With summer now over, and autumn in full swing it’s time to make the most of the beautiful outdoors while the sun still shines.
Autumn is a stunning time to be out and about; it’s quieter, the colours of the transitioning leaves on the trees are just out of this world and bring you so much closer to nature, the lower aspect of the sun brings a warm welcome when the morning clouds lift; plus April is when Arrowtown Autumn Festival happens! What better way to discover the beautiful, changing landscapes than by bike or on foot. Visiting the area? Or simply wanting a relaxing autumn experience? Here are our top 5 Autumn Trail Adventures…
Lake Hayes Trail
If you haven’t been for a jaunt around the Lake Hayes trail, this is a must! On a still, blue sky day, the vivid colours from the surrounding hills and mountains are wonderfully reflected in the lake or even on a cloudy day it makes for an incredibly moody atmosphere. An easy 8km, it is one of the most scenic short loops in the trail network, with a couple of food and drink options nearby. Near the Lake Hayes Pavilion you’ll be able to look up and see the immaculate Stoneridge Estate & Nockie’s Palette nestled in the hillside. Offering wine tastings, food and a Paint & Wine activity, it’s the ideal place to sit back and relax and take in the views. Alternatively, the delectable Amisfield Restaurant and Cellar Door sitting a stone’s throw from the lake offers up their signature Trust the Chef degustation menu – a 3-7 course sophisticated lunch or dinner experience, matched with their famous wines.
Arrow River Bridges Trail
Fancy yourself a budding nature photographer? After a pie, pint or Pinot? Arrowtown in autumn is the place to be… it comes alive! The incredible changing colours of the trees that line the Arrow River draw in photographers, nature lovers and artists and they are a beautiful sight to behold. Whatever you do this autumn in Queenstown, make sure a relaxing stroll or ride along the Arrow River Bridges trail is on your list. If you’re here on ANZAC weekend, the annual Autumn Festival is a great event for all the family, with slip n slides, music, food, street entertainers, dog shows, not to mention the Autumn Long Lunch, all taking place in the heart of this incredibly historic town. Stop by Postmasters Arrowtown for a coffee and a cake, or if you're looking to hire a bike head down to Better by Bike over at the historic Dudley's Cottage.
If you’re in central Queenstown, visiting or out for a leisurely lunch, Queenstown gardens makes for a lovely post-lunch stroll. Officially the start of the Queenstown Trail which leads on to the Frankton Track, the gardens are beautifully kept. You can make it a nice loop around the gardens or you can meander your way through the different areas and see where you end up! If you’re on two wheels, we’d recommend venturing on to the Frankton Track that skirts the edge of the lake all the way to Frankton marina. If you’re after a pick-me-up try the Boat Shed for their scrumptious menu and coffee, or if you’re after a pint, head to Altitude Brewing for a refreshing libation. Both places have bike racks for parking up too.
Kelvin Peninsula Trail
Starting in Frankton just before you cross the Kawarau Falls bridge, this lovely, mellow trail winds along the edge of the lake, past private jetties, millionaire mansions, secret coves and ends at the golf club at the start of the peninsula. If you’re staying in the area, we’d recommend stopping at the Hilton Kawarau Village; their Pinot Pit is the perfect spot to drink wine, sit by the fire and admire the stunning views across the lake on a crisp autumn day. If you’re staying at the Hilton, you can enjoy the trail on a rental e-bike, courtesy of Chargeabout Queenstown located next door. If the family is in tow, we’d recommend heading onto the Kelvin Heights Sculpture Trail, locally known as the Golf Course Trail, a 4km easy trail that follows the woodland and a series of sculptures dotted in various locations. Fancy yourself a round of golf? Queenstown Golf Club have you sorted! Once you’re all golfed out, head back the way you came along the sun-drenched trail back to Frankton.
Gibbston River Wine Trail
No trip to Queenstown would be complete without a tasting or two in the Valley of the Vines. The best way to experience the Gibbston River Wine Trail is by doing it at your leisure, and on an ebike. Use one of the many awesome bike taxi companies in Queenstown listed here to get you out to the start of the trail and the start of your adventure. The trail weaves in and around the wineries and runs the length of Gibbston, so you’ll be spoiled for choice on the number of delicious wineries there are along the way. If you’re staying over, we’d highly recommend the beautiful Kinross Cellar Door & Cottages. Their luxurious accommodation, complete with hot tub and onsite restaurant is the perfect place to stay among the vines. They offer tastings as well as live acoustic music in their lovely garden on Sundays. If you’re after a more pub style affair, pedal on to the Gibbston Tavern where you’ll find some delicious beers and wines on tap, as well as some good pub grub and gorgeous garden to relax in. There’s definitely enough to explore in Gibbston to make it into a weekend, so stay a while, and enjoy a couple of days of biking around the wineries feeling in seventh heaven. The trail is very mellow and with the help of an ebike it’s a breezy cruise along the Gibbston Valley.
The Queenstown Trails Trust has a vision for a happier, healthier and cleaner Queenstown, all because more people have the opportunity to walk and cycle. We want people of all ages and abilities to utilise the network of trails safely, easily and enjoyably around the Wakatipu. If everyone who used the trails regularly donated as little as $30 per year we’d be safeguarding the future of the trails. Help us achieve our vision and support us by becoming a Friend of the Trust.