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9 of the Best Queenstown Walks & Short Hikes

From mountain tops to lakeside strolls, the Queenstown and Arrowtown areas in the South Island of New Zealand offer spectacular views and an incredible range of walking options.

The shorter walk experiences can be undertaken whether warm or cold – just dress appropriately but the longer day or more hikes you are always best to contact the nearest DOC Visitor Centre for the latest information on facilities and conditions, and ensure you are prepared for the weather conditions.

Short Queenstown Walks

There are a number of fantastic short walks around Lake Wakatipu. Close to town is the beautiful Queenstown Gardens where you can partake in a scenic leg-stretch around the small peninsula that the gardens are situated on, overlooking Lake Wakatipu. You could even join in a game of golf frisbee!

1. Frankton Track

A great option with views of the Remarkables is the well-maintained wide Frankton track that starts about 2 kilometres from the centre of town off Park Street and finishes at the Frankton end of the lake – allow around 1 to 1.5 hours one way.

Insiders Tip: the Frankton end of Lake Wakatipu is generally warmer than other areas and a good place to cool off on a hot day.

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View over lake Wakatipu from the Frankton Beach.

2. Seven Mile Track/Wilson Bay Track

An easy walk or bike (intermediate grade 3) through regenerating bush and pine forest with views of Wilson Bay. The track starts 7 km south of Queenstown on the Glenorchy-Queenstown Road.

3. Queenstown Hill Time Walk

An easily accessible highlight is the more strenuous 500-metre climb up Queenstown Hill, with a pay-off of panoramic views of the lake, Cecil Peak, the Remarkables and more. You will walk through pine forest to the summit of Te Tapu-nui (mountain of intense sacredness) and, along the way, you will pass six information plates that explain different epochs of Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown. The first ‘peak’ you will arrive at the “Basket of Dreams” sculpture. If you continue further up for another 15 minutes or so, you will reach a higher peak with spectacular views across the Wakatipu valley.

Queenstown, Short Walks, Long Walks, Short Hikes, View Points, New Zealand, Best short walks, Queenstown Trails, Lake Wakatipu, Walking Tracks, Queenstown Hill Time WalkThe Basket of Dreams Sculpture / View from Queenstown Hill

4. Tiki Trail to the Gondola

This zig zag walk through pine forest will take about one hour and you will need reasonable shoes as there are steep inclines, rocky sections and tree roots to climb over. The trek is well worth the effort as you be rewarded with panoramic views over Queenstown, the lake and surrounding mountains. At the Skyline you will find a restaurant, gift shop, toilets, and you can ride the luge or the opportunity to go on a tandem paragliding flight back to the bottom of the hill.

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Many other short walks can be found within a half-hour drive:

5. Moke Lake

On the way to Glenorchy is the turn-off to Moke Lake, a hidden gem nestled among tussocky peaks. The Moke Lake loop track circumnavigates the serene lake, approximately 2–3 hour return. This popular short, undulating walk through grassland is surrounded by mountains and goes right round the lake. A short boardwalk at the southern end protects a wetland.

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6. Lake Hayes

Stroll, walk, run or cycle around Lake Hayes, an 8km loop track, surrounded by spectacular mountains. The track has multiple access points: Lake Hayes Pavilion and show grounds on SH6; Bendemeer Bay; North Lake Hayes picnic area; Arrowtown Road; Rutherford Road off Speargrass Flat Road.

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7. Lake Alto

The Lake Alta hike is a favourite amongst locals but few tourists have heard of it. It’s found at the top of the Remarkables with alpine scenery with a decent hill climb. This is a small lake nestled within a natural amphitheatre at the head of a glacial valley (a ‘cirque’) and below the towering Double Cone peaks.

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Getting to the Start of the Lake Alta Track
Lake Alta is located within the Remarkables Ranges. To access the start of the walking track, drive your Pegasus Rental car in the direction of the Remarkables. Follow this road up to the top of the mountain, where you’ll find the ski-field carpark.

To make your hike easier, we recommend you park at the top carpark where you’ll see a ‘public walking access’ sign – this is the start of the Lake Alta hike. To get the best views over Queenstown you will head up a slightly different track off to the right hand side. This is a very steep track and should only be done in proper hiking boots or study shoes.

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Arrowtown

8. Sawpit Gully

Heading over to Arrowtown you can wander through the old Chinese township or walk alongside the arrow river. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, a 2-3 hour loop track (steep in places) is the historic Sawpit Gully, a walk through mostly open country. After your trek, Arrowtown has a range of delicious eateries including the Patagonia ice cream parlour.

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Longer Queenstown Hikes

9. Ben Lomond

For really keen hikers you can continue on from the Skyline to trek the all-day return walk to the summit of Ben Lomond (1748m). This is a challenging track in an alpine environment so best to be tackled in fine weather, proper boots, with water and food taken. Weather permitting, the view includes Mt Earnslaw/Pikirakatahi and Mt Aspiring/ Tititea. From April to November, be prepared for snow and ice above the bushline. Of course you can always short cut this trek by taking the gondola instead of starting on the Tiki Tour.

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• Plan ahead and prepare
• Dispose of waste properly
• Leave what you find
• Respect wildlife and farm animals
• Be considerate of others

Pick up a rental car from Pegasus Queenstown Airport, and you’ll have the freedom and flexibility to drive to the start of any of these great walks and all the other attractions to be found in the beautiful Queenstown area. Enjoy!