Hundreds of kilometres of walking trails crisscross Queenstown's landscape, offering endless options to stretch your legs and soak up the views. From short walks to day walks to multi-day Great Walks, 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 close-to-town highlight is the more strenuous climb up Queenstown Hill, with a pay-off of panoramic views of the lake, Cecil Peak, the Remarkables and surrounds.
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 Jack’s Point track. This popular option serves up non-stop lake and mountain views along with several tasty refreshment stops.
If you’re an experienced hiker 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 multi-day hikes in the World Heritage Areas of Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Park. Highlights include the Greenstone and Caples, Rees-Dart 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.
Plan your Great Walk adventure with this comprehensive guide to hiking the three Great Walks near Queenstown.
Guided walks near Queenstown
Guided walks are an ideal way of exploring the stunning natural beauty of the region with the help of a knowledgeable and experienced guide. These hikes range in difficulty and duration, so there is something for everyone, whether you are an experienced hiker or a beginner. Guided hikes provide a safe and enjoyable way to experience the outdoors and learn about the local flora and fauna, as well as the history and culture of the area.
Ben Lomond Summit with Skyline Guided Walks
Tread lightly while walking in Queenstown
We encourage you to look after our wild spaces while you're out walking or hiking so that they can continue to be enjoyed by generations still to come.
While you’re hiking in Queenstown, minimise your impact by respecting people, wildlife and places – check out these handy Tiaki tips for treading lightly during your Queenstown trip.
You can help protect Queenstown's landscape by donating to Love Queenstown, a local community fund that supports our region's climate, conservation and biodiversity projects that actually make an impact.
Glenorchy Lagoon Walkway
Be prepared for alpine hiking conditions
Despite their close proximity to Queenstown, many of the day walks in our region are in remote, rugged terrain and involve crossing rivers or 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 and visit Plan My Walk 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 Department of Conservation Whakatipu-wai-Māori Queenstown Visitor Centre is handily located in downtown Queenstown.