Queenstown has some of the best short walks in the South Island. All easily accessible, suitable for a range of fitness levels and offering magical views of jagged mountains, rivers and glistening lakes. It's the perfect place to tie up your shoe laces, breath in the fresh alpine air and sight-see on foot.

Here's our guide to some delightful short walks to get you started.


Easy Short Walks

Oxenbridge Tunnel Track, Arthurs Point

A short, easy walk to a viewpoint that overlooks the historic Oxenbridge Tunnel river diversion and an old steam engine. Built by the Oxenbridge brothers between 1906-1909 to divert the Shotover River so they could recover gold from the riverbed, the 170-metre tunnel marks the spot of what turned out to be a very expensive failed mining scheme.

  • Duration: Approx. 20 minutes return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: Turn left just before the Edith Cavell bridge on Arthurs Point.

Queenstown Gardens

You’ll forget you are in the town centre when you explore this small peninsula on the shoreline of Lake Whakatipu. Wander through the gorgeous selection of exotic and native plants at the Queenstown Gardens – or explore the gardens while playing a game of frisbee golf. For an extra challenge, try ice skating at the adjacent Queenstown Ice Arena, or continue to explore the town’s waterfront by heading towards Steamer Wharf and St Omer Park. Alternatively, head north at the Queenstown Gardens’ entrance by the Bathhouse and follow the Frankton Track, which in turn links to the Kelvin Peninsula Trail if you have time for a 16.4km one-way hike along Lake Whakatipu. 

  • Duration: Approx. 25 minutes return on a loop track
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: Next to Queenstown Bay Beach and off Park St.

Two people walking next to a lake in Queenstown Gardens in Autumn, surrounded by red and gold coloured treesQueenstown Gardens

Arrow River Trail

This predominantly flat track follows the Arrow Irrigation Pipeline for much of the way and provides lofty views over the Arrow River. About a quarter of the way along you’ll pass a waterfall where the Sawpit Gully flows into the Arrow River. For an extra challenge, take the turn off to the Sawpit Gully Trail, or simply retrace your steps back to Arrowtown to explore the shops and eateries. You can also start the trail at Bush Creek Recreation Reserve after wandering through the adjacent historic Chinese settlement.

  • Duration: Approx. 50 minutes return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: Start at the bridge from Butlers Green in Arrowtown.

Two people walking the Arrow River, ArrowtownArrow River, Arrowtown

Bob’s Cove Track and Nature Walk

This hidden gem takes you through native bush filled with bird life and dotted with pieces of pioneering history. The Picnic Point loop track offers incredible views over Lake Whakatipu, while the cove is a stunning and sheltered spot to take a dip in the lake’s turquoise waters. The track also links to Bob's Cove Bridle Track, the first bridle track to link Queenstown and Glenorchy, which in turn links to the Twelve Mile Delta Track – the location of Ithilien Camp for Lord of the Rings fans.

  • Duration: Approx. 1.5 hours return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: 15-minute drive from Queenstown on the Glenorchy-Queenstown Road.

Glenorchy Lagoon Walkway

Explore the ‘head’ of Lake Whakatipu on this boardwalk track that crosses wetlands filled with bird life and offers spectacular views of Mt Earnslaw/Pikirakatahi and the surrounding ranges. Follow the signs to the northern end of Glenorchy, near Lake Whakatipu on Mull St, where the track begins.

  • Duration: Approx. 1-2 hours return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: Glenorchy, 45-minute drive from Queenstown on the Glenorchy-Queenstown Road.

People walking the Glenorchy Lagoon WalkwayGlenorchy Lagoon Walkway

Kelvin Peninsula Trail & Sculpture Trail

Start at the historic Kawarau Falls Bridge or at the end of the peninsula on the fascinating Sculpture Trail, which provides sweeping views from the Remarkables across to Cecil and Walter Peaks as it winds around the Queenstown Golf Course and past four stunning sculptures. Finish your hike with refreshments at the golf club or continue south on the Jack’s Point Trail. If you choose to head back towards Frankton on the Kelvin Peninsula Walkway, take a refreshment break at the Hilton along the way or board a ferry for a faster route to the town centre.

  • Duration: Approx. 2 hours return plus optional 1.5-hour loop track
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: Kelvin Heights, Queenstown

Moke Lake Loop Track

Surrounded by towering mountains, this track takes you right around the picturesque Moke Lake and through gently rolling grasslands. A short boardwalk at the southern end takes you over a small wetland. The turnoff to Moke Lake takes you up a steep and windy road, past the smaller Lake Kirkpatrick, and onto the Moke Lake Reserve, where you can start the track.

  • Duration: Approx. 2-3 hours return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: 15-minute drive from Queenstown along Glenorchy-Queenstown Rd.

Two people walking Moke Lake Loop Track with lake and mountains in viewMoke Lake Loop Track

Lake Hayes Walkway

Known as the ‘mirror lake’ the stunning mountains surrounding Lake Hayes are often beautifully reflected in its waters. Named Te Whaka-ata a Haki-te-kura by Maori, in honour of a beautiful woman whose image is also said to be reflected in the waters, this is a truly inspiring loop walk around the lake.

  • Duration: Approx. 2-3 hours on a loop track around the lakeside.
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: Multiple access points to this walkway include the Lake Hayes Pavilion and Show Grounds on State Highway 6, Bendemeer Bay, Arrowtown Road and Rutherford Road off Speargrass Flat Road.

