|Length||110 km (68 mi)|
|Location||Queenstown, New Zealand|
|Trailheads||Queenstown / Arrowtown / Gibbston / Jack’s Point|
|Highest point||425m near Arrowtown|
|Lowest point||300m at Frankton Arm beach|
|Trail difficulty||Easy / Intermediate / Advanced (depending on track)|
|Hazards||Cliffs / Vehicles|
The Queenstown Trail or Queenstown Trail is a cycle and walking trail funded as one of the projects of the New Zealand Cycle Trail (NZCT) system in Otago, New Zealand. It links the towns of Queenstown, Arrowtown and the area of Gibbston. It is at least 110 km in length but is not linear and instead follows the terrain often near rivers and lakes to link key places in a series of tracks that also access public land. In some places it also passes through private land such as working farms and users are encouraged to stay on the trail. The trail is a joint venture between the Government, Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Queenstown Trails Trust.
LADY OF THE LAKE
Spot the TSS Earnslaw, known as the ‘Lady of the Lake’, gliding across Lake Wakatipu. She’s the last remaining coal-fired passenger vessel operating in the southern hemisphere.
Take a cruise on the lake and explore this elegant vessel, including the bridge and the engine room where stokers fuel the fireboxes.
Cruises can be combined with stops at Walter Peak High Country Farm, which offers a delightful setting with activities aplenty. You can watch sheep shearing, enjoy a horse trek or take a heritage excursion.
Queenstown’s dramatic landscapes and dynamic activities ensure its position as New Zealand’s premier winter alpine resort.
Its vibrant, compact town centre always puts on a show for visitors.
Popular routes are listed below and can be started and finished in either direction:
Queenstown Bay to Kelvin Heights
- Links the locations of Queenstown and Kelvin Heights. This track surrounds the Frankton Arm section of Lake Wakatipu. Initially the track starts close to the Queenstown Gardens and then runs parallel to Frankton Road near the lake edge and then passes through Frankton before going over the Kawarau Falls Bridge on State Highway 6. The track ends at the end of the Kelvin Heights Peninsula, but can be continued on if desired.
Kelvin Heights to Jack’s Point
- Connects Kelvin Heights to the Jack’s Point Clubhouse.
- Starts near the Queenstown Golf Club on the Kelvin Heights Peninsula
- Views are wide open across Lake Wakatipu towards mountains such as Cecil Peak.
Queenstown Bay to Arrowtown
- Links the locations of Queenstown and Arrowtown via Frankton. Passes over the old Lower Shotover Bridge which is above the Shotover River.
Lake Hayes Circuit
- This is a circular route that encircles Lake Hayes. There are various points it can be started from including the Lake Hayes Pavilion next to State Highway 6 and the Picnic area at the north of the lake accessed via Arrowtown Road and also Rutherford Road (off Speargrass Flat Road). Was originally called the Lake Hayes Loop but now known as the Lake Hayes Circuit. This track connects to the nearby Lake Hayes Estate residential sub-division.
Twin Rivers Ride
- A route that links Frankton with the Lake Hayes area but also joins onto the Arrow River Bridges Ride. Passes both the Kawarau and Shotover Rivers and hence the name. Also goes past the suburb of Lake Hayes Estate and there is a track that can take you to the Lake Hayes Loop.
Arrow River Bridges Ride
- This route connects Arrowtown to Gibbston. For much of its length follows the Arrow River. It can end at Chard Farm or can be linked onto the Gibbston River Trail. This trail contains many of the bridges that can be passed over on the Queenstown Trail as well as The Barfoot Tunnel.
Gibbston River Trail
A route that passes along the Kawarau River around many vineyards in the Gibbston Valley. Carparks are available at each end of the track. There are also several loops in the track allowing for a varied or shorter route. This track was managed by Department of Conservation track until its upgrade in 2014 making it bike friendly and becoming officially part of the Queenstown Trail.
Originally the name for the network of trails in the region was the Wakatipu Trails before being renamed The Queenstown Trail. Signage on the trail simply calls it Queenstown Trail. The Wakatipu Trails Trust was set up in 2002 after a meeting between Duncan Field of QLDC and Chris Eden the DOC Wakatipu Area Manager at the time to assess the interest in created a network of recreational trails. In 2004 the Wakatipu Trails strategy was developed which helped to guide the development of the trails. The main routes of the Queenstown Trail now link up with many smaller tracks not part of the official trail many of which existed before its 2012 opening.
The trail was opened on 18 October 2012 although many parts of the trail had already been constructed and were in regular use by the public before this date. It was officially opened by the Prime Minister John Key and cyclist Sarah Ulmer near Arrowtown. It had taken 3 years and more than 100 contractors costing $5.4 million (NZD) to build.
Several places of the trail have drop offs sometimes near rivers, occasionally bad weather can cause slips to occur which can temporarily close parts of the track. Although nearly the entire track is off-road a small number of sections cross either roads or driveways. There is also the potential for collisions between different users since they are travelling at different speeds and directions and there are quite a few blind corners.
As part of the Queenstown Trail there are three existing bridges (built before the trail was conceived) and six new structures (two wooden bridges, two suspension bridges, an underbridge and a tunnel). The bridges and tunnel built specifically for the Queenstown Trail were named after families that made significant donations towards the project.
- Lower Shotover Bridge: This is a restored historic bridge that used to be used for traffic but is now used by cyclists and pedestrians.
- Kawarau Falls Bridge: This old bridge has space for pedestrians on one side and an alternating one way section for traffic. There are proposals to upgrade this bridge in the future.
- Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge: This is the bridge used by the AJ Hackett Bungy Company.
- The Edgar Bridge: This is an 80m suspension bridge over the Arrow Gorge and named after Sir Eion and Lady Edgar.
- The Barfoot Tunnel: The Barfoot Tunnel, under State Highway 6, was made possible by a donation from Garth and Judy Barfoot, of Auckland.
- The Knights Family Bridge: Named after the family that made a donation for the under bridge that goes beneath State Highway 6.
- The Southern Discoveries Bridge: A second suspension bridge that goes over the Arrow River near to where the opening ceremony was held.
- The Swain Bridge: The Swain Bridge is to be found on the Arrowtown Millennium Trail. Named after Ken Swain a Queenstown Trails Trust trustee.
- Billie’s Bridge: This is a bridge that runs over the Kawarau River and is named after a member of the Sargood family.