Have a royally good time on the Queenstown Trails
Talk about greedy! Not content with four ski-fields, spectacular wilderness tramping, a shot of adrenalin activities and superlative wine country, the Queenstown region also boasts one of the jewels in New Zealand’s national cycle trail. Ranging from easy lakeside jaunts to cross-country treks – easily accessible from Queenstown and Arrowtown – the 110km-long Queenstown Trails network is an unbeatable way to drink in the area’s famous scenery with ample rewards along the way. Here are our recommended rides:
1. Lake Wakatipu Trail (Queenstown to Kelvin Heights, 15km/1–2 hours each way)
This easy trail starts on Queenstown lakefront, just five minutes’ ride from green and eco-friendly
Creeksyde Top 10 Holiday Park. Hugging Lake Wakatipu’s shore, it skirts around Queenstown Gardens before heading through to Frankton and the waterfront
Boat Shed Café, a picturesque spot for lunch. The next landmark is historic Kawarau Falls Bridge, followed by the snazzy
Hilton Hotel, which welcomes cyclists. The trail continues through to residential Kelvin Heights and Queenstown Golf Course, where you can be collected with pre-arranged transport, or turn-tail and bike back the way you came.
2. Arrow River Bridges Trail (Arrowtown to Gibbston Valley, 16km/2–3 hours)
Arrowtown Holiday Park is a great base for this ride as the Queenstown Trail is just a few minutes’ ride away in central Arrowtown. Set off with at least half a day in hand, as changing vistas have you stopping in your tracks as you follow the Arrow River, crossing five bridges and spying picture-postcard cottages along quiet country lanes. After wheeling across a handsome suspension bridge high above the Arrow Gorge, the trail follows an old goldminers’ road towards the historic Kawarau Bridge, home to the
AJ Hackett Bungy Centre. Stop to knock the big bounce off your bucket list, or sip a cuppa on the sidelines – great entertainment in itself. Finish your ride with a visit to nearby
Chard Farm winery or make a day of it by setting off into the seriously gorgeous wine country on the Gibbston River Ride. Pre-booked, return transport can be arranged for various pick-up points.
3. Gibbston River Ride (Kawarau Bridge through Gibbston Valley, 12.5km/2 hours)
Fine wine, food and amazing scenery – this new trail (officially open October 2014) has it all. Starting at the AJ Hackett Bungy Centre at Kawarau Bridge, the trail heads into the ‘Valley of Vines’ with plenty of interesting stops along the way. Early on,
Gibbston Valley Winery is must-visit for its wine caves, restaurant, and signature pinot noir. Sample a drop or two with a platter of local produce in the garden of
Gibbston Valley Cheeses, next door. Further along the trail,
Peregrine winery is another great tasting stop and an unmistakeable architectural statement to boot. You should be ready for more refreshment by the time you reach the
Gibbston Tavern, a real Central Otago treasure.
Waitiri Creek winery marks the end of the Gibbston River Ride. You can arrange to be collected from any point along the way, or return the way you came back to the Bungy Centre.
4. Lake Hayes Circuit (start/finish at Arrowtown–Lake Hayes Road car park, 8km/1 hour)
A short trail with a couple of short hill climbs, this circuit around beautiful Lake Hayes links up with other sections of the Queenstown Trails heading in almost every direction. (It can easily be completed as a half-day ride from Arrowtown.) Adding to its appeal are a couple of notable eateries within a stone’s throw of the trail –
Walnut Cottage, home to great coffee, home-cooked food, and a century-old Walnut tree; and
Amisfield, a stunning winery restaurant offering one of New Zealand’s finest dining experiences.
Obtain more information and download a map from the excellent
Queenstown Trails website.
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