NZ’s premier alpine resort has a mind-boggling range of things to do, and Queenstown is MTB heaven; from cruisy, flat trails to heli-biking, multi-day cross-country and extreme downhill rides. Queenstown is touted as one of New Zealand’s top mountain biking destinations where two wheeled recreation options are seemingly endless. Choose from over 120kms of trails, ranging from leisurely rides through Gibbston Valley vineyards and Lake Hayes Estate to fast paced downhill action from the Skyline Gondola or Cardrona. Spend a day biking out to Arrowtown for lunch, and bike back in time for a beer and the sunset.
Skipping over glistening rocks and shiny roots, passing old gold mining huts and diving through a canopy of gorgeous green natives, the skinny trail twists over a burbling creek and onwards around berms that are works of art. Gold Digger is a technical enough ride that some days will leave a rider swearing and sweating, analysing their cornering technique, and always, always grinning. Arguably more fun in the wet than the dry, it’s a go-to for local riders looking to improve their skills, and get out in the bush for 30 minutes of slightly awkward rocky rooty fun.
Thanks to Ronnie Baker for this write up on Gold Digger. Ronnie is a Queenstown local who maintains the trail, nice one!
This ride circumnavigates Ben Lomond, the peak that towers over Queenstown’s western skyline
The trail starts at the top of the small local community of Arthurs Point and makes it way from here along the foot of Ben Lomond. There can be a real mixture of track conditions so be prepared for a variable surface. The first section of the trail is single track which can be technical at times, a little bike portage may be necessary. It eventually rolls down to the ruins of Seffertown, an old gold mining village from a bygone era. From here it turns to 4WD track that rolls through to the Moke Lake camp ground and ultimately out on to the Queenstown-Glenorchy Rd.
The ride starts from the base building at Coronet Peak ski area. It’s a decent grind to the top of the Express chair, the ascent is mostly rideable. This trail strikes a good balance between technical/challenging versus achievable for all riding abilities.
Once at the top it’s back the same way you came. Descending, it feels like a totally different track. Once back at the base building you have the option of linking in other trails to your ride such as ‘Rude Rock’, especially if you were prepared enough to leave a car at the bottom of this trail.
If you're looking for an easy and scenic family ride you’ll be hard pressed to beat the Frankton Walkway running alongside Lake Wakatipu from the Queenstown Gardens to the one way bridge over the Kawarau River in Frankton (9km)
There is also a fun albeit non-technical track running from the other side of the bridge to Jacks Point (7km). If you want a bit more of a challenge there’s a great mix of tracks at Jacks Point, including some technical single track. Grab yourself a map and check out the network for yourself, the scenery is superb and it’s a great way to spend an hour or two when in the region.
Families looking for a great ride can’t go past the Gibbston River Trail
Following the Kawarau River the trail can be ridden in two directions, either starting at Waitiri Creek Winery or The Wine Kitchen, located next to the historic Kawarau Bridge. The first part of the trail, if ridden from Waitiri Creek, is great for beginners and an optional 2.4km loop which can be accessed here. The second half of the ride is a little more difficult for beginners but very achievable for intermediate riders, there are plenty of scenic picnic spots along the way.
Remarkables / Coal Pit Saddle
This is a big ride/carry that takes you into the alpine environment above Queenstown.
It has big views, a great descent, and is another of the “must do” rides that pepper this region. It starts in the winter playground of the Remarkables Ski Area with a steep climb up the Sugar Bowl Quad to the east of the field. It turns into a bike portage that heads directly over the ridge from the chair lift. It follows the road off Ben Cruachan Peak, with some up and down, that eventually hits Coal Pit Saddle almost 900 vertical meters below. There is a further 600m to the bottom of Coal Pit Saddle Rd and on into the Gibbston Valley.