Hiking in Queenstown: 20 Trails for Fresh Air & Epic Views

written by local expert Jane Elmets

Jane always knew she wasn't destined for a desk job... She has travelled all over the world and is passionate about noodles, sloths and her hiking boots! When she isn't busy adventuring around the world, you can find her reviewing travel gear and dishing out travel tips to all the places she's visited.

With beautiful scenery, fresh air, and exhilarating views, it’s no wonder that hiking in Queenstown is one of the most popular pass times for locals and visitors alike.

Queenstown offers so many trails for all skill levels to enjoy: some more challenging than others but all with their own unique features and panoramic vistas of the surrounding lakes and mountain ranges.

So whether you’re looking for something short and easy or long and strenuous, I’ve rounded up 20 of the best hikes around Queenstown from local experience – check them out below.

20 Incredible Queenstown Hikes

After living in Queenstown for a little while, I’d say I have a pretty solid grasp on the best hikes in the area.

After completing most of them myself and gathering knowledge from adventurous friends, I can confidently say that these are the top 20 hikes in Queenstown, for all types of travelers.

Queenstown Hill

Queenstown Hill, one of the most popular hikes in Queenstown

Distance: 4.2 km

Difficulty: Moderate

When it comes to hiking in Queenstown, this is definitely the most iconic track. Starting from town and climbing high into the hills, this slightly strenuous, mostly paved track offers some incredible views and is the perfect way to spend a few hours.

When you reach the viewpoint, snap a few pictures and continue your climb. The real treat is the summit lookout with panoramic views of lakes, mountains and the surrounding towns. If you want detailed tips on how to hike Queenstown Hill, check out this post.

Bob’s Cove

Distance: 3.3 km

Difficulty: Easy / Moderate

I can almost guarantee that anyone living in Queenstown has walked Bob’s Cove at some point.

This picturesque hot spot offers a leisurely walk along the lake with some awesome viewpoints along the way.

You can opt to walk right to the jetty (20 minutes in), hike the 30 minute loop track with an insanely beautiful lookout, or take the Twelve Mile Delta track which will extend the hike to one or two hours. 

It’s frequented by dog walkers and tourists alike, as well as anyone looking to swim in the crystal clear water surrounded by snow capped peaks.

My biggest tip for hiking around Bob’s Cove? Sandfly spray! They are out in full force in this area.

Fernhill Loop

Distance: 7.5 km

Difficulty: Easy / Moderate

This gentle, well marked trail is basically in town and quite peaceful as so few people know about it!

The Fernhill Loop starts from the car park on Wynyard Crescent and takes hikers through a gorgeous red beech forest just under Ben Lomond.

Great for bird watching, general Otago scenery and stretching your legs without traveling too far out of town, this is a top choice for family friendly hiking in Queenstown!

Looking for somewhere to stay in Queenstown? Check out our top Queenstown Airbnb picks for epic accommodation options.

Moke Lake Loop Track

View of part of the moke lake loop track in Queenstown

Distance: 6 km

Difficulty: Easy

Moke Lake Loop is an excellent hike for those who want to get out of town and enjoy the natural surroundings. It’s only a 15 minute drive from Queenstown but sees much less traffic than other surrounding hikes.

This six-kilometer loop starts and ends at Moke Lake, where you’ll be able to swim or have lunch before or after your trek. It’s a fairly flat walk, crossing through wetlands and over bridges, with glorious mountain and lake views the entire time.

With plenty of scenery in every direction, this makes for a great beginner hike!

If you’re looking for something a little more strenuous, head up to the “secret” Moke Lake viewpoint which starts at the campsite and climbs up a super steep path until you reach the stunning lookout. If you do this hike for sunset, be sure to bring a headlamp for the trek down.

Frankton Arm Walkway

Distance: 7.3 km (point to point)

Difficulty: Easy

This flat, lakeside trail is packed with locals in the mornings and evenings walking their dogs or riding their bikes to and from work. 

Stretching from Queenstown Gardens all the way to Frankton, this makes for an easy, scenic walk if you’re looking to stretch your legs around Queenstown.

Kelvin Peninsula Trail

Kelvin Peninsula Trail in Queenstown with views of lake and Remarkables

Distance: 3.5 km

Difficulty: Easy

This track is actually a continuation of the Frankton Arm Walkway, but also an easy hike in its own right.

If you aren’t interested in walking all the way from Queenstown to Kelvin Heights, you can drive over and park at the end of Grove Lane, and begin your walk from there.

I personally love this walk when it comes to hiking in Queenstown because it’s way less crowded than some of the other flat tracks, with sunshine all day long and awesome views of Queenstown from across the water.

There are also sculptures built into the landscape along the track so be sure to keep your eyes peeled!

Insider Tip: You’ll have to drive to most of the best hikes in Queenstown, but if you don’t have your own car, no worries! Click Here to check out rental car options… You’ll be surprised at how affordable it is.

