It’s true, Queenstown is close to some of New Zealand’s famous “Great Walks”. And yes, these walks are “Great” for a reason. But there are also many other incredible hikes (or if you’re using Kiwi lingo – tramps) in the Queenstown region that don’t require booking huts or lugging around a huge overnight backpack!
Whether you’re looking to base your Queenstown holiday around the trails or just squeeze in a walk while you’re here, there is something for everyone in our favourite picks of Queenstown hikes.
Bear in mind while you’re looking through our picks that we can match you with a fantastic guide. Rather than show you around in the boring old “follow the leader” style, our guides are local good guys and gals who know the area, are fun to be around and can fill you in on the history and flora and fauna of the area (if you want of course)! We can also arrange pick up and drop off to the trail heads if you wish.
Time: at your leisure (roughly half an hour)
Start/Finish: Park St in central Queenstown
You will find the Queenstown Gardens on a small peninsula on the shore of Lake Wakatipu, adjacent to the centre of Queenstown. This is the perfect stroll after picking up a takeaway flat white from Vudu café on the waterfront. Meander between the established trees and rose gardens along the lake side and soak in the great views – even play a round of frisbee golf if you wish!
Time: 2-4 hours loop
Start/Finish: The track starts from a car park 12 km from Queenstown on the Glenorchy–Queenstown Road
This track is a great chance to see some native trees and soak in a bit of history. Winding through native forest you’ll see mountain beech and mānuka, with red beech in the gullies.
Twelve Mile Creek Gorge was worked intensively by gold miners and signs of sluicing can still be seen. A short side track below Sam Sumners Hut leads to an impressive rock fissure once used as a tail race.
Time: 6-8 hours return
Start/Finish: Bush Creek/Macetown Rd – park near the old Chinese settlement
The Big Hill trail was the main route to the abandoned gold mining town of Macetown until the opening of the Macetown Road in 1884. Today the trail follows the old bridle trail, climbing steadily from Bush Creek via Eichardts Flat to a high saddle with grand views over the Arrow basin and Lake Hayes. From here you can return on the same route, or descend steeply to Eight Mile Creek and follow the creek downstream to the Macetown road. This is a route rather than a well-formed trail. While most people walk to Macetown via the 4WD track, by going via Big Hill you’ll get better views from up high, go through native beech forest and see Macetown from above as you descend.
Time: Ben Lomond Summit 6–8 hr return
Start/Finish: bottom or top of Skyline Access Rd
Talk about rewarding! This iconic track begins among Douglas fir on the Skyline Access Road. At 800m altitude you enter alpine tussock and shrubs, climbing to the 1326m Ben Lomond Saddle. The track gets steeper and rougher as it approaches Ben Lomond’s 1,748m summit. In fine weather the amazing views will have you mesmerised by the peaks of Mt Earnslaw and Mt Aspiring, two of the highest peaks in the area, not to mention fabulous views of Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown itself.
Time: 1 hr return
Start/Finish: the entrance is at the bottom of Ford Street (off Centennial Avenue and Bedford Street corner) in Arrowtown. Walk down to the river from the carpark, turn right to follow the track and then left over a bridge that takes you across the Arrow River.
A steady climb will take you up to the Crown Terrace for spectacular views of Arrowtown, the Wakatipu basin and the surrounding mountains. You’ll see the Remarkables Ski Area on your left and Coronet Peak Ski Area on your right, with Lake Hayes and Lake Wakatipu in the middle. A fabulous spot to get your bearings!
Time: 3 hr return
Start/Finish: Arrow Gorge or Arrowtown Chinese Settlement
If you don’t mind a bit of uphill walking then you will love this loop track through mostly open country. From the old Chinese Settlement, go up the Arrow River – either following the Arrow Gorge Track along the pipeline or from the Macetown Road, crossing the bridge over the river. We love heading clockwise around this loop to get the steep uphill out of the way first, and then to be rewarded by fabulous open views at the saddle before descending. You will see a derelict hut to the left of the track on your way down left over from the old mining days.