Winter in Queenstown doesn’t just mean skiing up the mountains and curling up by the fire. There are still adventures to be had on the Queenstown trail network on two feet or on two wheels.
From short afternoon trails, to longer missions, there’s something for everyone. Our suggestion? Ski in the morning; walk/bike the trails in the afternoon. If you’ve got enough beans, head back up the mountain for night ski and have yourself a full day of multisport adventure! Read our top 5 trails to hit this winter!
Queenstown to Jacks Point
Go for a ride on the sunny side! This 26km winter trail takes you along the Frankton Track and over the Kawarau Falls Bridge to the sunny Kelvin Peninsula trail. You’ll not be able to miss the Remarkables towering over you as you pedal over the bridge – the snowcapped peaks are pretty spectacular. If you’re setting out in the morning, the Hilton Kawarau is a pretty special place to park your bike for a morning coffee, with views out over the sparkling lake. You’ll continue meandering your way along the trail, round corners and bends – watching out for regular trail goers out on their morning walk – until you reach the magical woodland at the end of the peninsula. Look out for some funky art work and sculptures, created by local artists. Past the woodland, and the world’s most scenic golf course, Queenstown Golf Club, you’ll head over to Jardine Park to follow the trail to Jack’s Point.
With completely unspoiled views over the lake and up to the Remarkable Mountains above, you’ll feel far away from the hubbub of Queenstown and is the ideal trail for getting off the beaten path. This part of the trail is a little more challenging, with a few more steep climbs (Grade 4). Arriving at Jack’s Point is a well-earned reward. Be sure to stop and find the Jack's Point Clubhouse for a well-earned coffee or indulge in a superb long lunch (with a well matched wine list) and arrange transport back to your start point.
Lake Hayes Trail
If you’ve earned your turns up the mountain in the morning, this is a magical trail to run, bike or walk in the afternoon. This relaxing 8km loop is the perfect way to unwind, catch up with friends, burn off the kids’ energy and soak up some winter Vitamin D. In the afternoon, the sun hits the eastern side of the lake so you’ll feel the warmth of the sun for at least half of the trail. Even on the shady side of the lake the views of the reflected mountains and landscape are a great distraction. Allow yourself a couple of hours if you’re walking. Looking for a great post walk après ski? Carry on into Arrowtown and head to the Fork & Tap Alehouse or The Hayes in Lake Hayes Estate.
Arrowtown to Gibbston
There are heaps of track transport operators in Queenstown, providing bike hire drop off and pick up, so if you’re visiting and fancy yourself a ride to some wineries (and want to feel like you’ve earned it) head to some of our bike hire trail partners. If you’re in Arrowtown, head over to Better by Bike at the historic Dudley’s Cottage, located right next to the trail head and begin your journey to the vines. This is a stunning trail on a winter’s day as you ride along the babbling Arrow River. This is a popular spot for walkers and runners and always has a great buzz to it. You’ll continue out of Arrowtown, riding past snowy paddocks, gorges and quaint cottages crossing the awesome Southern Discoveries Bridge, the Knights Family Bridge and before long the incredible 80m Edgar Suspension bridge. Be sure to stop at the Wall of Recognition and offer up a 'thanks' to the landowners and Queenstown community who had the vision to help make the Queenstown Trail a reality.
The trail carries on under SH6 via the Barfoot Tunnel and onto an old part of the goldminer’s road into Queenstown, before rounding the corner to the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge. A spectacular site to see, this historic bridge is home to the world’s first commercial bungy jumping operation. The AJ Hackett Bungy Centre has a great little café if you’re stopping here, but if you’re pedaling on to the wineries they’re not far to go. A perfect spot to stop and warm up for lunch is Gibbston Valley Winery. Continuing on through the valley, with the Kawarau river running down to your left, there will be vista after vista as your journey takes you through dramatic wine country. If you’re staying a while, Kinross has the coziest cottages on site for your stay – don’t forget to book in a soak in the hot tub! If you’ve got transport organized to pick you up, settle in with a sumptuous Pinot Noir and await your chariot.
Queenstown to Arrowtown
If you’re starting from Queenstown and are looking for a winter mission, with guaranteed hot choc or mulled wine at the end of it, this is the trail for you. Starting in the Queenstown gardens, you’ll head out on the Frankton track and towards Frankton Marina. You’ll cross under the Kawarau Falls Bridge before the trail starts running alongside the Kawarau along the Twin Rivers Trail. A fun descent brings you down to the riverside before the trail turns and starts running along the Shotover River. Low morning cloud makes for a sometimes moody ride along here. The river is used by K Jet and their jet boat trips so make sure you give them a wave if they pass by! The trail eventually climbs up to meet the historic Old Lower Shotover Bridge which is a sight to behold. This beautiful bridge features in the Queenstown Marathon and is the perfect stopping point to take in the views up to Coronet Peak and the Remarkables either side.
The trail carries on through Shotover Country and continues following the Kawarau River as it moves on towards the gorge. This is where you’ll seriously warm up as the trail starts to climb up, up and away from the river up Thompson’s Hill. The views are ever more spectacular as you climb, but you know what they say, what goes up…must come down, and it’s a fun descent down the recently revamped section of the trail. You’ll continue winding up and down as you head towards Morven Ferry Road and the stretch towards Arrowtown. This section of trail gets some beautiful afternoon sun in winter time, so as soon as you’re up and over the hill, you’ll get some feeling back in your toes!
You'll pass over the Knights Family bridge, pedal on over the Southern Discoveries Bridge and before long you’ll be riding along the Arrow River with the pub in sight! The Fork & Tap Alehouse do a mega mulled wine in their cosy pub, or alternatively the Dishery invites you in for a winter warmer in their sun drenched garden.
Tucker Beach Trail
A great one on a moody winter morning, this short and easy 6.7km return trail starts out from the Lower Shotover Bridge and climbs up to a high terrace that runs through to the Tucker Beach Wildlife Reserve. If you’re a morning person this is the perfect leg stretcher to start your day, with beautiful views down over the icy Shotover River below and Coronet Peak up above, as well as the Remarkables looking back towards the bridge. Why not take a 4 legged friend or a mate along for company, or soak up the peaceful morning sounds. The trail ends at the Tucker Beach Wildlife Management Reserve, the reserve is home to a number of rare birds including the Banded Dotterel and Black-fronted Tern, and is subject to an ecological restoration project. Once you reach the DOC carpark you can head back along the road, or turn around and go back the way you came.
The Queenstown Trails Trust has a vision for a happier, healthier and cleaner Queenstown, all because more people have the opportunity to walk and cycle. We want people of all ages and abilities to utilise the network of trails safely, easily and enjoyably around the Wakatipu. If everyone who used the trails regularly donated as little as $30 per year we’d be safeguarding the future of the trails. Help us achieve our vision and support us by becoming a Friend of the Trust.