Best Day-hikes in Queenstown, New Zealand

My pick of the best full day-hikes around Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital, with a few shorter options thrown in.

Queenstown is truly a hiker’s paradise. There’s dramatic scenery in all directions, and the mountains are filled with well maintained hiking trails. And as a major adventure-tourism destination the area is well serviced and cosmopolitan.

Plenty of tourists visit the area, and yet it seems the majority of people choose not to go hiking. In fact, I’ve sometimes not seen a single other person on the best hikes in the area. So if you are willing to put in the effort, you can have New Zealand’s magical scenery mostly to yourself.

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Crown Peak ascent, near Arrowtown NZ

Excellent winter scenery on the ascent up Crown Peak (1735m) from in Arrowtown, near Queenstown. 360 degree views from the summit are a highlight.

The walk up Crown Peak (1735m) from Arrowtown is yet another underrated hike near Queenstown. There were excellent 360 degree views from the summit rocks, and a variety of scenery with Central Otago’s roly-poly mountains and wrinkly ridgelines, some pointy peaks, valleys, the Wakatipu Basin, and a nice angle on Lake Wakatipu itself. Continue reading “Crown Peak ascent, near Arrowtown NZ”

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), near Arrowtown NZ

The wrinkly mountains and valleys at the back of Arrowtown are a highlight of this walk up Brow Peak (1456m).

This walk up Brow Peak (1456m) was a real find for me when I first did it in the summer of 2018/19. A really high quality walk that I hadn’t done yet, just out the back of Arrowtown, and so only about 25 minutes drive from Queenstown. At that time I started the walk in the afternoon, finishing not much before dusk. The fading light cast shadows over numerous wrinkly mountains and valleys, which made for excellent views on the way back in particular. In winter you pretty much get this lighting all day, plus some snow to top it all off (literally). Continue reading “Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle (winter), near Arrowtown NZ”

Rock Peak from Crown Saddle, Pisa Conservation Area, Otago NZ

A straightforward walk to Rock Peak (1490m) through tussock grass at the southern end of the Pisa Conservation Area.

This walk from Crown Saddle (1070m) to Rock Peak (1490m) provides easy access to the tussock-grassed Pisa Conservation Area. It’s easy walking along a vehicle track, and there are views the whole way over the Crown Range, the Wakatipu Basin, including the back of the Remarkables, and the Gibbston Valley wine region. Continue reading “Rock Peak from Crown Saddle, Pisa Conservation Area, Otago NZ”

Queens Drive – Wye Creek Circuit, The Remarkables NZ

A dramatic and sometimes hair raising circuit walk high up in The Remarkables Range above Queenstown.

This lesser known walk in the prominent and dramatic Remarkables Range near Queenstown is a real humdinger, and will feel quite adventurous for all but the more experienced hikers. After a shortish climb to Shadow Basin Lookout from the ski field car park, there are extensive views over Lake Wakatipu and surrounds, then stark cliffs and hair raising drop offs on Queens Drive, which runs across the western face of the Remarkables at 2000m of elevation.  The walk then enters an extensive boulder field with the Remarkables summit cliffs towering overhead, followed by the picturesque Wye Creek Basin, and then back to the skifields via Lake Alta. Continue reading “Queens Drive – Wye Creek Circuit, The Remarkables NZ”

Brow Peak via Big Hill Saddle, Arrowtown NZ

Brow Peak (1456m) near Arrowtown is an accessible mountain with fabulous views north over wrinkly golden brown mountains, and south over the Wakatipu Basin.

Brow Peak (1456m) is an accessible mountain near Arrowtown, and climbing it provides excellent views of golden brown mountains to the north, and of the Wakatipu Basin to the south. It starts on the fairly well trodden Sawpit Gully Circuit, but once off this you might not meet another person. And the approach to the summit along a  sometimes narrow ridge feels just a little adventurous, adding to the appeal of this walk. There’s also a very pleasant stand of beech forest on the way to Big Hill Saddle.

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New Chums Gully Circuit, Arrowtown NZ

A shortish circuit walk out the back of Arrowtown that offers pleasant rather than spectacular scenery.

There are various tracks out the back of Arrowtown, and although to see the best scenery you have to climb some of the peaks (such as Brow Peak and Crown Peak) on long day walks, the shortish trails closer to town offer a bit of variety for when you’ve done the more famous tracks in the Queenstown area. And you can fit many of the options into a half day. The New Chums Gully Circuit is just such a walk, and you may not see anybody else along the mid-section  of this route.  When you’ve finished, Arrowtown makes for a nice, albeit touristy spot for afternoon tea. Continue reading “New Chums Gully Circuit, Arrowtown NZ”

Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ

A really excellent walk to a minor peak on Mt Crichton. Fabulous mountain and lake views almost the whole way, and a good work out too.

The climb up Mt Crichton near Queenstown was one of our best walks to date. And even if you don’t visit one of the summit peaks you’ll still feel a sense of achievement and wonder by going as far as the minor peak at 1723m. Be prepared for quite a work out though, as much of it is steep and on a sometimes obscure route. Continue reading “Mt Crichton to pt. 1723m, near Queenstown NZ”

Queenstown Hill Walk, Queenstown NZ

As the name suggests, Queenstown Hill is on the very edge of the town itself. For just moderate effort you can climb 500m on a well formed track to 907m of elevation and grandstand views of Lake Wakatipu, The Remarkables, Cecil Peak and Ben Lomond.

The Queenstown Hill Walk provides excellent views for moderate effort, and it’s highly convenient, starting just on the edge of town. From the small car park you ascend steadily through a forest of wilding pines, some of them humongous, then after emerging above the tree line it’s a short but steep ascent to the summit. The 360 degree views include the Remarkables, Lake Wakatipu, Cecil and Walter Peaks, and Ben Lomond. Continue reading “Queenstown Hill Walk, Queenstown NZ”

Jacks Point Track, Queenstown area NZ

The Jacks Point Track runs along the foreshore of Lake Wakatipu between Kelvin Heights and Jacks Point, providing views of the areas most impressive mountain peaks including the aptly named Remarkables, and Cecil Peak on the opposite side of the lake.

It snowed on the last day of our trip to Queenstown in late Autumn 2017, and so we took advantage of this relative novelty by doing the Jacks Point Track, which starts just behind the house where we stay. This walk provides excellent views over the remarkable Remarkables, as well as Lake Wakatipu, and various mountains on the other side of the lake, the most prominent of which is Cecil Peak. Continue reading “Jacks Point Track, Queenstown area NZ”