the local  Wakatipu Youth Trust.

MediaWorks, the first TV broadcaster to be accredited with a Rainbow Tick in New Zealand and owner of Newshub, is one of the festival's partners.

Breanna Barraclough stayed at Winter Pride courtesy of QT Hotels.