In Queenstown, a little light exercise is rewarded with big spectacular views. The Whakatipu Basin is a walkers’ paradise. You don’t even need to go far from the town centre to connect deeply with nature and experience some of the best day walks in Queenstown.

Queenstown has walking tracks for every age and ability, from wide flat trails 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 best tracks. From Queenstown Gardens to the lovely Lake Hayes Loop, and some Arrowtown gems, choose one of these ten great day hikes, grab your walking boots, reach new heights, and soak up the stunning vistas.

1. Queenstown Gardens Trail

The Queenstown Gardens Trail is a wheelchair-accessible trail just a few minutes from central Queenstown. The flat, easy track has spectacular views of Lake Whakatipu, Cecil Peak, and Walter Peak and the manicured gardens are beautiful year-round. 

You could spend hours here exploring the rose gardens or playing disc golf. If you’re tight on time, the loop around the shore of Lake Whakatipu takes less than an hour to complete.

  • Length: 3.1km return
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Start: Downtown Queenstown
  • Difficulty: Easy
Queenstown Gardens Autumn coloursQueenstown Gardens in autumn

2. Frankton Arm Walkway

The Frankton Arm Walkway is also wheelchair friendly. The relatively flat trail runs from the Queenstown Gardens all the way to Frankton alongside the sparkling waters of Lake Whakatipu. 

Marvel at lake-side houses and gardens as you bike or walk the track. Take a pit stop at the marina for a café break, or one of the many beaches for a lakeside picnic. 

  • Length: 10km one-way
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Start: Queenstown Gardens or Frankton Beach
  • Difficulty: Easy

Two people having a rest on a pier looking out over the lake and Remarkables mountains while biking the Frankton TrailView from Frankton Arm Walkway

3. Sunshine Bay Track

For another perspective of Queenstown’s spectacular lake and mountain scenery, head out towards Glenorchy on the Sunshine Bay Track.

Starting near the Fernhill roundabout, a 20-minute walk from central Queenstown, the trail winds through native bush, following the edge of Lake Whakatipu to Sunshine Bay Beach jetty. There’s also a side-track that leads to a waterfall at Two Mile Creek Falls.

  • Length: 4km return
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Start: Fernhill roundabout or Sunshine Bay Beach
  • Difficulty: Easy-moderate

Sunshine Bay Track in SpringSunshine Bay Track in spring

4. Queenstown Hill Time Walk

Test your legs on the Queenstown Hill Time Walk with a climb to the Basket of Dreams sculpture by Caroline Robinson. 

The majority of the ascent is under the cover of a pine forest. Listen for the native birdsong and wind making its way through the tall trees as it leads you to the summit. 

This is a favourite local lookout spot, offering 360-degree panoramic views over the Whakatipu basin to Cecil Peak, the Frankton Arm and Queenstown Bay. With the Southern Alps stretching as far as the eye can see, hiking for sunset will not disappoint.

  • Length: 2km one-way
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Start: Belfast Street, downtown Queenstown
  • Difficulty: Moderate
People at the top of Queenstown Hill overlooking town and view of Whakatipu lake and mountainsLooking over Lake Whakatipu from Queenstown Hill

5. Tiki Trail

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

Choose to hike back to Queenstown. Or, if the climb has gotten the better of you, sit back, relax and catch a ride in the Skyline Gondola.

  • Length: 2.1km one-way
  • Time: 1 hr
  • Start: Base of the Skyline Gondola
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Views through trees along the Tiki Trail of the Remarkables and QueenstownTiki Trail view. Credit @happy_hiking_au

6. Ben Lomond Track

Ben Lomond will greet you from the moment you arrive in town. Not for the faint-hearted or inexperienced, this demanding climb is a full-day mission with a spectacular reward. 

The Tiki Trail is just your warm-up before tackling the Ben Lomond Track to either the saddle or the summit (or, skip the warm-up and take the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak!).