Arawata Bridle Track

Part of the original bridle trail from Queenstown to Glenorchy, this track offers lovely views of Lake Whakatipu and passes interesting rock formations – often scaled by rock climbers. The track starts on the bend of Arawata Terrace in Sunshine Bay and ends near 5 Mile Creek on the Glenorchy- Queenstown Road.

  • Duration: Approx. 3 hours return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: 10-minute drive from Queenstown on the Glenorchy-Queenstown Road.

Intermediate Short Walks

Tobin’s Track

This uphill track is sure to get your lungs pumping, but the views along the way are worth every breath. Built by Thomas Tobin in the 1870s to create a faster route to the Crown Terrace and Wanaka, this track presents incredible views of Arrowtown and its surroundings. On the way up, keep an eye out on your left for the remains of the Tobin family’s cottage, now surrounded by vegetation. About halfway up you’ll also spot the entrance to the New Chum Track. At the top of Tobin’s Track there’s a trig station plus seating to help you catch your breath as you enjoy the views.

  • Duration: Approx. 1 hour return
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Location: Arrowtown, at the end of Ford Street (off Centennial Avenue and Bedford Street corner). Once there, cross a bridge over the Arrow River and follow the track up the hill.

People people standing at the top of Tobin's Track looking out over a green valley and mountainTobin's Track Summit

New Chum Track, Arrowtown

New Chum track is a good off-the-beaten track, which heads uphill through scrub land and offers great views of the surrounding mountains and Lake Hayes. If you choose to warm up on the short but steep Tobin’s Track, look out for an orange marker and a gate indicating the start of New Chum Track about half way up. Follow the orange markers along the ridgeline of Glencoe Station, before descending into gullies and streams. At the other end, simply follow the Arrow River Trail back to the town centre.

  • Duration: Approx. 1.5 hours return
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Location: Arrowtown, start at the Norman Smith Bridge on the Macetown trail or join it half way up along Tobin’s Track.

Sawpit Gully Trail, Arrowtown

This historic Arrowtown trail comes complete with diverse scenery and spectacular views but keep an eye on the track markers to avoid crossing onto private land. The Sawpit Gully trail follows parts of a water race where you can see piles of mining tailings down near the creek. Native landscape ranges from beech forest pockets to tussock-covered slopes interspersed with prickly matagouri and sharp speargrass. Look out for the remains of an old stone hut on a grassy terrace just before you begin to climb out of Sawpit Gully. When you reach the top of the hill, you’ll be able to enjoy those spectacular views over Arrowtown, Lake Hayes and the Remarkables with Queenstown Hill in the distance.

  • Duration: Approx. 2-3 hours return on a loop track
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Location: Arrowtown, follow the Arrow River Trail high above the river then take the turn off to Sawpit Gully.

Queenstown Hill Walking Track

This track is one of the most accessible and popular walks in Queenstown. Get those legs working while enjoying amazing views over the Whakatipu basin. Another drawcard is the beautiful sculpture Basket of Dreams by Caroline Robinson. Push yourself a little further to appreciate an even better view just 0.5km further up the Queenstown Hill walkway.

  • Duration: Approx. 2-3 hours return
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Location: The track starts and finishes on Belfast Street.

View of mountains and lake from Queenstown Hill SummitQueenstown Hill Summit

Mt Crichton Loop Track

*Mount Crichton track is currently closed due to storm damage. Check the latest DoC track conditions before heading out.

Follow along the Twelve Mile Creek through native trees and remnants of Queenstown’s gold mining history. The track offers views of Lakes Dispute and Whakatipu, as well as a beautiful waterfall, and links to the Lake Dispute Track. Don’t miss the opportunity to step inside Sam Summers’ Hut, built by Sam and two of his nine brothers in the 1930s. Sam lived there for ten years while he prospected for gold and foraged for food, and the well-maintained hut continues to offer visitors shelter.

  • Duration: Approx. 2.5 hours return
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Location: 15-minute drive from Queenstown along the Glenorchy-Queenstown Road.

Advanced Short Walks

Lake Alta Track, Remarkables

Discover this picturesque glacial lake at the top of the Remarkables complete with a bird’s-eye-view views over Queenstown and Lake Whakatipu right from the moment you drive up the mountain, through to the walk up to the lake, and all the way back again. Cairns and flagstones mark your way through alpine wetlands up to the lake.

  • Duration: Approx. 1.5 hours return
  • Difficulty: Advanced
  • Location: The track starts by the ski field buildings at the Remarkables ski field, south of Queenstown on State Highway 6.

Shirt Tail Track, Kingston

This challenging uphill track follows the well-marked trail alongside Shirt Tail Stream through red beech forest and subalpine shrublands and past a waterfall to the bushline for a panoramic view of Lake Wakatipu and the Kingston township. The Te Kere Haka Reserve is at the far end of the township past the railway station.

  • Duration: Approx. 2 hours return
  • Difficulty: Advanced
  • Location: Kingston, at the Te Kere Haka reserve carpark, a 45-minute drive from Queenstown.

Mountain and lake view from Shirt Tail Track, Kingston.View from Shirt Tail Track, Kingston. Credit @freedom72life