Hundreds of kilometres of walking trails crisscross the landscape, offering endless options ranging from lakeside ambles to hardcore multi-day hikes through World Heritage wilderness.
Whether you fancy a relaxing stroll to work an appetite up for dinner, or you’re keen to immerse yourself in remote southern backcountry, Queenstown has accessible walking tracks for all ages and abilities. Here is a taster of the walks on offer to whet your hiking appetite.
Numerous short Queenstown walking tracks start downtown, including a scenic stroll around Queenstown Gardens on the small peninsula overlooking Lake Whakatipu. Another easily accessible highlight is the more strenuous climb up Queenstown Hill, with a pay-off of panoramic views of the lake, Cecil Peak, the Remarkables and more.
Many more short but memorable walks can be found within a half-hour drive, including the amble around Arrowtown’s Chinese Settlement reimaging life during the gold rush, and the undulating path around Lake Hayes ringed by mountain vistas. Wine lovers can explore ruggedly handsome Gibbston on foot, visiting cellar door tasting rooms and recharging with a vineyard lunch.
On the way to Glenorchy is the turn-off to Moke Lake, a hidden gem nestled among tussocky peaks. The Moke Lake Loop Track here circumnavigates the serene lake, with options to extend the outing by heading south towards Lake Whakatipu or further into the backcountry via the Moonlight Track.
If you’ve only got a few hours between adventures, but you’d like to stretch your legs and take in some stunning alpine scenery, check out our guide to short walks in Queenstown.
A day hike is one of the best ways to explore Queenstown’s spectacular scenery.
For a relaxing day out, hit the leisurely Lakeside Trail tracing the Frankton Arm around to Kelvin Heights before joining up with the Jack’s Point track. This popular option serves up non-stop lake and mountain views along with several tasty refreshment stops.
If you’re looking for more of a challenge, on fine days, the all-day return walk to the summit of Ben Lomond (1748m) reveals epic scenes stretching into Mount Aspiring National Park. The Skyline gondola offers an exciting shortcut to Bob’s Peak, shaving a couple of hours or so off the outing. Regardless of whether you shorten your journey with the gondola or decide to hike the full track unassisted, Ben Lomond is a challenging track in an alpine environment so there are a few things to know before you go.
If you're after a variety of short and long trails, a day could easily be spent hiking around Arrowtown, starting with the historic Sawpit Gully circuit followed by the easier, cross-country wander to the historic Shotover Bridge.
Find out more with our guide to day hikes in and around Queenstown.
Multi-day walks & hikes
Queenstown makes a great base for the multi-day hikes in the World Heritage Areas of Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Park. Highlights include the Greenstone Caples and Hollyford Tracks. Staying in communal DOC huts set in spectacular locations along the trails is an unforgettable part of the New Zealand hiking experience.
Walkers need to be fully equipped, self-sufficient and capable of carrying a heavy pack for several hours a day. If this sounds a little outside your comfort zone, fully guided options are available, where your load is lessened to a daypack, and comfy lodgings come complete with hot, hearty meals.
Three Great Walks near Queenstown
Three of New Zealand’s celebrated Great Walks start near Queenstown, the Milford Track, the Kepler Track, and the Routeburn. The Great Walks are New Zealand’s best hikes, awe-inspiring adventures on tracks through pristine wilderness.
Choose your track and plan your Great Walk adventure with this comprehensive guide to hiking Queenstown's three Great Walks
Guided walks & heli-hikes
Guided walks are ideal if you enjoy exploring with a knowledgeable local expert, or if you want the security of knowing that you’re hiking with a guide who knows how to navigate challenging alpine terrain and changeable weather safely. Explore your options for guided walks near Queenstown with our friendly local guides.
With a stunning scenic flight and fascinating local insights as part of the deal, heli-hikes are the ultimate way of getting off the beaten track. Popular options include Middle-earth themed trips with snow landings, and Earnslaw Burn – a spectacular alpine basin decorated with multiple waterfalls and a hanging glacier.
Heli-hikes can also be combined with winery visits, 4WD tours, fly-fishing adventures, and overnight stays in remote lodges. All tastes and levels of fitness are catered for.
Be prepared for alpine hiking conditions
Despite their close proximity to civilisation, many of the day-walks around Queenstown are in rugged terrain, crossing rivers or streams and following steep tracks with precipitous drop-offs. Sturdy shoes or proper hiking boots are generally required, as is appropriate clothing for the conditions. The weather can deteriorate very quickly, especially in the mountains. Read the New Zealand Outdoor Safety Code to prepare for any trip into the backcountry.
Many of the more challenging walks are maintained by the Department of Conservation (DOC). Visitor centre staff can help choose the right walk or hike for you and advise on track conditions, weather forecasts, guided trips and transport services. The Queenstown DOC office is on ground level at 50 Stanley Street.