Basket of Dreams,Queenstown Hill.
Best Queenstown Walks
Queenstown, known as the adventure capital of the world.Full on Bungy jumps,jet boat rides and screams of adrenaline. Although activities can fill your days in Queenstown so can the amazing local walks. Do you need to escape the buzz of the CBD and get in touch with Mother Nature? Then look no further, whether you have a car or not, all these walks are easily accessible on foot or a quick bus ride away. The scenery in Queenstown is incredible and constantly evolving depending on season so make sure you pack your walking boots, some comfy clothes and most importantly your camera.
Head straight out of town for this short half day walk. From the bottom of Ballarat street the handy brown Queenstown hill sign will lead you up through the houses and to the bottom of the trail, if you have a car you can also drive to the small carpark situated at the entrance. This walk gradually climbs up through pine forest and loops to the incredible basket of dreams sculpture at the top. The walk is pretty steady and there is opportunity to take little breaks on the ascend as you read the Queenstown Hill tale, informative boards line the track with information and images about the history of Queenstown. When you have reached the basket of dreams, be sure to explore the area, there are amazing spots to take photographs of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains. If you feel the urge to hike some more then you can continue above the basket of dreams for panoramic views of our quaint little town below. Whatever the weather this walk is a perfect little escape from the hustle and bustle of the town below.
The Queenstown trail can be accessed from pretty much anywhere in Queenstown and can reach out as far as Arrowtown. The most popular route is from the gardens in town, following the lakes edge all the way to Frankton. This is a flat trail to walk or bike. The trail hugs the water’s edge and provides you with excellent views of the Remarkables in front, be sure to check out the activity on the lake, from the roaring jet boats to the odd Jet Ski there is always something going on. This trail can be extended if you wish and sign posts will lead the way toward Arrowtown and round the arm to Jacks point. On route toward Frankton make sure you pit stop at the Boat Shed Cafe, beautiful coffee, service and views. Whatever the weather this trail leads the way in getting you back on the ground from your adrenaline filled schedule and back at one with nature. This is a popular trail for tourists and locals alike and you will be joined by walkers, bikes and sometimes even the Segway Tour will overtake you. There are plenty of little trails to access the shore of the lake and also those idyllic wooden boat platforms, perfect for secluded picnics and beers.
Just a short drive out toward Arrowtown you will come across Lake Hayes. Picture perfect with its glass like reflections and border of beautiful trees and hills. This loop track will take you around 2-3 hours to complete (and that’s allowing for plenty of photo opportunities) You can start the track from the pavilion car park or down by the lakes edge on the far right-hand side. The track is pretty flat with only on few little inclines to get your calves burning. You will be greeted with views of Coronet peak from one edge and the Remarkables from the opposite. The trees that border the lake look beautiful in every season and will provide you with stunning pictures for your scrapbook. Head down early enough and you will catch the Wakatipu rowing club piercing the water with their athletic display. The track is easy to walk and bike ride and the perfect place to hang out surrounded by beautiful backdrops.
When you stand in Queenstown and look up, Ben Lomond with greet you with its spiked edges and majestic presence. This walk is pretty intense but so rewarding when you reach the summit. There are two ways to reach the start of this Queenstown walk, you can cheat and grab a gondola ride up to the skyline building, now don’t get me wrong this is still a little adventure in itself. The cable cars give you an amazing view of what’s below and also lets your body rest and prepare for what is ahead. The alternative is starting the track from the bottom, you follow the signs for the Tiki Trail, this trail will lead you up through the dense forest surrounding the hill, you will pass through several runs of the downhill bike run so make sure you look to your right as you cross paths. The Tiki Trail is pretty steep and zig zags back and forth until you reach the service road, then you will know you are nearly at the skyline. Once you reach the skyline, head toward the Luge and follow signs for Ben Lomond, you will soon be on the way with the mountain looming over you. The track is pretty steep and requires a degree in determination to get to the saddle, there are plenty of places to take a little rest and enjoy the slowly elevated view of Queenstown appearing below. Once you reach the saddle the sign pointing to the top can be somewhat daunting, you can see the tiny dots of people climbing the ridge line and the somewhat vertical accent to the summit. Don’t worry though a steep yet short climb will mean you are happily sat on the top with incredible 360 views of the Southern Alps. Take your time at the top because unless you are in a rush to climb again, you can see so much from the top of Ben Lomond, the Remarkables, the lake as far as Glenorchy and the sea of mountains behind you. Now the descent can be equally as challenging, there are a few areas that require you to climb down the rocks and the terrain can be slippy, take your time and always be aware of the people around you. Once you reach the saddle you are in for a beautiful scenic descent, the track becomes a real track again and you can take your time enjoying what you just accomplished. Once back at The Skyline make sure you head inside for a celebratory ice cream and grab that iconic above Queenstown shot before you ride the gondola down or tackle the Tiki Trail again.
Somewhat not on everybody’s radar is the moonlight track out at Arthurs point. If you need your real middle earth fix and want to pretend you are fresh out of a scene from The Hobbit then this track is for you. Starting right from the car park at Arthurs point (signposted from the main road) The Moonlight track is an amazing windy trail with varied terrain, you can be on a single path one second and then climbing over a rock the next, to then paddling through a small steam. The sheep on this track will keep you company as you wind through the back country of New Zealand. The mountains around you provide the picture perfect moments you desire to take away with you. The track is not intended to be a loop so if you only fancy the one way then I would arrange transport from the end and sneak a lift up to the start. Your end destination will be Moke Lake (another perfect day walk in Queenstown, similar to Lake Hayes) however the walk is still achievable in a day if you wish to return by the same route. The moonlight track is also a popular mountain bike trail (not for the faint hearted) so beware of the adventurous two wheelers. This is a must do trail and not one of the most popular so don’t be surprised if you are solo during your whole adventure.
Sawpit Gully,Queenstown walk
Beautiful Arrowtown is a small village on the outskirts of Queenstown. If you are here for a few days then this old Chinese gold mining settlement plays host to its own selection of short day walks. There are loop tracks for every ability. Sawpit Gully is stunning; right from the old house there is a sign that describes all the walks and the direction to take. For this walk, I advise turning right and completing the trail anticlockwise. Autumn is the best time to visit Arrowtown as it explodes with orange and red, the sky is calm and the views are beautiful. The trail is pretty varied, to begin with it is steady and has a slow incline, before you reach the bridge you take a sharp left and climb up a thin track.. make sure you sneak to the open area to the left- half way up and soak up the views of Arrowtown and The Remarkables in the distance. From here the track dips up and down and you may have to use the stepping stones in the river depending on how high and fast the water is flowing. This adds to the variety of the walk and makes it that little bit more adventurous. As you climb and climb you will finally reach the highest point on the trail, from here you can continue up the big hill walk or admire the views of Lake Hayes that has just unfolded before you. As you walk across the huge field you will begin your descent through the forest, steep, yet ever so rewarding as the views stay ahead. You will then join up with the Arrow river and follow this back to your starting point. Again a popular track but one you can enjoy at your own pace with varied terrain.