Of course, I don’t mean ‘take a hike’ as in ‘get lost’ (although getting lost around beautiful Queenstown wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing!) but taking a hike really is one of the most awesome activities you can take part in when you’re in this part of the globe.
Queenstown is famous for lots of things – winter sports, bungee jumping, fergburgers, wine and generally having a bloody good time, but to get away from the adrenaline fuelled fun once in a while and get back to nature, pull on your boots and check out the Queenstown Trail…
A new network of trails stretching 110kms, the Queenstown Trail officially opened on October 18th and is being hailed as one of New Zealand’s flagship trails, alongside favourites such as the Routeburn and Milford tracks. Linking together the most popular visitor spots in and around Queenstown such as Queenstown Bay, Frankton, Lake Hayes, Arrowtown, and Gibbston ‘valley of vines’, the Trail is flexible enough for you to complete in sections or as a whole, depending on how adventurous you are feeling!
The trail is an easy to intermediate gradient and follows pristine rivers, lakes and mountain ranges but if you do want to fit in a bungee, ride on a jet boat or sip some famous NZ wine as you go, you can, as the trail will take you past all of these things.
Existing popular walking spots are also incorporated in the trail including the Gibbston River Trail, which gives stunning views of the Kawarau River, and the Lake Hayes Loop Track which has breathtaking 360-degree lake and mountain views. Arrowtown’s Manse Road Trail, new last season, allows walkers to explore the picturesque village of Arrowtown on foot and learn more about the fascinating history of its restored Chinese Village via newly erected interpretation panels in English and Simplified Chinese.
Scenic short walks from downtown Queenstown range from a leisurely lakeside stroll around the Queenstown Gardens, hiking up Queenstown Hill to enjoy magnificent lake and mountain views, or following the sunny lakeside trail along Kelvin Heights Peninsula around to Jack’s Point. The more challenging Ben Lomond Track is a popular day trip which rewards walkers with stunning 360-degreeviews of the region.
More adventurous hikers are also well catered for with a number of overnight and multi-day walks within easy reach of Queenstown. Glenorchy, at the head of Lake Wakatipu, is a spectacular 45-minute lakeside drive from Queenstown and the starting point for several multi-day hikes such as the Dart/Rees, Greenstone and Caples tracks as well as the Routeburn, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Towards Milford Sound, the stunning Hollyford and Milford Tracks are also easily accessible.
You can choose to walk these tracks independently and stay at Department of Conservation huts or campsites, which I would really recommend. The DoC campsites really are fantastic – quiet, simple spots, usually situated deep inside woodland or forest, giving you that special ‘lost in nature’ feeling. You can pick up maps / guidebooks for the locations of these DoC sites from most tourism related premises and they are pretty well signposted.
It’s almost impossible to visit New Zealand without gasping at it’s beauty – particularly in and around Queenstown. Around every corner lies another stunning view and hiking allows you to get up close and personal to the sights most of us will only ever enjoy on a postcard.
Thanks to Destination Queenstown for supplying most of the info and images for this post.
Have you ever been hiking in New Zealand? We’d love to share your stories and photos so get in touch!