In Queenstown, a little light exercise is rewarded by spectacular views. The Wakatipu Basin is a walkers’ paradise, and you don’t even need to go far from the town centre to experience some of the best day walks in Queenstown.

Queenstown has walks for every age and ability, from wide flat tracks that are wheelchair accessible and suitable for parents with pushchairs, to steep mountain climbs for fit experienced hikers.

Our local experts have put together their pick of the tracks. From the Queenstown Gardens to the lovely Lake Hayes loop, and some gems of walks in Arrowtown, choose one of these great day hikes, grab your walking boots, reach new heights, and soak up the stunning vistas.

 

Queenstown Gardens & 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 boutiquessouvenir shopsgalleries and high street label stores for some retail therapy.

Length: 3.1 km

How long will it take: 1.5 hr

Distance from Queenstown: Downtown Queenstown

Difficulty: Easy

Queenstown Gardens Autumn colours

Queenstown Gardens in autumn

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.

Length: 10 km

How long will it take: 3 hr

Distance from Queenstown: Start from the Queenstown Gardens

Difficulty: Easy

Frankton Arm pier at sunrise

Frankton Arm walkway in Winter

Sunshine Bay Track

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.

Length: 3 km

How long will it take: 1 hr

Distance from Queenstown: 1 km. Track starts from Sunshine Bay Beach

Difficulty: Easy – moderate

Sunshine Bay Track in Spring

Sunshine Bay Track in spring

The Queenstown Hill Loop

Test your legs on the Queenstown Hill Loop Track with climb through pine forests up to the Basket of Dreams sculpture by Caroline Robinson. This is a favourite lookout spot offering views over the Wakatipu basin to Cecil Peak, the Frankton Arm and Queenstown Bay. If you’ve still got energy to burn you can push on another 0.5 km to an even more spectacular viewpoint higher up the hill. The trail is well maintained but wear sturdy shoes. 

Length: 2 km to the Basket of Dreams

How long will it take: 1 hr

Distance from Queenstown: Leave from Belfast Street in downtown Queenstown

Difficulty: Moderate

Queenstown Hill Spring Hike
Looking over Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown Hill

The Tiki Trail

For one of the best views of Queenstown, and a decent workout, climb the Tiki Trail up to the Gondola building. Starting at the bottom of the Gondola, the Tiki Trail winds its way through trees towards the lookout at the top. 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.

Length: 2.1 km

How long will it take: 1 hr

Distance from Queenstown: Leave from the bottom of the Gondola

Difficulty: Moderate

Forest and Lake aerial views from the Tiki Trail

The Tiki Trail, a short but steep climb with rewarding views 

Ben Lomond Walkway

The Ben Lomond hike is a full day mission. The Tiki Trail is just your warm-up before tackling the Ben Lomond walkway, heading for the saddle or pushing on to the summit.

At 800 m you break out from the pines and walk amongst the alpine tussock and shrubs, heading for Ben Lomond Station at 1326 m. Then it’s a steep uphill mission to Ben Lomond’s 1748 m summit—with views to Mt Earnslaw and Mt Aspiring on a clear day.

Walkers aiming for the summit should allow six to eight hours, depending on the conditions, and be prepared for snow and ice above the bush line from April to November.

Length: 11 km return

How long will it take: 3-4 hr to Ben Lomond Saddle, 6-8 hr to Ben Lomond Summit

Distance from Queenstown: Leave from the bottom of the Gondola

Difficulty: Demanding

Friends hiking Ben Lomond in summerFriends hiking Ben Lomond in summer

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 shore and above the lake on a ridgeline looking towards the Remarkables. 

Length: 8 km

How long will it take: 2-3 hr

Distance from Queenstown: 5 km, Lake Hayes is between Queenstown and Arrowtown

Difficulty: Easy

Lake Hayes Loop Track reflections in Spring
Lake Hayes loop track views in spring

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 the Norman Smith footbridge that leads to Macetown 15km away.

You can cross the bridge and walk back along the riverside (there are some crossings along the way) or go back the way you 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.

Length: 4.2 km

How long will it take: 50 mins return

Distance from Queenstown: 22 km. Track starts in Arrowtown

Difficulty: Easy

Arrow River Trail in Autumn, ArrowtownArrow River Trail in Autumn

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 is nestled into the crook of two mountain ranges, emerald green golf courses, and Lake Hayes off to the south, with the Remarkables looming in the distance.

In the summer it’s a lovely spot to take in the golden hour just before sunset and see the last rays of sunshine over the Wakatipu Basin. Check out the remains of the old family cottage of Thomas Tobin on your left on the way up.

Length: 6.6 km

How long will it take: 1-2 hr

Distance from Queenstown: 22 km. Track starts in Arrowtown

Difficulty: Moderate

Tobins Track views in summer

Tobins Track, Arrowtown

Sawpit Gully

This two-three-hour walk is for visitors who need a little elevation in their hike. Start from the carpark near the Chinese Settlement in Arrowtown and take the Arrow River Trail from Bush Creek. Walk along until the turnoff indicating Sawpit Gully with a yellow arrow.

From there, 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 creek crossings (wear waterproof boots), 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.

Length: 7.9 km

How long will it take: 2-3 hr

Distance from Queenstown: 22 km. Track starts in Arrowtown

Difficulty: Moderate

Sawpit Gully Trail, Arrowtown

Sawpit Gully Trail, Arrowtown

A day walk in Queenstown will revitalise body and soul.