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There are a ton of amazing hikes in Queenstown, and the best part is that some of them are really easy! That’s right, if you’re looking for a quick and easy hike in Queenstown then you have a few great options to choose from.
This blog includes what I consider to be 10 epic, but easy, hikes in Queenstown. The hikes I’ve chosen all start from right in Queenstown (or super close nearby), are family-friendly, and offer some pretty special views.
1. Queenstown Gardens Lakefront Loop
Distance: 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) total
Elevation gain: 0
Difficulty: Very easy
Time needed: 30 minutes to an hour
Type of trail: Loop
The easiest walk you can do in Queenstown is the trail in the Queenstown Botanical Gardens. The Queenstown Gardens are located right in the center of Queenstown and depending on where you’re staying in Queenstown, there’s a good chance you can walk there right from your hotel!
The standard Queenstown Gardens Lakefront Loop is 2 kilometers long (1.2 miles) with additional paths and shortcuts to either extend or shorten your hike. There are trail maps posted at the entrance of the Gardens as well as along the trail.
It’s a well-maintained trail that is flat and takes you through a series of gardens, along Lake Wakatipu’s shoreline, and through a forest before looping back to the beginning. It’s more of a stroll rather than a hike and would be suitable for all fitness levels. In the Spring (September to November) the flowers are absolutely stunning and make for some great photos!
There is more to do at the Queenstown Gardens than just walking the trail. I always like to go there to spend a couple of hours either sitting on a bench with a book or taking advantage of the frisbee golf course (bring your own frisbee.) Sometimes there are events hosted in the Queenstown Gardens too such as the annual light festival LUMA Queenstown.
If you want to make your walk through the gardens more interesting you can do it standing atop a segway! The Queenstown Segway Tour actually goes right along the coast and through the gardens – definitely a fun way to mix things up!
The Queenstown Gardens are open every day and they are one of the few free things to do in Queenstown.
2. Mt Crichton Loop Track
Distance: 8 kilometers (5 miles) total
Elevation gain: 370 meters (1213 feet)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Time Needed: 2 hours
Type of trail: Loop
Mt Crichton Loop hike is a super unique and easy hike in Queenstown. Not only is it a beautiful hike that offers some pretty nice mountain views, but it’s also a bit of a history lesson. You’ll explore an old mining tunnel from the gold rush days as well as an old home that is now an operating Department of Conservation (DOC) hiking hut.
Along the trail, you’ll also see a beautiful waterfall and cross a couple of bridges. The hike starts in the forest and along a creek before it begins to incline to a viewpoint. Although on the longer side at 8 kilometers (5 miles), this track is still very easy with its well-maintained trail and gradual incline.
You can also opt to walk a shorter and easier version of Mt Crichton Loop. To do this, be sure to turn left when you reach the fork near the beginning of the trail. Walking in this direction will take you to a bridge, the mining tunnel, Sam Summers Hut, and the waterfall within only a couple of kilometers. Turn around after checking out the waterfall and go back the way you came. Hiking this route is much easier as it removes the entire elevation gain (but you’ll miss out on the viewpoint.)
You’ll find the Mt Crichton Loop trailhead just on the outskirts of Queenstown as you drive towards Glenorchy. You can park at the Twelve Mile Delta Campground or the specific Mt Crichton parking lot.
3. Lake Hayes Walkway
Distance: 8 kilometers (5 miles) return
Elevation gain: 140 meters (459 feet)
Time needed: 2-3 hours
Type of trail: Loop
The Lake Hayes Walkway is a loop track that circles around Lake Hayes. Lake Hayes is a small lake located just on the outskirts of Queenstown in the suburb of – you guessed it – Lake Hayes! It’s about a 15-minute drive from Queenstown town center on the way towards Wanaka or Cromwell.
The Lake Hayes Walkway is fairly flat and is super easy to follow. Along the Lake Hayes Walkway, there are plenty of opportunities to stop and relax. In the warmer summer months, you could always cool off by jumping in the lake! Expect to also see lots of ducks who are definitely not afraid of people. It really is a family-friendly trail in Queenstown.
Of course, if the 8-kilometer (5 miles) distance is a bit too much, don’t walk the entire loop. You can park at one of the many parking spaces around the lake and just walk as far as you feel. I often visit Lake Hayes for sunset and only walk for about 10 minutes or so until I find a nice place to sit down and enjoy the colorful views.
4. Glenorchy Walkway
Distance: 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) total
Elevation gain: 0
Time needed: 1-2 hours
Type of Trail: Loop
This hike is probably one of the absolute easiest on this list, and also one of the best hikes in Queenstown for families on holidays. I say this for a few reasons. First of all, visiting Glenorchy on a day trip from Queenstown is a great way to spend a day. The drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy is beautiful and offers lots of unique places to check out along the way like Bob’s Cove, Mt Crichton Loop, and Moke Lake.
