The Wakatipu Basin is a walkers’ paradise, and for many of the best ones, you don’t even need to go far from the town centre to reach new heights and take the time to soak up the stunning views. From the Queenstown gardens to Lake Hayes and some gems in Arrowtown, lace up your walking shoes and get going.
Queenstown Hill Spring Hike

Looking over Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown Hill

Queenstown Hill Loop

For a moderate challenge, starting directly from downtown, visitors can test their legs on the Queenstown Hill Loop Track up to the ‘Basket of Dreams’, a favourite lookout spot. The three-hour walk starts and finishes on Belfast Street, and offers views over the Wakatipu basin to Cecil Peak, the Frankton Arm and Queenstown Bay.

Tiki Trail

For one of the best views of Queenstown and an iconic experience in the alpine resort, there’s the Tiki Trail. Starting at the bottom of the gondola the Tiki Trail winds its way towards the lookout at the top where you have the option of making your way back down, after a few photos and a drink, or if the climb has got the better of you relax in the Gondola for the journey back down.

Ben Lomond Walkway

This one is a step (or a few thousand) above the Tiki Trail, which is just the warm up before tackling the Ben Lomond walkway, heading for the summit, or saddle. At 800m you break out from the pines and walk amongst the alpine tussock and shrubs, heading for Ben Lomond Station at 1326m. Then it’s a steep uphill mission to Ben Lomond’s 1748m summit—with views to Mt Earnslaw and Mt Aspiring on a clear day. Walkers aiming for the summit should allow five to eight hours, depending on the conditions, and be prepared for snow and ice above the bush line from April to November.

Queenstown Gardens Autumn colours

Queenstown Gardens is just 5 minutes walk from downtown Queenstown


Queenstown Gardens and CBD café shopping trail

Queenstown Gardens provides a great wheelchair accessible option and has outstanding flora and fauna year-round. Explore the rose gardens, play a round of Frisbee golf or walk along the shore of Lake Wakatipu, before heading back to town to weave through the compact and cosmopolitan town centre, exploring the boutiques, souvenir shops, galleries and high street label stores for some retail therapy.

Frankton Arm Walkway

The Frankton Arm walkway is also wheelchair-friendly and the relatively flat trail leads all the way to Frankton alongside the sparkling waters of Lake Wakatipu. Marvel at lake-side houses and gardens, watch planes land at the airport and stop here and there at the beach, or at the marina for a café break. 

Sunshine Bay Track

Or for another perspective head out towards Glenorchy on the Sunshine Bay track and enjoy the views across the lake to Cecil and Walter Peaks. Watch the TSS Earnslaw steam her way to Walter Peak, and the many other lake cruise vessels take to the water with waving visitors on-board. Then head through native bush to reach Sunshine Bay’s jetty. There’s also a side-track that leads to a waterfall at Two Mile Creek Falls.

The Lake Hayes loop track circles what is possibly the most picturesque location in the wider Queenstown region

Lake Hayes Loop Track

Lake Hayes loop track in Autumn

Lake Hayes Loop

The Lake Hayes loop track circles what is possibly the most picturesque location in the wider Queenstown region. If it’s a flat calm day, the reflections of the willow trees, reeds, mountains and lakefront houses is just magic. The two hour walk winds around the lake, by its shores or above on a ridgeline looking towards the Remarkables. 

Tobin’s Track

Tobin’s Track is a relatively quick hike up to the edge of the Crown Terrace above Arrowtown. Join the locals that use it as a workout challenge by running or cycling up it and take in the views: Arrowtown’s grid of streets nestled into the crook of two mountain ranges, emerald green golf courses, Lake Hayes off to the south, with the Remarkables looming in the distance. In the summer time it’s a lovely spot to take in the ‘golden hour’ just before sunset, to see the last rays of sunshine over the Wakatipu Basin.

Sawpit Gully

This two-three hour walk is for visitors who need a little elevation in their hike. Taking the Arrow River Trail from Bush Creek walk along until the turnoff indicating Sawpit Gully with a yellow arrow. From then it’s a steady climb up along the rim of the gully, then down to the trickling stream for a series of back-and-forth crossings, and up again to be rewarded with views of Lake Hayes, the Remarkables and Queenstown Hill in the distance. It’s all downhill from there, before coming back to Arrowtown along Bush Creek.

Arrow River Trail

Starting in historic Arrowtown, a walk along the Arrow River is a must-do for any day visitor. The Arrow River Trail starts to the west of Arrowtown, following the large irrigation pipeline along the river, past the turnoff to Sawpit Gully, and to a footbridge that leads to Macetown, some 15km away. Walkers can cross the bridge and walk back along the riverside (there are some crossings along the way) or go back the way they came along the track. Back in Arrowtown, it’s lovely to walk along the river and amongst the trees before re-joining Arrowtown’s quaint streets to lap up the café culture, or grab a pint in the sunshine.

A day walk in Queenstown will revitalise body and soul.