Queenstown is a living, breathing movie set. You can be in the town centre at a gelato shop, and still see snow-capped mountain peaks. Bundled-up people stroll down narrow streets and walk alongside the lake as if they were in a Hallmark movie. And that’s just in winter. Autumn, summer and spring come with their own magic scenes.
Despite Queenstown being the adrenaline capital of New Zealand, there are a handful of low and slow travel moments to have here, including discovering the magic of Queenstown on a leisurely walk or an at-your-own-pace trek through the mountains.
Bookmark our edit of Queenstown’s six most scenic walks for your next visit.
This track is wheelchair-accessible and winds through manicured gardens, painted in oranges and reds in Autumn or blanketed in white in winter. The track is flat and easy to walk. It takes about an hour to complete the 3km trail. Enjoy the highlights, including views of Lake Wakatipu, Cecil Peak and Walter Peak.
Frankton Arm is another wheelchair-friendly track that takes walkers alongside Lake Wakatipu’s mirrored waters. Pass by lake houses, gardens, and secret beaches. It’s the perfect track for a picnic. You can start at Queenstown Gardens and end at Frankton Beach or vice versa. The full trail is 10km one way and takes around three hours to complete, but you can break it up and make your own adventure. The jetty is a particularly scenic spot to stop and take it all in.
If you’re in the mood for something a little more remote but still on that leisurely stroll beat, head to the Sunshine Bay Track. It’s a 4km return trip that hugs the edge of Lake Wakatipu, pushing walkers into a native bush, alive with colours in spring. Take the detour to Two Mile Creek Falls, or continue around to Sunshine Bay Beach jetty for rewarding views.
If you’re game, you’ll find one of the best views of Queenstown from the Tiki Trail. It’s a 2km one-way, but it’s a steep journey. The track follows the Skyline Gondola all the way up to the building. It then winds through forests and to a lookout, which is well worth the next-day calf pain. Get a birds-eye view of Queenstown, the surrounding mountains and the giant blue lake that separates them.
Queenstown walks aren’t just limited to Lake Wakatipu. Lake Hayes is just as scenic, if not more so, and less crowded. Jump on the 8km loop for a two to three-hour walk through wetlands and hip-high grasses. Walkers are rewarded with sweeping views of the Remarkable every step of the way. If it’s a calm day, you can see the mountains reflected in the still waters, like a gigantic mirror. It’s a sight to see and, arguably, the most scenic spot in Queenstown.
If you have a spare two or three hours and want to test your endurance, this track will have you climbing to the summit of Cecil Peak. The reward? Views of the Wakatipu basin, Queenstown Bay and, of course, the impressive spine of the Southern Alps. It’s a particularly magical time at sunset, but the views are exceptional any time of the day. Even in pitch black, although we don’t recommend tackling this track at night. It’s a 500-metre climb through pine forests. Be sure to stop by the ‘Basket of Dreams’ sculpture on the journey.