Queenstown Round Trip (2-3 days, 120km)
The Queenstown Trail unveils close to 120km (including the trail’s loops) of spectacular cycle trail in Otago’s Wakatipu Basin.
The trail meanders through some of New Zealand’s most breathtaking scenery, taking in the Gibbston wine area, the historic gold-mining town of Arrowtown and the stunning landscapes of Lake Hayes, Frankton and Queenstown. Riders will enjoy discovering hidden ruins, amazing architecture and historic bridges.
There are plenty of reasons to stop along the way: for a cheeky wine tasting at a world-class vineyard, to savour first-rate food and coffee, or to take the plunge with a thrilling bungy jump at the Kawarau Bridge Bungy.
You can make your own way along the trail, or to get the most out of your Queenstown Trail experience, contact one of the local tour operators for advice. They have the local knowledge and resources to help plan and organise you and your bikes, including bike hire, transport and pick-ups and drop-offs anywhere along the trail.
Queenstown’s reputation as one of the world’s favourite adventure destinations is well deserved. Once you’ve finished your ride there is a wide range of other tourist attractions to entertain and invigorate you.
The Queenstown Trail is a joint initiative of the Queenstown Trails Trust, the Queenstown Lakes District Council, and the New Zealand Cycle Trail project.
LADY OF THE LAKE
Be mesmerised by the TSS Earnslaw, known as the ‘Lady of the Lake’, as she glides over Lake Wakatipu. She’s the last remaining coal-fired passenger vessel operating in the southern hemisphere and you can take a cruise and explore this elegant steamship, including the bridge and the engine room where stokers fuel the fireboxes.
Cruises can be combined with stops at Walter Peak High Country Farm, for a tour that includes hand feeding sheep and deer, sheep shearing and watching working dogs in action.
Queenstown’s dramatic landscapes and dynamic activities ensure its position as New Zealand’s premier winter alpine resort.
Its vibrant, compact town centre always puts on a show for visitors.
RIDING THE TRAIL
The Queenstown Trail offers something for everyone, whether you’ve got a couple of hours or a few days. There are plenty of great riding options and you can do as much as you want.
This is an Easy to Intermediate (Grades 2-3) cycle trail that connects the three hubs of Queenstown, Arrowtown and Gibbston.
The trail is well signposted and because you’re never more than 20 minutes or so from a main road, it’s very difficult to lose your way.
The trail can be ridden in sections to suit your ability or link it all together for a longer ride.
Here are some suggested itineraries for shorter rides:
LAKE HAYES LOOP, (GRADE 3 INTERMEDIATE) 8KM
This is one of the most scenic rides in the Wakatipu Basin, popular with walkers and cyclists. It circumnavigates Lake Hayes for 8km following a wide gravel trail.
Starting at the top from Rutherford Rd, an anti-clockwise direction is easier.
GIBBSTON RIVER TRAIL, (GRADE 2 EASY) 8.7KM
The Gibbston River Trail follows a relatively easy gradient alongside the Kawarau River providing access to wineries and historic archaeological sites.
This is a there-and-back ride starting at the Kawarau Bridge Bungy and ending at the Gibbston Back Rd – the return trip is 17km.
QUEENSTOWN TO ARROWTOWN, (GRADE 3 INTERMEDIATE) 24KM
The start/end of this 27km section of trail is the Memorial Gates on Queenstown’s waterfront and Manse Rd in Arrowtown.
This trail takes in the Shotover River, crossing the restored historic bridge and Millbrook Resort.
Riding from Queenstown, if you want to avoid some hill climbing, turn left when you get to Lower Shotover Rd and then right on to Speargrass Flat Rd. Look for the Millbrook trail sign just past the Slopehill Rd turn-off.
For a more challenging uphill ride, turn right when you get to Lower Shotover Rd then on to Slopehill Rd.
Note the Millbrook trail is smooth gravel but is steep in parts, so be prepared to push your bike in places.
The easier (more downhill) option is to ride from Arrowtown to Queenstown.
Queenstown is located in the southwest corner of the South Island of New Zealand.
Getting here is easy, as Queenstown International Airport is well served by domestic and international flights from major airlines. Daily domestic connections link Queenstown with New Zealand’s main centres: Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, while international routes are all to Australian centres.
Access by road is a wonderfully scenic option. You can drive yourself, take a bus or join a coach tour. Buses arrive in Queenstown daily from Glenorchy, Wanaka, Dunedin, Invercargill and Christchurch.
Roads to Queenstown are well signposted easily guiding visitors from each of the surrounding South Island regions.
Distances (and estimated driving times) to Queenstown:
From Christchurch – 480 km (6.5 hrs) From Dunedin – 283 km (3.5 hrs)
Once you’re here, you will find a good public bus network and plenty of transport and tour operators, happy to help you find your way around the trails.
We love layers here in Queenstown! While the trail never ventures too far from civilisation, remember that this is an alpine environment and the temperature can drop very quickly.
A cold snap can come from nowhere, even in the middle of summer, so always check the weather and go prepared with extra layers of clothing.
Take a small day-pack with clothing, a puncture repair kit, and torch (just in case).
Helmets are compulsory for all trail riders.
MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE: Most parts of this trail have coverage for the major mobile networks.
DRINKING WATER: Don’t forget your water bottle. Most local businesses will be happy for you to refill your drink bottle along the way. Plus you can buy food and beverages along the trail.
Queenstown is beautiful any time of the year, though spring and autumn are particularly picturesque and provide great biking temperatures with plenty of daylight hours.
Summer can be stunning too, but choose your riding day very carefully in winter.
Average daytime temperatures in Queenstown:
Spring (Sept-Nov) 8 – 22 C Summer (Dec-Mar) 20 – 30 C Autumn (Apr-May) 12 – 25 C Winter (Jun-Aug) -2 – 8 C