Hitting the Queenstown Trail is easy thanks to many access points and conveniently located bike hire. Out on the trails, clear signage and wide, smooth terrain means you can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
A grand tour of the whole trail will take 3–4 days, stopping overnight along the way. There are also endless day rides too, many of which are now classic Queenstown experiences up there with other must-do’s such as bungy jumping and jet boating.
A deservedly popular option is the Arrow River Bridges Ridethat starts at the old gold town of Arrowtown and traces a beautiful river downstream. Highlights include various bridges, a rocky gorge, and pretty country lanes, along with historic Kawarau Bridge which is home to the world’s first bungy.
The bridge marks the gateway to the Valley of the Vines, where the Gibbston River Wine Trail passes a series of cellar door tasting rooms and restaurants. Another popular option starting at Queenstown Gardens, the lakeside Frankton Track follows a peaceful path to a brewbar and cafes, with a fabulous backdrop of the Remarkables.
Not officially part of the Great Ride, the new Coronet Loop is an excellent addition to the wider Queenstown Trails network. This 50km, grade 3–4 MTB trail is more of a backcountry adventure on narrow singletrack, best suited to fit, adventurous riders. Starting in Arrowtown and traversing historic water races, steep gorges and stunning mountain scenery, it’s full-day/overnight excursion, but well worth the blood, sweat and tears that make finish-line refreshments back in Arrowtown so much more refreshing!
Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trails Official Website
A detailed description of the Queenstown Trail, including maps and more information, can be found here.
The trails are wide and smooth, and mostly grade 2–3 (easy to intermediate), so there’s a ride for most ages and abilities.
There are plenty of return rides and loops, but flexible shuttle pick-ups also enable one-way rides and multi-day journeys across the network.
A mountain bike is recommended for safety and comfort, and e-bikes are welcome.
Although the trails are well signposted and meet many roads and settlements, riders should carry a map, water and food, basic tool kit and cellphone. There are toilets dotted at convenient points.
The trails can be ridden at any time of year, each season blessed with vibrant colours. The mountain surrounds mean that conditions can change quickly, so it’s vital to check the forecast and take appropriate clothing regardless of the season.
Queenstown and Arrowtown are both great bases for cycling adventures, providing a broad range of accommodation within short riding distances of the trails. There are also plenty of options near the trail throughout the Wakatipu Basin and Gibbston Valley, and within an hour’s drive in other popular bases such as Wānaka and Cromwell.