Then once you get to Glenorchy, the Glenorchy Walkway trail actually starts at one of the best free attractions in Glenorchy – the old steamship dispatch shed! From here, the trail is super flat and takes you to the Glenorchy Lagoon. Expect various boardwalks to explore the lagoon, lots of birds, and mirror-like reflections of the stunning Humboldt Mountains. It’s really a special spot that is often very quiet and free of crowds.
The Glenorchy Walkway is also short and sweet, leaving you with more time to enjoy all of the other fun things to do in Glenorchy. Drive out to Paradise where many scenes in the Lord of the Rings films were filmed, pet animals at the Glenorchy Animal Farm, or check out Mt Aspiring National Park and go on a day hike on the Routeburn Track (more on that below!)
Related Read: The Glenorchy Walkway is one of the best hikes in Glenorchy – read about them all!
5. Moke Lake Loop
Distance: 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) total
Elevation gain: About 150 meters (492 feet)
Time needed: 2-3 hours
Type of trail: Loop
Moke Lake is another beautiful lake near Queenstown that can be reached with only a 20-minute drive from the town center. Head out of Queenstown towards Glenorchy and turn right onto Moke Lake Road after about 10 minutes. From here, it’s another 10-minute drive along a well-maintained gravel road to reach Moke Lake.
Once at Moke Lake you’ll see a trail that circles around the lake. This trail is 6.5 kilometers long (4 miles) with only an elevation gain of approximately 150 meters (492 feet). Like other loop tracks mentioned in this blog, you don’t have to complete the entire thing and can simply walk around the lake as far as you want before turning around. The trail crosses a couple of bridges and offers beautiful views of the lake and surrounding mountain peaks.
Other than hiking, there are actually lots of other things to do at Moke Lake including fishing, camping, and kayaking. It’s a special place to spend a few hours, and if you plan on camping here, on a clear night the stars are spectacular!
6. Bob’s Cove
Distance: Approximately 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) return
Elevation gain: About 50 meters (165 feet)
Time needed: 30 minutes
Type of trail: Out and back
Bob’s Cove Lookout Track is a very short trail also located along the road to Glenorchy. The trail is a short 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) that offers a view unlike the other hikes around Queenstown. To me, it’s one of the best hikes on the entire South Island!
Bob’s Cove is a bay on Lake Wakatipu that with its bright turquoise water and lush vegetation seems to resemble a gorgeous ocean bay more so than the mountainous lake in which it is. It’s unique and beautiful.
Along Bob’s Cove Track you’ll reach a beach area that is perfect for relaxing or swimming (if you can brave the cold water.) You’ll also find a jetty with a nice lookout. After the jetty, the trail gets steep until you reach the lookout point. Although steep, it’s only a short climb to the top before you descend back down the other side.
There is a small parking lot at the trailhead of Bob’s Cove Track which can be found on Google Maps. It’s only about a 10-minute drive from Queenstown and is accessible all year round.
Related Read: Bob’s Cove is so beautiful that it actually is one of the most romantic things to do in Queenstown!
7. Bob’s Peak Skyline Loop
Distance:1.5 kilometers (0.93 miles) total
Elevation gain: 50 meters (164 feet)
Difficulty: Very easy
Time needed: 20 minutes
If you’re looking for an easy hike with seriously epic views then the Skyline Loop is it! There’s only one catch, you must first take the Skyline Gondola up the mountain to reach the trailhead at Bobs Peak.
While this does cost $46 NZD per adult and $32 NZD per child, it’s a fun experience on its own and in my opinion, one of the best things to do in Queenstown. You can catch the gondola from the station on Brecon Street right in Queenstown town center. It’s about a 5-minute ride before you’re at the top of Bob’s Peak.
From here, the views are already amazing. However, if you want a fun and quick hike to do then you can follow the signs behind the building for the Skyline Loop. The trail loops up towards where the Luge starts and then comes back around to where it started. You only need about 20 minutes to hike this trail and it is signposted.
Harder hike option: If you’re up for a challenge, another option is to hike Ben Lomond Track from the Skyline Building up at Bob’s Peak. This is not an easy hike by any means, but totally worth the challenge if you’re up for it! Alternatively, you can skip riding the gondola up to Bob’s Peak and hike the Tiki Trail instead. The Tiki Trail is a steep climb up from Queenstown, but hey – it’s free!
