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Trail History

The Queenstown Trail is the realisation of a ten year vision, combined with the tenacity, passion and patience of many individuals and organisations.

Back in 2002 after the then Wakatipu Trails Trust (now the Queenstown Trails Trust) was established following a community meeting organized by QLDC CEO, Duncan Field and DOC Wakatipu Area Manager, Chris Eden to assess the interest level for a network of recreational trails.

The early years were spent developing a vision, key strategies and a working plan and in 2004 the WTT strategy was finalised. To this day that vision and strategy serve as a guide for all trail development and activities.

Our vision: To create a world class trail network for walking and cycling.

It was envisioned the WTT would work in close partnership with Council and DOC.

At that time, the area was rapidly developing and the Trust had the foresight to secure access and easements to key land, before it was fully developed.

Coincidentally, in 2009, an idea emerged from the 2009 Government's Job Summit, to create to build a network of cycle trails that would open up new ways for Kiwis and international visitors to see the country – and also generate economic, social and environmental benefits for communities.

'Nga Haerenga - The New Zealand Cycle Trail' was born.

In mid-2009 the Trust secured substantial Government funding which enabled us to greatly accelerate the development and construction of over 120km of world-class cycling and walking trails. Today, the Queenstown Trail is a flagship trail, forming part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail.

We owe a huge vote of thanks to so many: the early pioneers who had the vision in 2002; the local businesses and individuals who have contributed their time, money and ideas over the years; generous landowners who have agreed to share their beautiful land with the rest of the world; local and central government and the Department of Conservation, who have all played a major part in the planning, development and safety of these magnificent trails.

Trail History:

  • 2002: Wakatipu Trails Trust established
  • 2003: Full bridle access through Slopehill Road
    Bridle Access through Triangle Link from Domain Road to Lower Shotover Road
  • 2004: Wakatipu Trails Trust Strategy finalised, click here to view the strategy and potential public access map
  • 2005: Lower Shotover Bridge restoration complete*
    Bridle Trail cleared at river end of Domain Road
    Bridle access improved from Domain Road to Lower Shotover Bridge
  • 2007: Opening of Lake Hayes Trail**
  • 2009: Opening of Millbrook Trail***
    All Year round bridle access to Council Controlled Forestry
    Opening of Jardine Park to Jack's Point Trail
  • 2010: Upgrade of the Kelvin Peninsula Trail
    Bridle access from Fitzpatrick Road to DoC recreational reserve
    New Zealand Cycleway Grant secured
    Opening of the Gibbston River Trail***                                                                                                                                                                                                       The Wakatipu Trails Trust changed its name to the Queenstown Trails Trust                          
  • 2012: Opening of Queenstown Trail                                                                                                                                                                                                           QTT purchased the Motatapu - NZ's iconic off-road sporting event  
  • 2013 : Frankton Track Upgrade (QTT JV funding to support QLDC upgrade)                                                                                                                                         The first (of ten proposed) Sculptures is placed on the Kelvin Peninsula Loop Trail, funded by an anonymous benefactor 
  • 2014 : Gibbston River Trail Upgrade completed and official opening held                                                                                                                                           Upgrade of the Kelvin Peninsula Loop                                                                                                                                                                                                       QTT named as 'official charity' of the inaugural Air NZ International Queenstown Marathon                                                                                                             Second and third Sculptures are placed on the Kelvin Peninsula Loop - fast becoming known as the 'Sculpture Trail' 
  • 2015 : Storm damage occurs on Twin Rivers Trail - Government funding secured to repair Old McDonalds Hill and a part of the Upper Kawarau Trail
  • 2015 : Queenstown Trails For The Future 2015-2025 strategy released click here to view or download the strategy


*As part of its Centenary Project the Queenstown Rotary Club, through its Bridge Restoration Trust, funded and restored the Historic Lower Shotover Bridge, raising $760,000.

**Grateful thanks to Karen and Jim Boult for funding the part of the trail that traverses Threpwood land.

***Millbrook Trail – thanks to Millbrook for the easement and link from Malaghan’s Road through the resort.

**** Spearheaded by Susan Stevens, the Gibbston Community Association raised $1.4m and obtained 10 landowner easements to develop the 8.5kms trail which is one of the most popular trails in the basin.

Thanks to all our key partnerships, particularly the Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Department of Conservation, both authorities have provided land to build trails, and also have primary responsibility for maintaining those trails.

Other partnerships that have enabled this extensive trail network are: NZ Transport Agency, Historic Places Trust, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Private and Public Landowners, Community Trust of Southland, Central Lakes Trust and other Trusts, Bequests and financial sponsors and patrons.