Queenstown and around on two-wheels

Published 2020-01-20

With almost endless riding opportunities and spectacular vistas around every corner, Queenstown is a dream destination for cycling. From leisurely lakeside jaunts and winery rides, to super-scenic cross-country tours and technical mountain biking terrain, there are adventures to suit everyone.

Passionate local bike hire and tour operators make it easy. They’ll help you choose the right ride, fit the right bike, and take care of all the logistics so you can focus on having fun.

Here are some ideas to get you rolling.

Queenstown Trail

One of 23 Ngā Haerenga Great Rides of New Zealand, the Queenstown Trails are an impressive network of off-road cycling routes linking Queenstown, Arrowtown and the Gibbston Valley.

Graded easy to intermediate, their seven themed trails are a fantastic way to explore the region and reach major sights while soaking up gorgeous scenery along the way.

Epic views abound (credit Queenstown Trail).

The easiest is the Frankton & Kelvin Peninsula Ride, starting in central Queenstown. Ideal for beginners and families, with cafes en route, it traces the lake edge for 2–3 hour outing with the jagged Remarkables a stunning backdrop.

Starting in pretty Arrowtown, the Arrow Rivers Bridges Ride is a firm favourite following a gently undulating path beside the picturesque Kawarau and Shotover rivers. Highlights include majestic panoramas and the beautifully restored Shotover Bridge.

It connects with the Gibbston River Wine Trail, which wends through divine wine country and an unmissable stop-off at iconic Kawarau Bridge – home to the world’s original bungy jump site. 

Gibbston River Trail – world-class wine and gorgeousness! (Destination Queenstown).

There are countless other options, made easy with great maps, clear trail signage and multiple access points, as well as conveniently located bike hire, guided rides and shuttle transport.

Read more here.

Around the Mountains Trail

Another of the 23 Great Rides, this 3–5 day epic can be broken into day rides easily accessible from Queenstown.

This memorable biking adventure kicks off with a scenic cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw to reach historic Mt Nicholas Station. From there, this trail traces the lake’s western shore with panoramic views towards the Southern Alps, before heading south towards Mavora Lakes through Lord-Of-The-Rings-worthy landscapes.

Elegant and under steam – the historic TSS Earnslaw (Destination Queenstown). 

The Southland end of the trail passes through spectacular open country flanked by towering mountains. For a taster, head to the tiny town of Athol for an easy and pretty ride back to Kingston, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu.

Taking 2–3 hours, the Athol to Kingston ride passes the wooden ‘Golden Gate’ suspension bridges, Garston township, and historic Fairlight Station. Interesting glacial moraine geology and grand lake views bookend the journey as you approach Kingston on the shores of Wakatipu.

Read more here.

One of the beautiful Golden Gate bridges (bennettandslater.co.nz).

Other Mountain Bike Parks & Trails

Between show-stopping landscapes and an amazing diversity of terrain, it’s no wonder Queenstown vies for the crown of New Zealand’s ultimate mountain biking destination. And everyone from beginners to pros can get in on the action.

The must-do is Queenstown Bike Park, combining the Skyline gondola ride up to Bob’s Peak with an awesome array of downhill trails through mixed forest. Mostly intermediate to expert, they offer all sorts of speedy, sweeping, jumping fun stuff as well as grand vistas across Lake Wakatipu.

But there’s plenty more where that came from, including cross-country adventures such as Moke Lake Circuit, and the Macetown Track near Arrowtown that illuminates glittering gold rush history as it traces its way into remote hills.

Other MTB hotspots include chairlift-assisted Coronet Peak, and historic Skipper’s Canyon which boasts Rude Rock trail, a downhill single-track masterpiece now famous the world over.

For the ultimate MTB buzz, riders can get up high and off the beaten track on a heli-biking trip, combining a once-in-a-lifetime scenic flight with epic trails swooping through backcountry normally off limits to the public.

Useful links

Around the Mountains Cycle Trail

Queenstown Trails

Great South

Queenstown NZ