Sunshine Bay Track

Distance: 2 km (point to point)

Difficulty: Easy

To have a beach all to yourself, head out to Sunshine Bay and hit this easy trail.

It runs parallel to the shoreline, climbing up and down, with frequent beach access and breathtaking views of lakes, mountains, and Queenstown in the distance.

Swim if you dare, but know that the water is freezing unless you’re wearing a wetsuit. If you’d rather stay dry, pack a picnic to enjoy before heading back.

The start of the track is only a couple minutes outside of town, making the Sunshine Bay Trail one of the most accessible hikes in Queenstown.

Tiki Trail

View of Queenstown from the TIki Trail and Skyline

Distance: 2.1 km

Difficulty: Moderate / Strenuous

If you don’t want to shell out $40 for a gondola ride, hike the Tiki Trail instead! This super steep trail brings you straight to Skyline in about an hour.

It’s definitely one of the more challenging hikes, but also the closest to town and the most rewarding.

When you get to the top, you can grab a coffee or snack from the cafe, munch on candy from the Jelly Belly store, or purchase a few luge rides before hiking back down. 

Ben Lomond

Distance: 11 km

Difficulty: Strenuous

The Tiki Trail takes you to Skyline, and from there, you can continue on to Ben Lomond, one of the huge peaks you can see from town.

If you start at the bottom, this hike will probably take all day, so pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at the Saddle viewpoint before continuing your trek to the summit.

From the top of Ben Lomond, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the Southern Alps, but you’ll also be able to soak in the scenery the entire time you climb. It’s no wonder this is such a beloved Queenstown hike!

Lake Alta Track

Distance: 3.5 km

Difficulty: Moderate / Strenuous

Starting from the Remarkables ski area, this hike is slightly challenging but oh-so worth it.

The beginning of the track follows a skifield road to the top of the Alta Chairlift, before deviating through alpine wetlands to an elevated view of Lake Alta. You can expect alpine flowers at every turn, but also chilly temperatures and snow, even during summer months. Be sure to pack the appropriate layers and footwear!

At about an hour and a half in length, it’s worth the trek if you’re looking for some solitude or are craving unique views of a glacial lake. Since virtually no tourists know about this hike, you’ll be one with the locals here.

Wye Creek

Jane at the Wye Creek Platform in Queenstown

Distance: 16.6 km (7 km round trip to platform)

Difficulty: Moderate / Strenuous

The Wye Creek track is an awesome local secret that is becoming more and more popular in recent years. On any given weekend, you’ll find parents tramping with their little ones here, along with dozens of local rock climbers who traverse up the rugged stones along the path.

There are two ways to enjoy hiking at Wye Creek: The first is a steep 45 minute climb through the forest and across dams until you reach a platform. This is a top spot for snapping Insta pics as the out of place wooden structure looks out over lakes, surrounded by lush greenery. Be sure to turn RIGHT at the creek crossing and follow the water pipe. It’s not marked, so can be easy to miss. 

If you feel like tackling something longer and a little more challenging, hike the entire Wye Creek Track, a 16 kilometer trail that climbs steadily through beech forests and across streams.

P.S., While you can drive up the first section of the track, it’s not recommended without 4WD or right after winter. It’s best to park at the bottom car park and trek up. 

Lake Hayes Walk

Distance: 8 km

Difficulty: Easy

If you’re looking for easy hiking in Queenstown, the Lake Hayes walk will definitely do the trick.

Just 20 minutes outside of the main town, this leisurely hike is more of a stroll, and is perfect for beginners or anyone who prefers a more relaxed tramp.

It’s an 8 kilometer loop in total, and if you don’t feel like walking, cycling is allowed here, as well!

Mt. Crichton Loop Track

Distance:  6 km

Difficulty: Moderate / Strenuous

For thrilling diversity in natural landscapes, the Mt. Crichton Loop Track is epic when it comes to hiking in Queenstown.

The moderately easy loop takes between two to four hours return, and passes by waterfalls, through forests and up to the most beautiful lookouts imaginable.

This area was also intensely mined for gold, so you’ll still see remnants of sluicing and old mine shafts along the track.

Mt. Crichton has a little bit of everything, which definitely makes it one of the best hikes in Queenstown and well loved by locals.

Jack’s Point Track

Distance: 7.1 km (point to point)

Difficulty: Moderate / Strenuous 

A simple Queenstown hike over undulating hills and Otago grassland, you’ll be treated to pristine lake views for the duration of this easy entire walk.

This trail starts at either Jardine Park or at the Jack’s Point Clubhouse and links up with the Kelvin Peninsula track, in case you wish to walk a bit longer. It’s also a popular mountain biking hotspot so be sure to watch out on your left!

Sawpit Gully

Sawpit Gully tack in Arrowtown, Queenstown

Distance: 7.9 km

Difficulty: Moderate

Another one of my personal favorite hikes in Queenstown, this slightly challenging walk out of Arrowtown is nothing short of rewarding.