8. Queenstown Hill
Distance: 2.5 kilometers (1.55 miles) one way, 5 kilometers return
Elevation gain: About 600 meters (1,968 feet) from downtown Queenstown
Time needed: 2 to 3 hours
Type of trail: Out and back
Okay, time for my personal favorite easy hike in Queenstown (and one of the best hikes in New Zealand!) In all honesty, I contemplated leaving Queenstown Hill off this list simply because many people would not necessarily consider it “easy”. But I think that with its well-maintained trail that’s only 5 kilometers return (3.1 miles), Queenstown Hill can be classified as an easy to moderate-difficulty hike.
The one thing that makes hiking Queenstown Hill more challenging than the other hikes on this list is the elevation gain. From downtown Queenstown, you gain about 600 meters (1,968 feet) in elevation – which is actually quite a lot! With that said, if you drive up to the trailhead on Belfast Terrace, you’ll knock off about 200 meters (656 feet) in elevation. You’ll need to get there early or be really lucky to snag a parking spot though because this parking lot is tiny.
The views from the top of Queenstown Hill Summit are incredible, and if you ask me, totally worth the climb. I love to visit for sunrise when the trail is the least busy and the views are even more beautiful with a colorful sky.
Queenstown Hill can be hiked all year round, but just watch out for icy sections and snow during the winter months (May to October.) You should also prepare for this hike with some essential hiking tips to ensure you have a safe and fun time!
Related Read: For more ideas of hikes and other things to do in Queenstown in the winter, read my blog!
9. Lake Esplanade Walk
Distance: 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) one way, 2 kilometers return
Elevation gain: 0
Difficulty: Very easy
Time needed: 20 minutes
Type of trail: Point to point
Okay, so this one isn’t an official trail per se, but it’s really gorgeous and well worth checking out. From Steamer Warf or Earnslaw Park in Queenstown town center, head to your right (if you’re facing the lake) and continue until you reach a grassy area with a walking trail.
This walking trail follows Lake Wakatipu’s shoreline crossing through St Omer’s Park and various viewpoints. St Omer’s Park is actually a great place to go for lunch or dinner as they have free public BBQs available. The views of The Remarkables mountain range is stunning and there are plenty of grassy areas to relax on.
As you continue on, this trail goes to the One Mile parking lot. In the summer months, you’ll find Flyboard Queenstown here as well as kayak and paddleboard rentals. If you turn back here, the entire trail is 1 kilometer long (.62 miles), making it 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) total to get back to Queenstown again. You can continue further if you want though, either along the lake towards Sunshine Bay, or heading up the hill towards Fernhill.
The Lake Esplanade Trail is very easy taking less than 20 minutes to complete. It’s also completely flat and even wheelchair accessible!
10. Routeburn Nature Walk
Length: Around 8 – 10 kilometers (5-6.2 miles) return
Time needed: 3 to 4 hours
Who says the Routeburn Track is hard?! That’s right, you can easily hike a section of the Routeburn Track on a day hike from Queenstown – and it’s easy!
The section of the Routeburn track from Routeburn Shelter to Bridal Veil Falls is absolutely stunning, and it’s pretty easy too. This trail is often referred to as the Routeburn Nature Walk, which makes sense as that’s exactly what it is. A beautiful walk through a moody forest surrounded by trees, moss, and the bluest river you’ve probably ever seen.
You can reach the trailhead by driving for about an hour from Queenstown, or 20 minutes from Glenorchy to Routeburn Shelter. There is plenty of parking here and the trail is well marked and easy to find. Unlike the entire Routeburn Track, this section of the trail is fine to hike at any time of the year from Queenstown.
Walk along the track as long as you want before turning around and returning back to the parking lot. I recommend going until you make it to Bridal Veil Falls. It’s a nice waterfall to check out and a good point to turn back if you want to avoid any challenging uphill sections.
Must-Do Activities While in Queenstown
While in Queenstown there are plenty of other activities that will keep you busy… Honestly, there are so many it’ll be hard to choose which ones to do! Below are some of my favorites.
- Central Otago Wine Tour and Tasting – This is my personal favorite wine tour in Queenstown! It is one of the best values for money, for $215 NZD your tour bus will stop at 4 different boutique wineries in the Otago region that include a wide range of wine samples and a provided gourmet lunch platter. As you hop between wineries you’ll gaze out the window at spectacular views.
- TSS Earnslaw Steamship Cruise – This scenic and relaxing cruise in Queenstown is an activity great for any afternoon. The ship you will be cruising on is the Historic TSS Earnslaw and you will get to watch crew members add coal to the flames that power the vessel. Take in the mountain ranges and lush green valleys of Otago. You can also upgrade this tour here to include dinner at Walter Peak High Country Farm.
