Trail Safety

Before you head out onto the trail, we've highlighted some important pointers to ensure you have a wonderful trip.

Below you'll find information on our trail grades, safety and bike etiquette. 


The Queenstown Trail is an easy to intermediate trail with the option of adding in advanced sections. The following descriptions explain the New Zealand Cycle Trail's grading system for riders. We encourage everyone to know your own limits, and choose a trail that suits the abilities of everyone in your group.

EASY / GRADE 2: Off-road trails are predictable, i.e. no surprises and mostly flat with some gentle climbs. The surface is either firm gravel or sealed (e.g. concrete or asphalt). The trail is wide enough for 2 people to cycle side by side at times and may include sections where cyclists will have to ride single file. 

Suitable For: Beginners, occasional cyclists and families who have limited cycling experience. A multi-geared bike with medium to wide tyres is recommended, such as a comfort bike, touring bike or mountain bike. E-Bikes are also suitable as long as they are ridden appropriately.

Easy Trails Include: Arrow River Bridges Trail, Frankton Track & Kelvin Peninsula Trail, Gibbston River Trail

INTERMEDIATE / GRADE 3: Off-road trails can be narrow and may include hill climbs, steep drop-offs and small river crossings. The trail surface is mostly firm, but may include muddy or loose sections. There may also be obstacles such as rocks or tree roots to avoid. 

Suitable For: Regular, experienced cyclists with a good level of fitness and over 12 years of age. Children should be accompanied by an adult. A mountain bike is recommended for off-road trails. Road racing tyres are not recommended.

Intermediate Trails Include: Countryside Trail, Lake Hayes Trail, Twin Rivers Trail

ADVANCED / GRADE 4: Off-road trails are narrow with steep climbs and unavoidable obstacles. The trail surface includes firm and loose sections, with lots of rocks and tree roots. There will be poor traction in places and some walking may be required. 

Suitable For: Fit and experienced cyclists with good off-road skills, a high level of fitness and over 12 years of age. Children should be accompanied by an adult. A quality mountain bike is recommended for off-road trails. Road racing tyres are not recommended.

Advanced Trails Include: Jack's Point Trail


Riding our trails has an inherent degree of risk, which can be easily reduced through careful planning and good decision making. It doesn't take long to plan. you can read and download the NZ Mountain Safety Council Activity Guide HERE and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have you told anyone that you are heading out?

  • How long will the trail take to complete?

  • Is the trail within the limits of everyone in the group?

  • Where will you stop for breaks?How will you ensure you stick together during your trip?

  • What food and clothing will you need?

  • What are the other essentials you should take with you?

What should you take: New Zealand, in particular Queenstown weather is very changeable. Even you set out in the sunshine and there is no rain in the forecast it’s not uncommon to have an isolated shower or even a snow storm. Make sure you take rain protection and extra layers you can put on if it gets cold. Having the right supplies means that you’re more likely to remain warm, comfortable and safe for the duration of your ride.

There are a few other essentials you should have on you for multi day rides:

  • A comfortable backpack. About 30L is the largest you’d want to carry, and you could also look to place gear on your bike with a frame bag or seat pack

  • Food and water – take more than you think you’ll need. Yes there is plenty of places to refill and refuel, however there are some long stretches without to

  • A basic first aid kit with any personal medication you may need.

  • A map of your ride

  • A communication device. There is mobile phone coverage in most parts of the trail but not all

  • A torch or headlamp with batteries

  • A basic survival kit

  • Basic bike maintenance equipment - bike pump / puncture repair kit


Here are a few important pointers to foster positive attitudes between different trail users and remember we are lucky that many local landowners have given us access to their private property.

The following Mountain Bikers’ Code has been developed by the Mountain Bike Association of New Zealand (MTBNZ) in liaison with key stakeholders including the Department of Conservation

Respect others

  • Stay in control, so you can safely avoid others and keep yourself intact
  • Give way to walkers
  • Use a bell or greeting when approaching others. Most negative feedback from walkers on shared-use tracks concerns being surprised by bikers approaching without warning.
  • Ride shared-use tracks in small groups. A ‘bike-train’ with a dozen riders displaces other users. A better number is 6–8, or less
  • Be patient behind slower riders and pull over where practical to let faster riders pass

Respect the rules

  • Ride only where permitted – keep off closed tracks, including those that are seasonally closed to protect the surface or minimise conflict with other users
  • Be prepared (take food, water, tools, first aid and warm clothes) and plan for the unexpected (a change in the weather, an accident or getting lost)
  • Leave gates as you find them – either open or closed to keep stock where they are intended to be

Respect the track

  • Don’t skid, cut corners or make new lines. Skidding creates water channels that cause erosion (use both brakes to slow down as you approach corners). Cutting corners is cheating and damages fragile ecosystems
  • Avoid riding in the mud and rain, where possible. Both bikes and walkers damage soft, wet tracks
  • Take your rubbish home – leave only tyre prints
  • Clean your bike to prevent spreading weeds like gorse and didymo

Respect public access easements

Some mountain bike rides travel along public access easements through private land. All easements and tracks are well marked.

  • Stay on the public easement track
  • Leave gates as you find them
  • Do not disturb stock – cycle slowly through livestock areas.

Sharing the Road

  • Follow the road rules – stop for red lights and at pedestrian crossings
  • Ride predictably, in a straight line and signal your intentions clearly in advance
  • Ride no more than two abreast and only where safe and appropriate
  • Try not to slow the flow of traffic – where practical pull over to let vehicles pass
  • Courtesy works – a wave and a smile to other road users will help foster a more positive attitude to cyclists and vice versa



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