Queenstown is about to step up a gear as a ‘must visit’ international biking destination when a new network of trails launches next month.
The 110+km Queenstown Trail, which will be officially opened on 18 October, is being hailed as one of the country’s flagship trails and is one of 18 projects earmarked as a ‘New Zealand Great Ride’.
The trail will run alongside pristine rivers, lakes and mountain ranges and connect the Wakatipu Basin, Gibbston ‘valley of vines’, Arrowtown, Lake Hayes, Frankton and Queenstown Bay.
Cyclists can choose to complete the full multi-day ride or spend a day or even an hour exploring parts of the trail which is designed to showcase exceptional alpine scenery and provide easy access to iconic Queenstown experiences including bungy jumping, jet boating and wine tasting.
And with more key biking trails reopening around the region over the next few weeks, the summer season is definitely hotting up for bike enthusiasts.
The Southern Hemisphere’s only gondola-accessed downhill mountain biking officially kicks off this weekend (Saturday 29 September) when Skyline recommences its gondola service to the Queenstown Bike Park. The park features more than 30km of purpose-built tracks catering for all levels of riders from families to pro-riders. The lift, which allows bikes to be hooked onto the gondola and carried up to the Park, has been a huge hit so far and last year transported more than 10,000 riders.
Along western shores of Lake Wakatipu, the popular Walter Peak backcountry trail, which includes a 45-minute cruise aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw steamship, will reopen on 23 October. The 55km one day ride is the first stage of the Around the Mountains trail being developed as part of the National Cycleways project and offers cyclists a taste of what's to come with a new premium five day/four night guided ride set to launch within the next year.
And as the Queenstown biking scene grows, so too do the events.
Biking season gears up with the multi-lap relay mountain bike event 8 hours@Jack's on 8 December, followed by the Motatapu 47km High Country Mountain Bike Ride on 9 March. The Queenstown Bike Festival is back for its third year at Easter (22 March-1 April) with an action-packed festival programme of events including the Slopestyle, SuperD Enduro race, and the Tour de Wakatipu.
Destination Queenstown CEO Graham Budd said biking was a great way to explore the region’s beautiful surrounds.
“Anyone with a passion for two wheels owes it to themselves to check out Queenstown’s trails.
“The stunning scenery, combined with a trail network that offers options for every bike enthusiast, makes Queenstown a truly world class destination for mountain biking.
“Local operators have recognised the need to be cycle-friendly and have developed a range of services to make it as easy as possible for visitors. There’s now a bike assembly area at Queenstown Airport, a range of bike tours, products, packages and rental gear, so whether you’re looking for a family-friendly ride, adrenaline pumping downhill action, a backcountry heli-biking adventure or a leisurely peddle around the region’s many vineyards to taste the award-winning wine, it’s all possible.”
The newly released Lonely Planet New Zealand Travel Guide has singled out mountain biking in Queenstown as one of its top 12 new favourite New Zealand recommendations, mentioning that “since the opening of the Queenstown Bike Park, the region is now firmly established as an international focus for the sport.”