Queenstown is a dream destination for a hiking holiday. There are short walks, day hikes and we're 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 is 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 want to enjoy a challenging hike in wild New Zealand backcountry, Queenstown is the ultimate hiking holiday destination.
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 32km Routeburn Track weaves through meadows and alpine gardens, past shimmering tarns. Then there’s the iconic 53.5km 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 challenge, Queenstown has a number of easily accessible day walks. The steep but scenic Tiki Trail to Ben Lomond Summit (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. 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. Turquoise, glacier-fed lakes? Check. Dramatic mountains? Check.
It’s no secret that Queenstown and its surrounds are 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 pīwakawaka on most day walks. In more mountainous terrain, you might meet a kea, or glimpse the rare, golf-ball-sized rock wren.
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. For videos and more detailed information on New Zealand walking and hiking tracks, visit Plan My Walk.
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 are 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 is 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. Finish off your legs mountain biking at one of our bike parks, or simply enjoy a rejuvenating dip in the icy waters of Lake Whakatipu.
A relaxing spa or massage treatment is another great way to relax after a hike, too. There are plenty of hot pools and massage therapists in the area which will have you ready to tackle your next trail in no time.
Of course, there are 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) here.
For a hiking destination that has it all: access to the tracks, great dining and other experiences look no further than Queenstown.
Tread lightly while hiking in Queenstown
We encourage you to look after our wild spaces while you're out 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.