Let me cut to the chase. I’m here to show you how to explore Queenstown like a local. Do more. See more and spend less on your next visit.

What’s the catch?

It will take some extra planning, effort and fitness. Locals here get after it. Maybe these tips won’t suit you. Maybe you will want to pay more for some luxury… you are on holiday after all…

That being said I’m sure you will enjoy some of these tips. Have a read and take away what you will.

Tip 1: Walk…

Queenstown is stacked with epic walking / hiking /tramping trails.

These are all FREE!!! Crazy right!

You could literally spend weeks exploring Queenstown walking on FREE trails until your legs fell off!

That’s probably a bit too much walking, so let’s look at narrowing down the field.

Queenstown Hill Walking Track. Credit: Destination Queenstown.

Top 3 walking tracks close to Queenstown.

1 – Mt Crichton Loop Track : 2-2.5 hours

An easy walk through stunning Beach Forrest, that takes you past old gold mining history, including Sam Summers hut. This loop packs a lot of punch in terms of its distance / effort to scenery ratio… a good track for all abilities. Track start is only a 15min drive from Queenstown.

2 – Queenstown Hill : 2-2.5 hours

Located right above Queenstown, the Queenstown Hill walking track is a favourite amongst the locals. 1.5km of walking allows you to climb 200m up to “The Basket of Dreams”. Shorter and steeper than the Mt Crichton Loop, this track will take you just as long (approx 2hrs), but will reward with a truely stunning vista. For the strong and fit, there is the added option of continuing up another 100m of vert to the top of the hill. The views from here are even better!

3 – Ben Lomond : 6-8 hours

This is the big one. Accessed from near the base of the Skyline Gondola take the Tiki Trail up to where the Gondola delivers the “lazy” (smart) ones. Then follow the signs that say “Ben Lomond Walking Track”. Here you begin your journey into the back country and climb upwards to the Ben Lomond Saddle (approx 3-4 hours from the bottom of the Tiki Trail). The views from the saddle are already epic and this is a worthwhile walk on its’ own. It is a further 1-2 hours to the summit of Ben Lomond from the saddle and the trail is much steeper and more demanding. Upon reaching the summit you will reap the rewards of your effort. The views are sensational. It takes most people 6-8 hours to complete this journey.

Tip 2: Bike…

Biking is a brilliant way to see a lot of Queenstown for not much moolah. It can cost as little as $55 to hire a mountain bike for a full day of exploration.

Add a shuttle drop off to your booking and suddenly you are only riding the trail one way and seeing twice as much.

The Southern Discoveries Bridge, a highlight of the Bridges Trail
Southern Discoveries Bridge – Arrow River Trail. Credit: Around The Basin.

I won’t blabber on about how good our Queenstown Trail network is (how it’s the most popular of New Zealand’s Great Rides and how there is over 140km (and growing) of gravel trail for you to explore… exceptional scenery and blah blah blah). But just know, you don’t have to be a biking wizard to get out and ride. Choose an electric bike, ride through wineries, ride for a half day… there are options for all. Our Queenstown Trail network is fun to ride and entertaining for all abilities.

Alternatively, you could try some down hilling if you are skilled and confident! The Queenstown Bike Park is a world class facility, but you must have the skills to match! Most people find that the Queenstown Trail Network is the best option for them.

Some of the best ways to explore the Queenstown Trail are linked here.

Tip 3: Do a roady!

Queenstown is the perfect base to explore from. Get out on the road and spend the time looking around, you won’t regret it.

The road to Glenorchy. Credit: trip.com

Road trip example itinerary 

7.30am: Wake Up (a necessary step)

Yeah I know you’re on holiday, but let’s get the show on the road and make the most of this road trip day.

8.00AM (ish): Drive 20min to Arrowtown

Get up, get showered and dressed and hit the road. 20 minutes of driving will get you to Arrowtown. It’s beautiful here. There is gold mining history (be sure to stroll the main street to see the block of heritage buildings), there are shops, there are lovely walking (and biking) trails and there are some brilliant cafes!

I would recommend breakfast at Provisions or Chop Shop. Get caffeinated, be fed and prepare for the next leg of your journey.

10.00AM: Depart Arrowtown and drive towards Cromwell.

