Queenstown is a dream destination for a hiking holiday. There’s short walks, day hikes and it’s conveniently close to three of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Whatever your fitness level and appetite for walking, there’s a trail for you here.
Walking holidays in New Zealand’s South Island offer dramatic scenery, varied terrain and a chance to glimpse rare wildlife. Queenstown’s a well-established hub for hikers and walkers of all abilities, with access to some of New Zealand’s best walking tracks.
Whether you want to meet new people on a guided walk, or enjoy a challenging hike in wild, raw New Zealand backcountry, Queenstown is the ultimate hiking holiday destination.
Find more hiking trails than you can shake a carbon fibre hiking pole at
Trails for all occasions (and abilities) can be accessed easily from Queenstown.
Three of New Zealand’s Great Walks are located nearby, and Queenstown's range of different transport providers and guided options make it a fantastic and convenient jumping-off point to access these spectacular hikes. The 60km Kepler Track climbs rocky mountains, winds through deep gorges and alongside rare wetlands. The world-famous Routeburn Track weaves through meadows and alpine gardens, past shimmering tarns. Then there’s the iconic Milford Track, with views of pristine lakes, mighty mountain tops and the country’s tallest waterfall.
If you don't have multiple days to spare but are after a bit of a challenge, Queenstown has a number of stunning day walks that promise to challenge and reward. The steep but scenic Tiki Trail to Ben Lomond Summit (a great place to spot kea, 6 hours one way) and the golden-tussock-clad Moonlight Track (5 hours one way) both take you to remote areas of the region, rewarding you with spectacular views of the unique alpine landscape.
For something a little more easy-going try the Mt Crichton Loop Track; this area was once home to Sam Summers, one of the region’s last hut-dwelling gold miners. Or take a scenic drive further down the lake to Glenorchy which is full of off-the-beaten-track hiking trails for the intrepid tent-owner. Sleep in the shadows of an icefall on Mt Pikirakatahi on the Earnslaw Burn Track (6 hours one way) or cosy up in a hut with great views on the Greenstone-Caples tracks (4–5 days).
All the views you could dream of
Access to National Parks? Check. Awe-inspiring waterfalls? Check. Deep, blue lakes? Check. Dramatic mountains? Check.
It’s no secret that Queenstown and its surrounds are chock-full of gorgeous landscapes and unusual wildlife. Just ask a local: there’s so much diversity in the region, you won’t get bored of hiking and walking here no matter how long you’ve lived here or how many times you’ve visited.
In summer, you’ll see the golden tussock Otago is known for (and there’s nothing like an icy cold dip in a secluded tarn on a hot summer’s day). In autumn, the landscape transforms into a sea of red and gold foliage.
You’ll be serenaded by tūī and pursued by piwakwaka on most day walks. In more mountainous terrain, you might meet a kea or three), or glimpse the rare, golf-ball-sized rock wren.
Top tip: the local Department of Conservation centre staff have loads of great suggestions, maps and information. They’ll also be able to let you know about any weather patterns or other potential hazards to be weary of. Because the terrain here is mountainous, the weather is changeable and it can quickly get cold, wet and snowy – even in summer.
Excellent services, hiking gear shops and transport options
Queenstown has a great range of services for those wanting to embark on a hiking adventure.
Car relocation services run between most of the Great Walks – meaning you can leave your car at one end of the track and it’ll be waiting for you at the other end of the track when you’ve finished. There’s also pick up and drop off services, so you’ll never need to worry about getting home after a long and rewarding hike.
A number of Queenstown-based companies operate guided hikes on the popular multi-day walks. These are becoming increasingly popular with those who want to meet like-minded individuals and don’t want to forgo a little luxury in the wilderness.
Specialist shops like Small Planet and Outside Sports have everything you need to make your walk more comfortable and efficient. The staff are usually hiking enthusiasts too – pop in for a pair of merino wool socks and you’ll walk out with your mind full of adventure inspiration.
Come for a hiking holiday, stay for all the other stuff
Queenstown’s in a class of its own when it comes to outdoor activities. If you’ve still got energy to burn after your hiking holiday, try a round of golf. If your shoulders aren’t burning from carrying your pack, try your hand(s) at Via Ferrata. Finish off your legs mountain biking at the Queenstown Bike Park, or simply enjoy a rejuvenating dip in the icy waters of Lake Wakatipu.
A relaxing spa or massage treatment is another great way to relax after a hike too. There's plenty of options in this area which will have you ready to tackle the next trail in no time.
Of course, there’s lots of great eateries to refuel and revive you too. From world-class restaurants to rustic country pubs and artisan breweries, you won’t go hungry (or thirsty). Most establishments are used to track-weary walkers and many don’t expect a formal dress code.
For a hiking hub that has it all: access to the tracks, great dining and other experiences, look no further.