It starts from the car park along the Arrow River Trail and then splits off with an incredibly steep climb. Once you hit the top of the ascent, you’ll be treated to vibrant foliage, alpine wildflowers and uninterrupted views stretching for miles and miles.

Once you hit the top, it levels out for a bit before the descent back into Arrowtown (it’s a loop).

This is an awesome track if you have a trail dog, but also a fun one if you’re looking for a little bit of diversity. You do get some lake and mountain views, but this is really more of a back country hike with unique vistas that you don’t typically get around Queenstown.

Arrow River Trail

Distance: 4.2 km

Difficulty: Easy

For easier hiking in Queenstown, the Arrow River Trail is a fan favorite.

This flat tramp starts near Arrowtown and follows the Arrow River past a beautiful cascade with a cool swimming hole.

If you continue walking for a little while, you’ll hit another swimming hole that’s a true hidden gem. There’s lots of room to lounge around on towels or beach chairs… Hop in the water to make good use of the rope swings! Our favorite thing to do here was bring a pack raft and have a leisurely float along the river before tramping back.

Tobin’s Track

Distance: 6.6 km

Difficulty: Easy / Moderate

This short but steep track will definitely get your heart pumping, along with providing views of rolling mountains and lush greenery.

It’s an awesome hike for all ages as it’s relatively short… Just 30 minutes each way!

While hiking, be sure to stop and check out the remains of the Thomas Tobin family cottage and have a contemplative rest on the benches up top, erected in memory of a Wakatipu pioneering family.

Gibbston River Trail

bright blue water and greenery along the Gibbston River Track in Queenstown

Distance: 11 km (point to point)

Difficulty: Easy

For the most scenic river and landscape views, the Gibbston River Trail is where it’s at.

It starts from the Kawarau Suspension Bridge (where the famous AJ Hackett Bungee Jump is located… the first commercial bungy jump in the world!) and follows the river downstream.

It’s not too challenging, but there are a couple of steep parts and bikes whizzing will keep you on your toes.

When you’ve had enough walking for the day, pop into one of the local wineries along the track for a refreshing beverage and a snack.

Routeburn Track

Distance: 6.5 – 8.5 km one way for a day hike, 33 km one way total

Difficulty: Strenuous

As one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, this is certainly considered an overnight tramp, but you’re able to get a taste for it on a day hike from Queenstown.

You can start a day hike from Glenorchy Road and travel through Mount Aspiring National Park along the glimmering Routeburn River.

Either hike to the first hut at Routeburn Flats (6.5 kilometers from the trailhead), or continue on for an additional 2 kilometers until you hit the Routeburn Falls Hut. This will take you past the enchanting Bridal Falls, which is definitely worth the extra climb, before heading back for the day.

Roys Peak

one of the best hikes near queenstown: roys peak

Distance: 16 km

Difficulty: Strenuous 

And finally, if you’re hiking in Queenstown you can’t miss the ever famous Roys Peak.

Though located in Wanaka rather than Queenstown, this is a must-do while visiting the area.

This extremely steep and difficult hike is on a well tramped trail and super popular for sunrise. Start your hike at around 3:30AM and you can expect to be at the summit by the time the rays start reaching out over the lake. Believe me when I say this is one of the most magical things you can do in Queenstown.

You’ll probably think the hike is over when you reach the viewpoint made famous by countless Instagram photos, but challenge yourself to make it up to the summit for true panoramic views.

A word to the wise… Bring walking poles or be extremely cautious. The way down is very steep and long, which is hard on the knees. You’ll also do well with a few extra layers and lots of snacks.

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Planning Your Trip to Queenstown

While most people think of Queenstown as nothing more than a ski hub, it’s actually an outstanding destination year round. Case and point, all of the hikes on this list!

While you’ll find hiking in Queenstown year round, it’s typically best during the summer months when the trails are free from snow and ice, and it’s warm enough to tramp without heaps of layers.

That being said, if you hike at the beginning of summer, you’ll be treated to snow capped mountains still lingering from winter, which is rather picturesque.

Overall, if you hope to hike in Queenstown, you’ll be fine at any time of the year but will probably enjoy yourself most in warmer weather when you can stop for picnics without freezing your ass off and really soak in the view.

Where to Stay in Queenstown

Where you stay can definitely make or break your trip, which is why we always recommend staying in a Queenstown Airbnb if possible.

This will give you a nice and cozy place to come back to after a long day of tramping, and provides all the comforts of home. Plus, with a full kitchen, preparing your trail meals couldn’t be easier.

Here are some of our favorite Airbnbs in Queenstown to get you started, or use the map below to explore more stays in the area. 

You can also check out our complete guide to Best Airbnbs in Queenstown for even more personalized recommendations. 

Click Here for Best Airbnbs in Queenstown

As this article shows, there’s really hiking in Queenstown for everyone, no matter your age, physical fitness or location. There’s so much natural beauty to explore in the area, you’d be remiss to not tackle even one of these walks.

Are there any Queenstown hikes that I missed? Drop a comment below with your favorites!

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