A beach near Bob's Cove on a sunny day
Things to do

7 easy walks in Queenstown

Guide by Jo Williams

Last Updated 5 January 2024

Explore Queenstown and the surrounding area by foot and you will be treated to some staggering scenery.

These easy Queenstown walks follow goldfield trails, skirt around mirror-lakes, and will get you off the beaten track without even having to break a sweat.

There are of course some amazing full-day hikes near Queenstown, but these shorter, flatter routes can be done in an afternoon or even less.

Almost anyone can do them too; they are suitable for varying levels of fitness, great for families and many of them are accessible trails.   

Bob’s Cove Track and nature walk

The wharf at Bob's Cove on a cloudy day.

Where: The track starts from the trail car park, a 15-minute drive from Queenstown.

Length: Around 20 minutes each way, 4 km return.

Bob’s Cove is a stunning teal blue-watered bay on Lake Wakatipu. It’s such a romantic setting to go for an easy stroll and a refreshing swim in the bay.

The track leaves the road, heading through native bush along the lakeshore. You will also pass the lime kiln remains from the 1800s, make sure to keep an eye out for bird life along the way too.

The 2 km walk to the bay is easy for children and older visitors with only 50 metres of elevation gain to the last viewpoint at Picnic Point.

From here you can continue on along Bob's Cove Bridle Track all the way to Glenorchy, or visit the filming location of Ithilien Camp from the Lord of the Rings via the Twelve Mile Delta Track.

Lake Hayes Loop

Looking at ducks swimming on the lake from a quiet bay on the Lake Hayes loop track
  • Where: Park in the suburb of Lake Hayes, a 15-minute drive from Queenstown.

  • Length: 2 to 3 hours, 8 km loop.

Another one of the best walks in Queenstown is the loop around Lake Hayes. You don't have to walk the whole way around, many visitors just come for a short stroll to see the reflections in the lake or to enjoy the sunset.

This fairly easy trail gains around 140 metres in elevation and is good for families with children and dogs. It’s also a great spot to ride a bike, or go for a swim in summer.

Spot friendly ducks and the Australian Crested Grebe on the lake, and admire all of the beautiful cottages along the waterfront.

There isn’t really an official starting or end point as the trail is just a loop around the lake. A good place to start is at the car park at the Lake Hayes Pavilion, or you could also set off from the Lake Hayes Scenic Reserve. 

Sunshine Bay Track

The quiet Sunshine Bay on Lake Whakatipu
  • Where: Sunshine Bay Track trailhead is on the Glenorchy-Queenstown Road, a 5 minute drive from Queenstown.

  • Length: 1 hour, 4 km return.

Escape the crowds of Queenstown Beach on this local favourite. Sunshine Bay isn’t far away, but sees hardly any visitors compared to other easy walking trails near Queenstown.

Wander through the beech forest, get great views of Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown from the cliffs, and venture slightly off-trail to see Two Mile Creek Falls.

With some mild elevation gain, this isn’t an entirely flat walk, but the unpaved track is easy to navigate. You will get to walk parallel to the lakeshore for much of the way and have a relaxing break at the lovely Sunshine Bay Beach.

You can either park at One Mile car park, or walk around 20 minutes to the trailhead from Queenstown (through St Omar Park) - but note that this does involve walking on roads.

Frankton Arm Walkway

Queenstown Gardens on a sunny, spring day.
  • Where: Start at Frankton Reserve or Queenstown Bay (buses run between the two if you don't want to take the return journey)

  • Length: 3 hours return, 7 km each way.

The Frankton track, also part of the Queenstown Trail, is probably most popular with locals for exercising, but it also offers amazing views of The Remarkables and Frankton Peninsula.

The full trail runs between Queenstown Bay Beach and Frankton Beach, but you can easily shorten it. Some may only want to go around the Queenstown Gardens (a beautiful walk in itself), but the Frankton to Queenstown walk offers stops at foodie hotspots like the Altitude Brewery, and The Boatshed Cafe.

The lakeshore track is wide, flat and easy to follow with some short road sections. You can add another 6.5km on the other side of the water from Frankton to the sculpture trail on the Kelvin Peninsula.

The Frankton Arm Walkway is wheelchair accessible (including Queenstown Gardens), and is also popular with cyclists so make sure to stay vigilant to avoid any accidents.

 Moke Lake Loop

Reflections of mountains in Moke Lake.
  • Where: Start at the Moke Lake Reserve, a 20-minute drive from Queenstown.

  • Length: 2 hours, 6.5 km loop.

Though this trail isn’t as flat as some of the walks on this list, with an elevation gain of approximately 150 metres, it’s still an easy walk that can be split into smaller sections if you don’t want to complete the whole loop.

Moke Lake is a great ‘off the beaten track’ walk, with mountain views, open grassland, and a clear swimming lake. The track crosses small bridges and there are some boardwalks over protected wetlands.

This walk is popular but is often quiet due to the fact that dogs aren’t allowed on the trail and facilities at the nearby campground are quite basic. You will also need to drive for around 8 km on an unsealed gravel road past Lake Kirpatrick, so a 4x4 is recommended.

Arrow River Anniversary Track

A man walking along the Arrow River in Autumn

●      Where: Park in Arrowtown and walk to the trail head on Ramshaw Lane (behind the skateboard park).

●      Length: 1 hour, 4.2 km loop.

Now part of the Queenstown Trail, this track was originally built in 1998 to celebrate 150 years of European settlement in the area. Gold was found by a shepherd in the Arrow River in 1862, starting a huge gold rush at Arrow River Gorge and Macetown.

When the first prospectors were lured elsewhere Chinese miners were invited to keep the town from disappearing. You can still see remnants of these early lodgings at the Historic Arrowtown Chinese Settlement (wheelchair friendly).

The Arrow River Anniversary Track is a great choice on a hot sunny day, the trail gently winds under the shade of willow and sycamore trees, offering plenty of chances to take a dip in the emerald-green river. You may recognise the Arrow River as the location of the 'Ford of Bruinen' from the Lord of the Rings films.

Glenorchy Lagoon Scenic Walkway

Reflections of the mountains in Lake Whakatipu in Glenorchy.
  • Where: The trail starts from the Glenorchy Wharf, a 45-minute drive from Queenstown.

  • Length: 1 or 2 hours, 5 km loop.

Glenorchy is a great place to do a day trip from Queenstown. The drive itself offers some stunning views and lots of opportunities for photo stops. Glenorchy is also less crowded in summer, so this is a great walk to avoid the crowds in Queenstown.

Starting at the ‘head’ of Lake Wakatipu at the Glenorchy Wharf, you will notice the Glenorchy Restored Steamship Depot not far from the start of the trail. Following the boardwalk you will make your way around the Glenorchy Lagoon, crossing wetlands filled with bird life such as kingfisher, Paradise shelduck, and black swans.

In the lagoon, you will see mirror-like reflections of the stunning Humboldt Mountains. A bridge creates a shorter loop if you don’t want to walk the full track, but the entire trail is flat and accessible to all.