Starting out is easy. Queenstown is home to many friendly bike shops ready to get you in the saddle. They’ll give you the lowdown on the where to ride, and kit you out with the right equipment including high-spec hire bikes: lightweight, hard-tails for cruisy, cross-country rides; and full-suspension bikes suited to rougher terrain and downhill trails. Bring it on!
Not feeling quite so confident? Experienced local guides run a range of trips packed with hot riding tips, with coaching available for those wishing to take it to the next level. Shuttles transport riders and bikes to trails spread throughout the region, so all you need to bring is suitable clothing and a sense of adventure.
To get into the groove, head out on the Queenstown Trail – more than 130km of themed, off-road rides linking downtown Queenstown with Frankton, Arrowtown and Gibbston. Graded easy to intermediate, they offer an unbeatable combination of fun riding, famous attractions and spectacular scenery.
A good option for beginners is the 15km Lakeside Track that skirts around Queenstown Gardens before following the Frankton Arm lakeshore to Kelvin Heights. Further afield, the Arrow River Bridges Trail winds from irresistibly cute Arrowtown to wine-soaked Gibbston with wide, Wakatipu Basin vistas for most of the way.
When you’re ready to wind things up a bit, hit the trails of the Queenstown MTB Park, a dedicated downhill park accessed by the Skyline Gondola. Get your bike hitched on, cruise 500 metres up Bob’s Peak, then go with the flow down some of the 30km of awesome trails on offer.
The park’s easiest and longest track is Hammy’s, which twists for 6km through exotic forest with views across Lake Wakatipu to Cecil Peak and the Remarkables. The wide surface, mellow gradient and smooth berms are custom-made for honing off-road skills.
Hidden away in the mountains west of Queenstown, Moke Lake is another good place to try cross-country riding. A serene spot for picnicking and swimming, surrounded by golden, tussocky peaks, the lake is circumnavigated via an undulating track across grassland and boardwalk. A ride around Moke Lake can be combined with a spin around 7 Mile Bike Park a great training ground for beginner and intermediate riders wanting to upskill on a variety of loop-trails with natural obstacles and manmade structures.
During the summer months, Cardrona Alpine Resort keeps two of its chairlifts cranking to access to some of New Zealand’s highest and longest downhills complete with breathtaking Southern Alps scenery. Situated between Queenstown and Wanaka, its bike school offers tuition to get beginners riding the laidback sweeps of A Real Journey, the park’s longest trail.
Once you've got a little more experience under your belt it could be time to try out mountain biking at Coronet Peak. Coronet Peak opened for its first summer season at the start of December 2019. Starting at the top of the Coronet Express chairlift, their trails boast breathtaking alpine views and are ideal for experienced riders with a range of intermediate-expert, lift accessed biking trails. A range of passes are available with full day, sunset or season passes on offer.