After a stroll around Arrowtown and letting your brekki settle the next leg of the journey begins. Drive out to the Kawarau Bungy and observe or partake in the jumping madness!! It’s fun to watch, but even more fun to do. Nice job, legend.

11:AM: Onwards you drive, past the bungy and down the Gibbston Valley, past stunning wineries, on towards Cromwell. Just before you reach Cromwell, turn right into Bannockburn

It’s time to stretch the legs and earn your lunch. Stroll through the Bannockburn Sluicings and marvel at the wild west landscape left behind by the gold miners.

12.45PM: I bet you’re getting hungry!

Drive a further 45min to Wānaka and enjoy a late lunch at the Big Fig. These guys do a mean feed. Slow cooked food, served fast!

2.30PM: After a relaxed lunch why not take a moment to chill… literally! Jump in the lake…I dare ya! Lie in the sun, warm your soul. 

Swing buy the Wānaka Tree… you may as well see what all the fuss is about… 

5.00PM: Depart Wanaka and drive 30min to Cardrona. Check out the Cardrona Distillery, they do a great tour.

Wander across the road and take a seat at the famous Cardrona Hotel. Dinner here is great! The atmosphere of this restaurant is relaxed and cosy. A great place to wind down.

8pm: Back to Queenstown

What a day! Time to go home. It only takes 50min to get back to Queenstown. 

Reflect on what you have seen and done… what a loop!

Other road trip ideas

This is just one of many ways to get around and see our region. Other ideas might include a drive to Glenorchy where you can spy a glacier from the road! For more road trip ideas and details see what Destination Queenstown have to say.

Tip 4: Get yourself a Fergburger

Yeah I know, this one is cliché… but Ferg is pretty darn good. However, don’t wait forever for this feed. If the line is big, flag it. There are many alternatives to Fergburger that are just as good…

Try these other options below:

If you are doing takeaway, there is a great spot to go eat! Have you heard about Perky’s? It’s a floating bar that allows you to BYO food. Go grab a beer from them and enjoy the setting sun over the water while munching on your takeaways.

Smiths Burgers. Credit: Queenstown.com

Tip 5: Visit the craft breweries  

Queenstown is now home to 4 main craft breweries. They are all worth a look. You’ll find them packed with hairy locals, hanging out talking about mountain adventures, sipping delicious craft beer.

Altitude Beer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip 6: The Earnslaw isn’t boring

The TSS Earnslaw is a “Twin Screw Steamer” built around the same time as the Titanic.

It’s a beautiful boat and taking a cruse over the lake to Walter Peak Station is a voyage enjoyed by local and tourist alike. Trust me, it’s anything but boring. 

The Earnslaw. Credit: Real Journeys.

Walter Peak Station is stunning, historic and continues to be a well maintained working farm. They’ll feed you with a high quality buffet if you take the evening dinner cruse. It’s a meal to remember! This buffet doesn’t sacrifice quality, and you still get quantity! What’s not to like about that. 

After the meal there is a farm show… which sounds abut boring from a kiwi’s perspective…. but again this is done so well that even if you have spent time on a farm before you will still be well entertained.

The gentle cruse back to town is relaxing and peaceful. You’ll be back in town around 10pm.

Tip 7: Luge and Gondy 

Have you been on a Luge before? They’re a nifty invention. Something between a go-cart and a bob-sled…

The Luge. Credit: Skyline Queenstown.

Ride up on the Skyline Gondola and then do some laps on the Luge. A guaranteed good time. Put a wager on it. Make it a competition and get after it.

 

Tip 8: Get Air-born

This really is a must. It’s also not as crazy expensive as you might imagine. There are shorter and more affordable flying options to choose from. There are a couple of local scenic spots that involve very short flights (so not to pricy) but the views are still unreal! Be taken up to Cecil Peak or onto the West Face of Remarkables. 

GForce flying above Queenstown. Credit: Gforce.

Another option that is synonyms with Queenstown is to go for a paraglide! Gliding off the hills above Queenstown is a very special sensation. GForce is the company flying from above the Gondola and the flight over town is a great change in perspective!!! You can also enjoy a slightly longer flight if you choose Coronet Peak as your launch site.

Jumping in a small plane is another fantastic option and will give you a much broader overview of our mountainous region. You could even land in Milford… 

 

Tip 9: Milford…

Queenstown is the base from which people explore Milford. As mentioned above, you can fly right into Milford (in about 45min)… but a road trip in there is also a great option (although much longer, taking around 3hrs 40min one way). On your drive you will see the landscape change dramatically. Driving south you will follow lake Wakatipu, enter into Southland farming country, stop in Te Anau, enter Fiordland National Park and then be enveloped as the mountains begin to tower over you! Eventually you will pass through the Homer Tunnel and descend to Milford Sound. The contrast between Queenstown and Milford is so distinct, it’s hard to believe you are still in the same country!

Milford. Credit: Azamara

Milford is a must do. Get there.

 

Tip 10: Do something new!

Queenstown is an adventure town. Do something random. Do Something new!

Even if you’re not an adrenaline junkie, adventure junkie, walker, biker or mountain climber there are so many unique and interesting things to do in this tourist town. There is no excuse to not try something new! Pick a number from 1-10 and do the corresponding activity listed below!! I dare ya!

  1. Queenstown Escape Room
  2. Go Mountain Carting at Cardrona
  3. Zip Trek Eco Tour
  4. Hydro Attack
  5. Walk to Lake Alta
  6. Rafting
  7. Jet Boat
  8. The Nevis Bungy
  9. Canyon Swing
  10. Skydive  

 

All the best with your Queenstown Adventure!!!

I hope you have found out something useful. Queenstown is a special place. We love sharing it with you.

Written by: Hamish Fleming

Local Adventurer, Queenstown lover and

Operations Manager at Around The Basin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Around The Basin are proud to sponsor a bee hive that sits alongside the Queenstown Trail (on Whitechapel Road, Arrow Junction). Bees have been struggling in recent years and we understand the important role they play in our ecosystem. We think that BeeThe Change are doing some pretty awesome work.

“It is globally recognised that an insect and bee mass extinction could well occur in our lifetime. This would have a catastrophic impact on global food supply.
Through facilitating Corporate Social Responsibility, Bee the Change provides environmental education and pollination initiatives to encourage healthy bee populations.
Bee the Change is leveraging New Zealand’s unique geographic advantage and stringent bio-security laws. Once strong and healthy colonies are established, ‘nucleus hives’ can be shipped to crisis areas around the world to help repopulate colonies.
Together we can create a safe haven for the bee population.” Neal McAloon, Bee The Change NZ.

We are proud to be contributing to this great project and look forward to learning more about our hive and watching its growth.

What a great way to check out our fantastic trail before your ride! Jump on google and cruse the trail in “street view”.

Maybe start exploring from the Southern Discoveries swing bridge? Or begin your reconnaissance from the Edgar Bridge. The options are endless and this is the perfect way to understand the nature of the Queenstown Trail that we are lucky enough to operate on.

A couple of our guides (blue shirts) were even snapped at the Bungy Bridge!

The colours are ablaze in our region form March through to May.

Fun fact: 95% of all New Zealand’s natives trees are “ever green”, but thanks to the gold mining history of Central Otago and the number of early settlers who introduced deciduous trees for nostalgic reasons, we experience what can only be described as an an epic Autumn display.


Best seen by bike

Queenstown itself puts on a fair display, but it is Arrowtown that can’t be missed. Luckily for you, this is where most of our tours begin. We shuttle you form Queenstown out  to Wilcox Green (pictured below). Wilcox Green is a favourite location for Autumn pictures, but this is just the beginning!


Arrowtown in Autumn

From Wilcox Green

Make your way into Arrowtown proper and check out the main street, with it’s beautifully preserved gold mining history, complemented by the fiery autumn foliage.

 


Colours along the trail

Ride your way from Arrowtown to the Gibbston Wine Region and see even more of the Autumn beauty! Or take any of the trails that wind through the region exploring and discovering a new view around every corner.


Autumn Festival | Arrowtown

From the 23 – 28th of April, during the peak of autumn beauty, Arrowtown hosts an autumn festival.

Activities include a “Pie, Pint and Pinot” day, parade and market day, a quiz, art expedition and much more!

To find out more, simply visit https://arrowtownautumnfestival.co.nz/ 

Book a Ride 

Check out Around The Basins “Most Popular Rides“.

Many different ride options are available, whether you value time at wineries, of just want a biking adventure, there is something for everyone.

Family friendly riding options are plenty!

A typical view of Queenstown in Winter… snow on the Mountains, but not in the town or on the cycle trails.

I know summer is an epic time of the year, the weather is warm and biking makes sense to me.

But in the winter… Surely there is snow coating the streets and people are skiing and ice skating to work, right? Not in Queenstown!

Here you can ride the cycle trails all winter long, May through to September!

Sure, Queenstown is a ski town in the winter, but we are lucky enough to have a very positive relationship to the snowy months and that’s because we seldom get snow falling in the town, and when it does, it’s a beautiful novelty. No shovelling snow out of driveways for us! Most of the time, if it does snow down to the lake, the whole town shuts down, as driving the steep mountainous streets becoming a rather adventurous endeavour. People build snowmen, ski jumps in the back yard and generally don’t go to work or school. This happens roughly 5 days each winter… on these days you usually can’t even get up to the ski fields.

“it gets cold, but not Arctic in Queenstown”

With an average high of 9 degrees celsius in June (middle of winter), it gets cold, but not Arctic in Queenstown and this means biking is still seen as a very attractive option. Because the trails are a gravel surface cold weather and even freezing conditions mean that the trail actually bonds together better than it does in the dusty dry of summer. Imagine loose rocks with tar bonding them, in comparison to loose rocks with dust between them… the cold temperatures act like tar, holding the pebbles of the trail in situ.

Did I mention the views?

The pristine crisp and still weather that is typical of a Queenstown winter makes you feel alive and is a pleasure to explore by bike. You have to see it and feel it to really know what I mean… it’s invigorating and inspiring.

A low snow day, still perfect on the trail.

The great thing about Winter in Queenstown is that it is generally cold and dry. This means that if you chuck on a puffer jacket and some gloves, you feel great. We don’t have many days where it is wet and cold… the type of weather that gets into your bones.

A great valley based activity

There are days in winter when the weather does come in and wind and cloud attack the mountains. You’ll be surprised to find that more often than not, the valley is still quite a comfortable place to be. Shuttle out to Arrowtown, drink a hot coffee at Provisions Cafe and then ride to the wineries based in the Gibbston Valley. Dance venue to venue, with wine tastings and biking to keep you warm and happy. And did I mention the beer tastings and cheese platters? Or the wood-fire pizza available at the Gibbston Tavern?

Riders outside of Provisions Cafe, caffeinated and ready to hit the trail.

The Top 3 Winter Rides

1) Bike The Wineries: Catch our shuttle to Arrowtown and ride through stunning countryside, downstream, to the Gibbston Valley, the home of 7 wineries, a tavern, micro-brewery and a “cheesery”.

2) Arrowtown to Queenstown: 35km of stunning purpose built trail. Shuttle to Arrowtown and ride your way back to Queenstown. 

3) Hire a bike and ride around the Frankton Arm: Set off on the trail that leaves directly from Queenstown and cruise out to The Boat Shed Cafe. Enjoy a hot coffee with a stunning backdrop. Ride as far as you please and marvel at the glassy lake and snow capped mountains.

One of the 5 or so days per winter that we get snow on the Queenstown Trail… you can’t stop the keen ones…

Wow, where has this year gone!? Winter is at an end and we are already well into spring!

So, what have we been up to and what’s new?

The trail

It’s brilliant to see how much our Queenstown Trail is growing and improving. We are excited to see a new section of trail that now connects Tuckers Beach to the Old Shotover Bridge. This section provides fresh views and adds options, both as a ride starting point, and as a way to extend a ride.

We have also seen significant improvements in trail connectivity, the highlight here being the new underpass near the Karawau River road bridge. This is opening soon, and will allow rides to sneak under the road to and from the Wakatipu Lake edge without crossing a busy road.

The trail is also now marked even more clearly with colour coding. We have adapted our map to show these colours. Riders can explore the trail network with ease, confident they are on the right track.

Products

New trail development means exciting options for new products! We are stoked to announce a new half day product this spring called the “Beach to Bay” This utilises the Tuckers Beach trail and follows the Shotover River, then connects to the Kawarau River and onwards to Lake Wakatipu. A truely scenic section of riding, great for all abilities. There are cafe options, such as the famous Boat Shed located along this lovely section of trail.

The team

This winter our team have been busy pursuing all the good things that Queenstown has to offer. Biking, skiing, paragliding, trail running, kayaking and the rest… we are all stoked to live in this town and play in this inspiring environment.

Enjoy some shots of the crew in action…

Summer

Let’s hope the weather is half as good as it was last year! We look forward to having you out riding with us! Please get in touch if you have any queries, otherwise browse our site, have a read, watch some videos and get booking! Tours do full up regularly during the summer season, so don’t wait until it’s too late.

Happy holiday planning.

Hamish and the team

Around The Basin

 

 

Trail Talk – Winter 2018.

Well well well, another summer season has drawn to a close in Queenstown and here at Around The Basin Bike Tours we have moved onto our winter schedule.

Today has dawned with fresh snow coating the hills around town and it is certainly starting to look and feel like winter. Let’s hope for a great ski season, with a good bit of biking also thrown in the mix!

The exciting news this winter is that we will be running our Bike The Wineries Half Day Tour right through the winter season! This will allow people on a tighter time budget to still experience the simple pleasure of riding through the wineries. A truely magic experience on a calm, crisp, clear winters day. This tour goes out at mid day, really maximising the warmest weather window during winter.

Biking through the wineries, near Cargo Brewery

Cheers! Well deserved beer and pizza at the Gibbston Tavern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We always encourage people to book the Full Day Wineries Tour if possible, as the added hours allow you to see Arrowtown and ride an extra 15 km along the stunning Arrow River Bridges Trail, giving a great balance between riding, exploring and wineries. But if riding less and drinking more sounds like you, then the Half Day Tour is perfect!

As usual, we will also be offering our Bike The Bridges Half Day Tour, Bike Hire and a Shuttle Service right through the cooler months. So if you want to get on a bike in Queenstown this winter, simply give us a bell.

Happy riding!

Hamish and the Team

Around The Basin Bike Tours

Queenstown New Zealand

 

Check out the Top 3 recommended rides for for those wanting to explore Queenstown by mountain bike.

1. Book A Tour

Tours include shuttle transport and allow you to see the real highlight of Queenstown by bike. Often taking in Arrowtown, a small historic gold mining town, as well as the Gibbston Wine Valley, a bike tour is your all inclusive package and the easy way to do it all in style.

Tours can be split based on your focus for the day and are grouped into Bike the Wineries Tours and Supported Tours.

Wineries tours explore the Gibbston Wine Valley by bike, whereas the supported

tours are more ride focused, but often finish at a winery for an included tasting. The great thing about the supported tours is that you will have a driver and van dedicated to your group that will meet you along the trail, providing navigation tips, helping transport any excess gear, as well as providing some local knowledge. The van can also transport you through sections, allowing you to see the highlights of the trail.

Check out these two different tour types below

Bike The Wineries – Half Day Tour

Bike The Wineries – Full Day Tour

Supported Tour – Half Day

Supported Tour – Full Day

⚡️ELECTRIC BIKE UPGRADES AVAILABLE ON ALL TOURS!


2. Hire a bike in combination with shuttle transport

Great for the “do it yourself” rider. Jump in the shuttle and be dropped into Arrowtown in the morning, explore the history of Arrowtown, before riding the 35km of trail back to Queenstown. This trip is best suited to those who are comfortable navigating their way along the trail independently and have a good level of mountain bike fitness.

If you are a strong rider and make good time there is also the option to work in a winery stop and see the Kawarau Bungy – a 10km addition of riding to your day. The great thing about taking the shuttle in the morning and then riding back to Queenstown is that you have the freedom to manage your day at your own pace, with the only constraint being getting back to Queenstown before the shop closes at the end of the day.

A trip with the freedom to make of it what you wish!

Ride Packages


3. Hire a bike

Ride from the centre of town along the edge of the lake. Simple to navigate, and the easiest mountain biking trail in Queenstown, this tack circumnavigates the Queenstown lake shore around the Frankton Arm and is great for riders of all abilities. Simply ride the trail until you feel you are half done and then spin around and ride back. Simply book a bike to be collected from our shop and you’re good to go! Map and helmet is included in your hire package. And remember, if you get super excited and want to ride all the way to a winery or to Arrowtown, just add a shuttle pick up to your booking.

Hire A Bike Here!

For all general enquiries or for more information please visit https://www.aroundthebasin.co.nz