The Queenstown Trail – Arrowtown to Queenstown

Queenstown is one of those dream destinations that offers holiday makers endless opportunities to have fun, find adventures and make memories.

The last time we visited, we didn’t even leave Queenstown itself, instead we rode the Fernhill loop and smashed out laps upon laps at Skyline. This time however, we wanted to explore the wider Wakatipu Basin, and what better way to do that, than on a bike!

Looking online for riding options around the area, we discovered the Queenstown Trails Trust website and settled on a route that would take us from Arrowtown back to Queenstown via the old Shotover Bridge, perfect! The route would cover sections of the Arrow River Bridges Trail, the Twin Rivers Trail and the Frankton Track. So we wandered into local bike shuttle and rental operator, Around the Basin and booked a shuttle and rented eBikes for the following day, they had a special winter deal on at the time.


Historic Arrowtown and the Arrow River, Kawarau and Shotover Rivers, The Old Shotover Bridge, Queenstown Gardens, Lake Wakatipu


Numerous bakeries, restaurants, a lolly shop in Arrowtown, toilets dotted along the trail, Frankton Beach, Queenstown

Grade 1

Hard-pack trail and a road section, a few small climbs and easy switchbacks


2 ½ hours riding time
38kms in length
530m climbing

Queenstown Trail – Arrowtown to Queenstown on Trailforks.com

The day of the ride we wandered back down to the Around the Basin office and hopped aboard the shuttle van bound for Arrowtown. The trip out to the trail head at Arrowtown took around 20 minutes via Arthurs Point taking you past some stunning scenery around the Edith Cavell Bridge.

Once in Arrowtown our shuttle operator gave us maps and directions for the various routes that each group was taking and then introduced us to our bikes, fitted us up and sent us on our way.

Before you head out on the trail, we highly recommend you head up into Arrowtown itself and take a look around, it’s such a neat little town with some really interesting history… And a great lolly shop 😉

Fuelled up and stocked up we were ready to head out along the Arrow River Valley, keeping an eye out for the distinctive Queenstown Trail signage to keep us on track.

We rode the trail in early June and it while it was sunny, the river valley was mostly in the shade and very cold. Make sure you wrap up with plenty of layers to fight off the chill from the frost.

It wasn’t long until we cycled out of the shadows of the valley and into the winter sunshine pedalling up towards the impressive Southern Discoveries Bridge offering a stunning view of the snow dusted Remarkables. Every direction you turn around here looks like a postcard from paradise.

A little further up the trail and through a couple of road sections and you will arrive at the Gibbston Valley Intersection, here you can head straight towards the Gibbston Valley and the wineries or turn right towards Kawarau River which is where we were headed.

Arriving at the Kawarau River Valley you encounter a few downhill switch backs taking you down towards the river and then back up the side of the valley again, this is a great spot to stop for some epic photos.

Soon you turn north and head up adjacent to the Shotover River towards the historic old Shotover bridge, this is another great spot for more photos.

Across the bridge and heading back down towards the confluence, the trail feels a bit more urban/industrial and busier, as we pedalled alongside the Kawarau River we watched a V8 jet boat roar past with a load of tourists on board.

Soon you will arrive at Frankton Beach with stunning views out Lake Wakatipu and as you head around towards Queenstown you will pass a number of opportunities to stop for a bite and a drink.

We pressed on, taking in a loop of the scenic Queenstown garden (which reminded me a bit of Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada) before heading back into Queenstown and back to Around the Basin to drop off our eBikes.  

At 38kms this is a longer ride, but an easy one on an eBike. I think you would probably want to add a few hours if you were doing this on a regular pedal bike.

Teresa and I both really liked this ride and we are both keen to revisit and experience the alternative routes out to Gibbston Valley and around Lake Hayes.

If you are in the area and looking for other rides to do, we can highly recommend the Lake Dunstan Trail and the Wanaka Clutha Track.

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