- Queenstown Canyoning Adventure – Climb and jump off waterfalls, rappel, swim, and trek your way down a part of a Queenstown canyon with a qualified guide. This thrilling full-day activity is perfect for those who love adventure and exploration! As long as you aren’t afraid of heights and have a basic swimming ability you won’t need any other skills.
- Day Trip to Milford Sound With Picnic Lunch – This tour will give you the ultimate ability to explore the beauty of Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park. Not only will your guide stop at several impressive viewpoints on the way from Queenstown but there is also a cruise in Milford Sound included. This small-group tour goes for $249 NZD a person and I think it’s a really great value for a more personalized experience.
- Extreme Jet Boating – Looking for a thrill? Jet Boating is one of New Zealand’s most unique activities. On the tour out of Queenstown, you’ll be able to zoom up the Shotover River through narrow canyons at high speeds and make 360-degree spins. Trust, me it’s epic!
Where to Stay in Queenstown
Finding the right place to stay in Queenstown can be hard. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of awesome choices, but things book up fast! For that reason, I highly suggest booking your accommodation well in advance.
Honestly, during peak times, any of the best hotels in Queenstown will be fully booked several weeks in advance…you have been warned! To help you plan ahead, here are a few places I personally love and that would make an awesome place to stay in Queenstown.
Kamana Lakehouse – $$$
For a luxurious stay, I highly recommend Kamana Lakehouse. This hotel is located just on the outskirts of town. Although it’s super peaceful, it’s just a 5-minute drive into the center of town. The place overlooks both the lake and the mountains, and the onsite restaurant uses local, seasonal ingredients to create the freshest meals. To top it off, many of the rooms boast lake views, and some even have outdoor baths!
The trick will be snagging this for your dates (it’s a popular place!). Rooms start around the $400 NZD mark, and you can check availability and book online here.
La Quinta Queenstown – $$
If you’re looking for a mid-range hotel, then you should seriously consider La Quinta Queenstown. This beautiful hotel is right by the airport but still very quiet. Plus, the views are amazing (although you won’t find me recommending a place without great views!). The rooms are all studio or one-bedroom apartments, which is really handy if you want to cook or even just have breakfast in your room.
Prices start at $200 NZD and you can book online here.
Absoloot Hostel Queenstown – $
My top choice for budget travelers is the Absoloot Hostel Queenstown. This small hostel has dorm rooms and budget private rooms, and it’s really clean and comfortable. The location is in the heart of Queenstown – the window from the kitchen looks out over Lake Wakatipu!
Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand
Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!
You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:
- Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
- Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It’s what most budget travelers use for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping…and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime! My favorite campervan rental company is JUCY because they have a huge selection of campervans to choose from, plus multiple pick-up/drop-off locations. You can browse JUCY’s campervan selection online here. Alternatively, you can easily compare all campervans available in NZ on Motorhome Republic here.
- Motorhome – A motorhome is larger and more comfortable than a campervan. Many motorhomes will comfortably sleep 6 or more people – perfect for a family visiting New Zealand. Motorhomes are the most expensive option, but with one you won’t ever need to stay in a hotel and you’ll save money that way. My top choice for a motorhome company is Star RV because they have beautiful motorhomes at affordable prices. You can check prices and availability for Star RV motorhomes online here. Alternatively, you can use Motorhome Republic to search all motorhomes in NZ. For more detailed info, read my complete guide to renting a motorhome in New Zealand!
EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE: I’ve managed to snag a discount code for 5% off for my readers if you book your JUCY or Star RV campervan or motorhome before the end of June 2024! Simply click here to select your JUCY campervan, or click here to select your Star RV motorhome, and then use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off – it’s that easy! One thing to note is that this code is only valid for travel before Dec 21, 2024.
Travel Insurance Has Your Back!
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Since using SafetyWing we’ve been reimbursed thousands of dollars when we’ve gotten sick. During the pandemic, they’ve even gone as far as to pay for our last-minute flights back to Canada before the border closed!
Thanks for reading!
I love that there are so many easy hikes in Queenstown. The trails I’ve mentioned in this blog make hiking accessible to practically everyone, which is awesome because the great outdoors is what Queenstown is all about! These hikes are truly some of the best activities in and around Queenstown!
Of course, there are other easy trails around Queenstown, and if you think I’ve missed a great one please let me know in the comments below. Also, if you have any questions be sure to leave them for me too, I’m more than happy to answer the best I can!
If you are traveling more around the South Island, be sure to drive from Queenstown to Mount Cook. There are lots of easy hikes in Mount Cook too that are well worth checking out! Or browse some of my other related guides below: