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Backcountry hiking at Cardrona

Backcountry hiking at Cardrona

Five ways experts explore the outdoors in Queenstown

From rivers to mountaintops, Queenstown’s natural playground offers some of New Zealand’s best experiences for lovers of the great outdoors. Here’s your must-do list.

From skiing to mountain biking, hiking and running, Queenstown serves up a plethora of ways to push the fitness envelope for everyone from beginners on the trail to full-blown athletes on the slopes. Here’s five ways to explore the outdoors and get your heart pumping all winter long.

Skier at The Remarkables in Queenstown

The Remarkables

The Remarkables

Skiing and snowboarding

With four world-class ski fields within easy driving reach, you’ll be guaranteed a thigh burn. Experts tackle the steeps of the Motatapu chutes at Treble Cone or take the short hike to the finger chutes at The Remarkables. Freestylers hit the Olympic-sized half-pipe at Cardrona and those who like their snow groomed can carve it up at Coronet Peak. Powder hounds need only jump into a helicopter for a day of skiing virgin untracked powder runs or climb into a snowcat at Soho Basin for a full day of cat skiing.

MTB trails Queenstown Bike Park

Skyline MTB Park

Skyline MTB Park

Mountain biking

Come spring, seasoned locals swap ski pants for bike shorts and hit the trails. Take an electric or mountain bike across the lake from Queenstown’s Steamer Wharf on a Southern Discoveries catamaran and bike the flatter off-road trails to Walter Peak sheep station for a ride back to town on historic steamship, TSS Earnslaw.

Want more grunt? Take the downtown Gondola to Skyline MTB park and choose from green, blue or advanced black trails back down, or bike all or part of the 122km Queenstown Trail past Lake Hayes and picturesque Arrowtown, then out to the Gibbston Valley wine region. Need more? Two words: heli biking. A helicopter takes you and your bike to remote trails with incredible views and a guide leads you back down.

Hiking above Queenstown

Hiking above Queenstown

Hiking above Queenstown

Hiking, tramping and trekking

Whether taking on the two-hour uphill meandering track to Sawpit Gully near Arrowtown, a full day’s trek up the majestic Ben Lomond Track or a gentle jaunt around Moke Lake, hikers will never want to leave. Most trails are accessed either from town or via a short drive to the trailhead. Experienced hikers hit the technical Moonlight Track, easy-going gold prospectors choose the Mt Crichton Loop Track, while adventurers head a little out of town to take in the swing bridges of the Routeburn Track.

Runner on the Lake Hayes trail in Spring

Runner on the trail by Lake Hayes

Runner on the trail by Lake Hayes

Run, run, run

The Queenstown International Marathon is considered one of the most beautiful circuits in the marathon world. Held every spring in November, runners choose from four distances – 3km, 10km, half marathon or full marathon. The course winds alongside rivers and lakes, heads off-road and back on-road again and showcases the allure of Queenstown’s beauty to help runners charge on.

Funyaking on the Dart River

Dart River Funyaks

Dart River Funyaks

Water sports

Like your sport in the water? Grab a kayak and hit Lake Wakatipu, or take a jetboat up the Dart River from Glenorchy, then Funyak downstream, exploring this World Heritage area. Hike into the Landsborough Valley and whitewater raft for three days back out, or go for a half-day or full-day whitewater raft through Kawarau Gorge or down Shotover River.

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