Family Holidays

These Short Walks Around Queenstown Are Perfect For Families

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New Zealand is a country made for walking. Whether you live in the North or South Island, you’re rarely far from a world-class hiking trail, with each isle offering incredible access to NZ’s impossibly beautiful landscapes. And we’re not just talking multi-day walks either. So while New Zealand is well known for its nine spectacular Great Walks, the country is hardly lacking in must-try one-day walks too. Aside from the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is considered the best day walk in the world, there are countless short walks in New Zealand that are suitable for the whole family, with many of them located within easy reach of New Zealand’s picturesque adventure capital, Queenstown.

While there are undeniably a lot of family activities in Queenstown, one of the best things to do in Queenstown with kids is to go for a walk. As an added bonus, walking is also the cheapest way to spend your time in town, with all trails free to access. So, with school holidays seemingly always just around the corner, here are just some of the best day walks near Queenstown.

Queenstown Hill Loop

Duration: Two to three hours
Getting there: This track starts and ends at the top of Belfast Terrace

Also known as the Queenstown Millennium Time Walk, Queenstown Hill is a local favourite. The track is easily accessible from the town centre, and consists of a 500-metre climb through a pine forest to the Te Tapu-nui summit. It’s a steady ascent, but there are plenty of places to stop for little ones to catch their breath, such as at the iconic Basket of Dreams sculpture. At the peak, your efforts will be rewarded with stunning 360-degree panoramic views of The Remarkables, the Frankton Arm, Cecil Peak and Queenstown Bay.

Bob’s Cove Scenic Reserve

Duration: One hour
Getting there: 14 kilometres from Queenstown on Glenorchy Road

If you’re looking for an exceptionally easy walk in Queenstown, Bob’s Cove is one of the most scenic options. This trail incorporates a gentle stroll through native red beech forest, historic limekilns and gumtrees to reach the beach at Bob’s Cove, then loops around the cliff top for stunning views over the pretty inlet.

Bob’s Cove. Credit: Kathrin & Stefan Marks | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Jack’s Point

Duration: Four hours
Getting there: This track starts in Jardine Park, at the end of Jack’s Point Golf Course

A much more leisurely stroll, the Jack’s Point track winds its way through open grasslands to provide picturesque views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding alpine landscape. If this trail leaves the kids keen to stay outside for longer, you can extend your walk by connecting onto the Kelvin Peninsula Track.

Lake Hayes Track

Duration: Two to three hours
Getting there: Take State Highway 6 out of Queenstown to Lake Hayes, about a 15-minute drive

Perfect for families with strollers or mobility constraints, the Lake Hayes circuit is one of the best short walks in Queenstown, providing easy access to some truly beautiful vistas. The track, which consists partly of wooden boardwalks, traces the lake’s shoreline, and snakes past a pretty picnic area that doubles as a great spot for a refreshing dip in the lake. If you’re lucky enough to visit on a calm day, the lake is famous for its stunning reflections that showcase the area’s willow trees, reeds, mountains and lakefront houses. Be sure to keep an eye out for the deep blue-coloured pukeko too, also known as the New Zealand Swamp Hen.

Lake Hayes Walkway. Credit: Bernard Spragg | CC0 1.0

Mount Crichton Scenic Reserve

Duration: Three hours
Getting there: 10 kilometres from Queenstown on Glenorchy Road

Sometimes known as the Sam Summers Hermit Hut Track, this relatively easy loop trail follows a quaint stream through native beech forest to reach the 70-year-old Sam Summer’s hut. The walk does involve a bit of a climb, but the views down to Lake Dispute and Lake Wakatipu, not to mention of the waterfalls and alpine forest, are all well worth it. Once you reach the hut, be sure to follow a nearby track that leads to a 50-metre gorge for a truly memorable sight.

Sunshine Bay Walk

Duration: One hour
Getting there: This track begins at the Fernhill roundabout

Pleasant and easy going, the Sunshine Bay Walk is a truly relaxing stroll. Along the way, you’ll be treated to occasional lake views and plenty of greenery, with a side track also providing access to the nearby Two Mile Creek Falls.

Frankton Arm Walkway

Duration: Two to three hours
Getting there: This track starts and ends near Kawarau Bridge

Located in the very heart of Queenstown, the Frankton Arm Walkway is a flat, lakeside stroll offering long views across (you guessed it) the Frankton Arm. Wonderfully peaceful and exceptionally accessible, the trail allows you to soak up The Remarkables without needing to venture far from town. The path is also very popular with cyclists, so be sure that little ones keep to the left of the trail to avoid any accidents.

Jetty Frankton Arm. Credit: Bernard Spragg | CC0 1.0

Arrowtown Millenium Walk

Duration: One hour
Getting there: Arrowtown is just a 20-minute drive from central Queenstown

Just outside of Queenstown lies the quaint historic town of Arrowtown. The 4.5-kilometre Millennium Walkway snakes along the banks of the Arrow River, and takes you past New Zealand’s first quartz mines. If you happen to be here in autumn, you’ll also be treated to a wonderful display of colour, as the nearby willow, sycamore and larch trees celebrate the changing of the seasons with a beautiful display of distinctively autumnal colours.

Sawpit Gully Trail

Duration: Three hours
Getting there: This trail begins on the Arrow River Trail

While you’re in Arrowtown, why not explore a collection of trails? The Sawpit Gully Trail begins on the Arrow River Trail, with the turn-off signposted by a big yellow arrow. From here, you will climb steadily upwards to the rim of the gully, crossing a series of streams along the way. As such, this trail is not the most suitable for really young kids. However, those who do make the effort will be rewarded with striking views over Lake Hayes and out to The Remarkables. It might not be as well-known as some of the other trails, but it’s definitely one of the best walks around Queenstown.

Sawpit Gully Trail. Credit: Curtis Simmons | CC BY-NC 2.0

Tiki Walking Trail

Duration: One-and-a-half hours
Getting there: The trail head starts at the Skyline Gondola Base building

The Queenstown Skyline Gondola is one of the town’s most popular attractions, but if you want to save yourself a bit of money and give your legs a solid work out at the same time, why not walk up to the top of the gondola instead? The Tiki Trail zig-zags its way up through Douglas fir and beech forest to reach the lookout at the top – all for free! After refuelling with a coffee and a snack, you can either retrace your steps to the bottom, or climb aboard the gondola for a relaxing descent.

The Invincible Mine Track

Duration: Three to four hours
Getting there: This track begins about 45 minutes’ drive out of Queenstown, halfway to Paradise on an unsealed road

This hike is a bit on the gruelling end of the spectrum, so is perhaps not for those families with younger kids. However, it does culminate in some jaw-dropping panoramic views, and passes some unique ruins of an old gold mine. While you can actually access the mine, entry is not recommended and visitors do so at their own risk.

Moke Lake Loop Track

Duration: One-and-a-half-hours
Getting there: This track begins on the Queenstown to Glenorchy road, before Wilsons Bay

The Moke Lake Loop Track offers the absolute best of both worlds: an easy trail with virtually no inclines, and incredibly striking scenery. As such, be sure to pack a picnic for this one, as we guarantee you’ll want to linger a little longer on the banks of the lake.

Moke Lake. Credit: oliver.dodd | CC BY 2.0

Reaching for your walking shoes in anticipation of hitting one of the above trails? Book cheap flights to Queenstown for the whole family on Webjet, and also find the perfect Queenstown accommodation for your troop, too. Or, you can combine your flights and hotel into the one booking with a Queenstown holiday package.

Hero image: Lake Hayes. Credit: Bernard Spragg | CC0 1.0

Maddison is a freelance writer specialising in adventure travel. She has written for titles in Europe, Asia and North America, and is currently planning her next escape to somewhere mountainous.

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