Whether you’re brand new to mountain biking or are an advanced rider looking to get your blood pumping, there’s something to suit every level. With everything from flow and technical single trail to incredible heli biking adventures, there are enough options around Queenstown to keep you entertained for weeks.
The convenience of hitting trails in Queenstown means you can just focus on riding, as accessing the tracks is the easy part. There are plenty of options available for shuttle pick ups and drop offs, no matter where the track takes you, or better yet, get a ride up in a helicopter.
Southern Lakes Heli Biking
To start out
Twelve Mile to Bob’s Cove
For a cruisy ride through beech forest with incredible views of Lake Wakatipu and Cecil Peak, this trail is 20km return and should take about 1-2 hours. It’s perfect for beginners or intermediate riders looking for a mellow ride. Take a picnic for the beach at Bob’s Cove, or if you’re game, go for a dip.
Moke Lake Loop
This is an awesome 21km loop ride that’ll have you feeling like you’re in the middle of Europe, when you’re 10 minutes drive from town. It’s not super technical or difficult, but will give you adventure feels for sure.
From the 7 Mile carpark, head up Gold Digger before it meets the last part of the sealed road to Moke Lake. Follow the unsealed road up and over the saddle down to Moke Lake, which is the perfect place to stop for a picnic.
Go through the campground and follow the single track around the lake, over several styles and through farmland before a rocky descent down past Lake Dispute. As you follow a 4-wheel drive track further down, keep an eye out for the Phoenix trail which drops off to the left for a sweet flowy downhill down to 7 Mile Scenic Reserve Bike Park, an awesome cross country trail network, built by the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club (QMTBC). The Moke Lake loop takes around 2 hours or extend your ride by adding in some laps at 7 Mile.
Biking around Moke Lake
Arthur's Point - Moonlight Trail – Ben Lomond
The Moonlight Track is the ultimate backcountry riding experience, but it does require a bit more skill. It’s one of the bigger backcountry loops around Queenstown, offering about 5 hours of undulating riding. Anyone can do it, but you just need to be cautious of exposed sections where you need to walk - there are some steep drop offs that you don’t want to catch you off guard. The point-to-point trail starts off as a single track traversing from McChesney Road along Arthur’s Point, up towards Ben Lomond and Moke Lake.
This stunning trail follows water races, sheep tracks and old gold mining routes with sweeping views down Skippers Canyon. From Moke Lake you can follow the trail around and down Phoenix ending Wilson Bay and 7 Mile Scenic Reserve Bike Park, or to add another element try taking the route over Ben Lomond saddle, descending Missing Link into the Queenstown Bike Park. Shuttle from any of the points back to your car or town.
Riding the Moonlight Track
There are some epic trails around Coronet Peak for seasoned mountain bike riders. Ride the XC trail from the base building up the learners slope to the peak, then ride the downhill to the base.
If you’re keen for some more action, incorporate this into a 2.5 - 3 hour loop with Rude Rock, Zoot and the Skippers Pack track. From the Coronet base building, drop into the 3km single track Rude Rock Trail. Rude Rock is fast and open, and will take you on a ride down tussocky mountainside. From part way down, take the Pack Sack and Track trail, which is slightly more exposed and technical than Rude Rock, that’ll link you up with the Skipper’s Pack Track.
From the bottom pedal back up to the Saddle, where the short, sweet and fast Zoot track starts. Finish up back at the Saddle. Best done either with two cars (leaving one at Coronet Base and one at the Saddle) or getting a drop off and pick up from one of the friendly bike taxi providers in town.
Skippers is a local favourite, for good reason. The Skippers Pack Track is a 4km single track ride that drops down from Skippers Saddle, following an old mining horse trail through a gully to the Shotover River. It’s narrow but not overly technical, and meets up with Skippers Road at the end. You have a few options here: climb the six kilometres (about an hour) back to the Saddle, get a shuttle back up and conserve your energy for another downhill, or mission it 15km down the gravel road to the ghost town of Skippers. This last one is steep and undulating with a fair bit of exposure, but the landscape is unbeatable.
If you do the full Skippers old town side-mission, your round trip back up to the Saddle will be 34km (and a solid slog), and if you ride straight back up Skippers Road to the Saddle it’ll be 10km.
The turn off to Skippers Canyon is about half way up Coronet Peak road. Take the turn off and drive or pedal 500m to Skippers Saddle where you’ll see the start of the track to the right after the cattle stop. You can park or get shuttled in and out of here by friendly local bike taxis.
Bush Creek trail, Arrowtown
Coronet Peak to Arrowtown
There are a few options for linking up Coronet Peak with Arrowtown. One of them is to ride the Coronet Face Water Race from Coronet Peak Road and drop onto the brand new Hot Rod track (an extension of Rude Rock) which is flowy, fun and accessible - it’s as fast as you want to make it. Hot Rod takes you all the way to the valley floor, and from the bottom, pedal back up the Dan O’Connell climb to link back up with the Water Race track where you can continue to the Bush Creek track and pop out in Arrowtown. If you’re keen to go from the top, pedal or drive up to the Coronet Peak base building, jump on Rude Rock and enjoy double the ride.
Advanced riders can take the Corotown (Slip Saddle) trail from 1.5km up the Coronet XC track. Expect steep chutes, a wide single track rut, native bush and river crossings. It’s 15kms, taking you down 3500 vertical feet - fast. Connect up with the Bush Creek track which will take you all the way to Arrowtown for a well-deserved drink, before catching a ride in the shuttle back to Coronet Peak.
HeliBikeNZ - Crown Peak
With exclusive access to high alpine backcountry trails, heli-biking is the ultimate adventure. There are options for both intermediate and expert, and best-suited to those hungry for the backcountry. There are a whole bunch of trips available through local tour operators like HeliBike NZ and Mountainhut.nz, so we’ve picked out a few to whet your appetite.
The bump up to the top of Crown Peak will have you drinking in massive views of Queenstown and out to Wanaka, as you get ready to smash the downhill (of which you have two choices).
For intermediate riders, there are rough 4x4 tracks to tackle, whilst the more advanced rider will drop in through high narrow ridgelines and head ‘off-piste’ on tussock. The two meet back up to drop off Crown Terrace and down to Arrowtown.
For the best views in town that’ll charge you up for your descent, take on New Zealand’s highest mountain biking. Get dropped at 1800m in the Remarkables Ranges, then take off down 15km of rock garden trails and open alpine tundra, only experienced at high altitude. There are options for both intermediate and expert, and for the really hardcore, there’s the option to go higher for some super technical rock garden work.
This is an epic single track that was handbuilt by gold miners. Let your imagination take you back in time as you follow their tracks - if you’re not too busy stoking on the views and the speed. Check out the old gold mining town of Macetown and catch your breath, before you meet up with the 4x4 track to descend into Arrowtown.
Get dropped in Whakaari Conservation area, the glorious mountain tops above Glenorchy, and ride all the way down to the valley floor. The tracks are old Scheelite miners routes passing historic huts and water races, and you can ride them down from Black Peak or Mt McIntosh - with a spectacular backdrop. These tours are run by Mountainhut.nz, who offer the option to stay overnight at their hut high on Mt Larkins.