The great outdoors is synonymous with Queenstown. So get on your walking shoes and check out these top five hiking trails in and close to Queenstown. These walks are easy to get to with ample parking at the base, provide a varied level of fitness and ensure you get those awesome snaps!
Included is a fitness scale, dog allowance, approximate duration and location. Some of these tracks will be covered in snow and ice during winter so check local conditions and refer to the Department of Conservation (DOC) walkways maps and office for more detailed information.
Top 5 family-friendly walking trails in and around Queenstown
Queenstown Hill Time Walk
A must-do for the fit family which takes about two and a half hours return. At the top expect spectacular views of Lake Wakatipu from the ‘Basket of Dreams’ sculpture. Dogs are allowed. I wouldn’t advise taking a buggy as parts of the path are narrow, steep and rocky. Suitable from ages six and up. Dog. Medium fitness
Up to the Skyline Gondola/Ben Lomond extension – skip the gondola! Head up the track to the left to get to the spot where you can capture that iconic Queenstown aerial photo. The track is very steep in parts especially the beginning, so you need to be fit. There’s plenty to see on the way – mountain bikers skidding past, ziptrekking overhead, stunning vistas plus plenty of other walkers. It is suitable for dogs, but not buggies. If you want to carry on from the Gondola to summit Ben Lomond, I suggest you start the day early. It is between 6-8 hours to do the lot and is full on – be prepared for sore muscles the following day! If you get tired on the way back, grab a gondola down. Take lots of snacks and decent walking shoes as the terrain is diverse. The peak is a fantastic achievement! There’s a great picnic spot with an open area and a park bench just before the final ascent up to the peak. Dog on a leash. 6-8 hours. Medium to high fitness. 8-years old and up.
Kelvin Heights Peninsula
For magical views of the lake and a glimpse at some of the million-dollar architecturally-designed homes that dot the peninsula. You can start almost anywhere, but the easiest is probably the Hilton where you can arm yourself with a coffee before setting off, or rewarding yourself upon your return. The walk is very light, but be aware of cyclists on the relatively narrow path. This is not suitable for buggies or large groups (unless you want to walk single file) due to the narrow path. Dogs are allowed but it is recommended you leash them. Low to medium fitness. All ages.
Arrowtown walking trails
There are a number of walks along the Arrow River and hills including:
a. At one end of the fitness scale, a very mild, buggy and dog-friendly walk along the river, called the Millenium Track which is popular with locals. All ages
b. If you want to amp it up at the other end of the scale head into the hills to Sawpit Gully, a loop track requiring medium to high fitness. This’ll provide great views, stream crossings, forest, and open valley areas. It no longer allows dogs.
c. Tobins Track, which leads onto Sawpit Gully requires moderate fitness. The walk takes you to a secluded panning beach past great views, waterfalls and bridges. Dogs allowed. Medium Fitness.
Mt Crichton loop track with Sam Summers Hut
Head out about 10kms toward Glenorchy and follow the signpost. From the parking lot this 2-4hour easy loop track provides stunning mountain and lake views, waterfalls and Sam Summers hut. This was built in the 1930s and has been kept in very good original condition. Nearby is a cool tail race (rock fissure to move gold). The hut can still be used as overnight accommodation (no bookings required as its first in first served. Very basic facilities and one bunk bed). I wouldn’t take a buggy but it is of course great for a baby backpack. Dogs are allowed but should remain on a leash. This requires medium fitness.