Either way, at 800 m you'll start the walk amongst the alpine tussock and shrubs on the way to the Ben Lomond saddle at 1326 m. Then, it’s a steep uphill mission to the 1748 m summit. With 360-degree views over Queenstown, Mt Earnslaw and Mt Aspiring, all your effort will be well worth it.  

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

  • Length: 11km return
  • Time: 3-4 hours to Ben Lomond Saddle, 6-8 hours to Ben Lomond Summit
  • Start: Base of Skyline Gondola if walking the Tiki Trail, or top of Skyline Gondola.
  • Difficulty: Demanding

Ben Lomond HikingFriends hiking Ben Lomond in summer

7. 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 reeds, mountains and lakefront houses are just magic. 

Stroll, run, walk or cycle around this beautiful lake with panoramic views of the Remarkables. It’s the perfect half-day activity to really connect with nature. 

During your leisurely walk, you will pass through the Lake Hayes wetlands, keep your eye out for the unique endemic birdlife including Paradise Shelducks, Grey Ducks and the Marsh Crake.

  • Length: 8km loop
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Start: Lake Hayes Pavilion or Lake Hayes Picnic Area
  • Difficulty: Easy
People walking the Lake Hayes loop track surorunded by trees with a view of lake and mountains in the background
Lake Hayes loop track views in spring

8. Arrow River Trail

Starting in historic Arrowtown, a walk along the Arrow River Trail is a must-do for any visitor to Queenstown. 

The track will have you filling your camera memory, especially in autumn due to the explosion of colours on the trees.

The Arrow River Trail starts to the west of Arrowtown and follows a  large irrigation pipeline along the river, past the turnoff to Sawpit Gully, and to the Norman Smith footbridge that leads to Macetown 15km away. 

From here, you can cross the bridge and walk back along the riverside (there are some river crossings along the way) or go back the way you came.

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, discover the region’s history or grab a pint in the sunshine.

  • Length: 4.2km return
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Start: Butler's Green, Arrowtown
  • Difficulty: Easy

Gold panning in the Arrow River in AutumnArrow River Trail in Autumn

9. Tobin’s Track

Tobin’s Track is a relatively quick hike up to the edge of the Crown Terrace above Arrowtown. Join the locals who use it as a workout challenge by running or cycling up it. Check out the remains of the old family cottage of Thomas Tobin on your left on the way up.

From the top, you’ll get a bird's eye view of Arrowtown’s grid of streets nestled into the crook of two mountain ranges. You'll see Lake Hayes to the south as well as 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 glimmer over the Whakatipu Basin.

  • Length: 6.6km return
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • Start: Ford Street, Arrowtown
  • Difficulty: Moderate

View from Tobin's Track of green valley with mountains in the distanceTobin's Track, Arrowtown

10. Sawpit Gully Trail

Re-connect with yourself in the unique, ever-changing landscape on the Sawpit Gully Trail in Arrowtown

This two to three-hour loop leaves from the carpark near the Chinese Settlement in Arrowtown. You'll take the Arrow River Trail from Bush Creek and loop your way around first with a steady climb up along the rim of the gully.

Then, head down to the trickling stream for a series of back-and-forth creek crossings (wear waterproof shoes), and up again to be rewarded with views of Lake Hayes, the Remarkables and Queenstown Hill in the distance. It’s all downhill from here as you loop around back to Arrowtown along Bush Creek.

  • Length: 7.9km loop
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Start: The carpark near the Chinese Settlement in Arrowtown
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Woman hiking Sawpit Gully, ArrowtownSawpit Gully Trail, Arrowtown. Credit @grace.underhill 

With so many options for short, beautiful walks here in Queenstown, you are truly spoilt for choice.

More ways to connect with nature in Queenstown

Why not head out to a beautiful location, get your hands dirty and enjoy a morning connecting with locals at a community planting day?

You'll learn about New Zealand native plants and play an important role in helping to restore the biodiversity of the Whakatipu – find opportunities to volunteer in Queenstown here.

As you immerse yourself in Queenstown's spectacular landscapes, share your experiences with us on Instagram by tagging #QueenstownLive.