Nadia Lim’s two-day autumn itinerary along the scenic Queenstown Trail


When friends and family come for a weekend visit, it’s fun to head out on the network of bicycle trails that criss-cross the area — and pack a delicious picnic for a lunch-stop with a view. 

Grab a set of wheels (two not four), pack the bicycle basket with delicious treats, then meander along the flat, wide cycleways of the scenic Queenstown Trail.

I love living in Central Otago — there’s no shortage of outdoor activities on our doorstep, and you don’t have to be an adrenaline-junkie to enjoy them. One of my favourite things to do in my spare time is to pack a picnic and go for a bike ride with a few friends to search out a sheltered spot with a spectacular view to spend an afternoon with some good, simple food. We’re so lucky to be in one of the most spectacular natural environments in the world. A day spent biking or walking the Queenstown Trail, which threads throughout the Wakatipu Basin, is a great way to explore the region, followed by a day of adventures that kids and adults can enjoy.

The 130km network of trails could keep us on the pedals for days, and it’s fun to plan where to stop for a break. Maybe under a riverside willow near a swimming hole? Or on a hilltop with views too jaw-dropping to cycle past? The next question is: what to eat? Although my garden and kitchen are great sources of food, it’s fun to visit the many local cafés and specialty food stores. We’re spoilt for choice in Arrowtown. Start with brekkie at The Chop Shop or The Dishery. Then swing by Provisions — their sweet baked treats are a favourite. Coffee at Good Day is a local secret so make time for a pit-stop.

For day two, the choice is: which exciting kid-focussed adventures would adults love the most, too? Here are my suggestions for a two-day itinerary. See more detail at queenstownNZ.nz

DAY ONE

Hire bikes in Arrowtown, pick up supplies from the village’s excellent food stores (Provisions has the best homemade sourdough and sticky caramel buns) and let the kids run around the old stone dwellings of the gold-mining days and the historic Chinese Settlement. We head off on the easy-gradient 13.7km Arrow River Bridges Trail towards Gibbston crossing five bridges and passing many picturesque spots.

One of the loveliest is the tranquil Wilcox Green, right beside the Swain Family Bridge. Midway across the awe-inspiring Southern Discoveries Suspension Bridge is a hard-to-beat photo opportunity. If there’s a wine-lover in our party, we like to stop in at Gibbston Valley winery and enjoy lunch there (they do incredible grazing platters) before heading home in a leisurely way.

If our guests are staying in Queenstown, I usually recommend they head out on foot or by bike on the Frankton Track through the Queenstown Gardens. If there’s time, a game of frisbee golf in the gardens is a laugh for young and old. Further along the glorious lake edge, stop for lunch at Frankton Marina or pop into a café after a bracing swim at one of the many beaches along the way. Thirsty bikers or walkers can sample a craft beer at Altitude Brewing or stop for lunch The Boat Shed Café & Bistro, set in a building that dates back to 1869.

All-comers will be spellbound by the mesmerising view of the mighty Lake Wakatipu and the incredible Remarkables mountain range towering behind it. Next up is the Kelvin Heights Sculpture Trail — a 4km loop featuring some of New Zealand’s best-known artists; play ‘spot the sculpture’ with the kids as many works are hidden in the trees.

After an excellent workout by bike, a therapeutic spa treatment is in order for parents who can leave children in the capable hands of a trusted babysitting service before gathering everyone for dinner. It would be a shame not to test-drive the town’s world-class dining options.

DAY TWO

For a quieter second day, take the historic steamer, the TSS Earnslaw, to Walter Peak Farm. Or, if everyone is still keen on fast-paced adventure, another great option can include luging or ziplining among the treetops topped off with dinner at an Arrowtown eatery.


This is an extract from the autumn edition of Nadia: A Seasonal Journal. This quarterly publication offers on how to grow vegetables and fruit and how to cook for family and friends with homegrown and locally sourced produce.

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