Best running trails in Queenstown

Published: 10/01/2022

Queenstown is one of the best places to run in New Zealand. With a great mix of running trails and stunning scenery, the town in New Zealand’s South Island is a runner’s paradise. Known as the adventure capital of the world, there’s plenty of gut-busting trail runs in the Queenstown region. But there’s also a great range of more moderate running tracks that can be tackled from Queenstown’s CBD in an hour or two. 


These runs are great for training or a new challenge and many of them are within walking distance from the centre of Queenstown. 

Here are some of the best running trails in Queenstown, accessible from the CBD. Lace up your running shoes and check out our must-do tracks for a jog with epic Queenstown views.


Queenstown Park Run (5km run)

This 5 km track used by parkrun Queenstown is one of our favourite 5 km runs. Join the parkrun group on Saturday mornings, or run solo and set the Official Tracks record for this quintessential Queenstown run. 

Starting at the Official Tracks Queenstown Marine Parade gate, you’ll loop around the iconic Memorial Gardens twice. The graded pathway is wide and reasonably flat. Starting from the very centre of Queenstown, you’ll get views of the lake, run past the beautifully-kept gardens and pond, finishing back at the centre of the action at Marine Parade. 


Distance: 5 km
Terrain difficulty: Easy


Queenstown Hill 

This great running trail leads to a jaw-dropping lookout above the town. The graded path winds through pine trees to the summit of Te Tapu-nui (mountain of intense sacredness). The Basket of Dreams sculpture is a great spot to take in the views before either heading to the summit – another 10 minutes or so of steep climbing – or back to town for a well-deserved coffee and snack!

The track starts on Belfast Terrace, where there are a few parking spots. Alternatively, start running at Ballart Street and head up to the top of Malaghan Street. Here, there’s a hidden staircase that leads through a patch of trees to Kerry Drive, near the start of Belfast Terrace and the official start of the Queenstown Hill Walking Track. 


Distance: 1.5 km (takes 30 + minutes)
Terrain difficulty: Moderate


Sunshine Bay Track

Starting at the One Mile car park, this undulating walking and running trail hugs the lake’s edge. You’ll run through native bush, followed by native birds like the friendly piwakawaka (fantail), with glimpses of the lake and mountains.

The turnaround point is Sunshine Bay beach. This is a great spot for a dip in the lake, with views across Lake Wakatipu towards the Remarkables mountains and Cecil Peak.  

Car parking is also available at the beach, so you can run this trail in reverse, too. 


Distance: 2 km one way (about 40 minutes return)
Terrain difficulty: Moderate


Ben Lomond and the Tiki Trail

This popular hiking track makes for a very challenging, but very rewarding run. Start at the bottom of the gondola and run up through the trees on the Tiki Trail. Enjoy the happy screams from above and around you as people zipline through the trees, downhill mountain bike past you or soar high above the hill while paragliding. 

The Tiki Trail ends near the gondola building – that was your warm-up! From here, head towards the Ben Lomond saddle, where you’ll see the steep and rocky ascent to the summit to your left. The route is marked with orange marker poles. 

At the top, you’ll enjoy panoramic views across the basin. Keep your eyes peeled for cheeky kea – the world’s only alpine parrots who love to play in this area. 

Note that there will be snow at the summit during winter. Always be prepared for the changeable alpine weather! 

Fun fact: there was once a sundial monument to mark the summit, but it was destroyed in a lightning strike during a 2021 storm. 


Distance: Around 15 km (4–5 hours return)
Terrain difficulty: Challenging


Official Frankton Track 

Looking for a longer distance? This is 18.3 km return track is one of Queenstown’s Official Tracks. Starting from the centre of Queenstown, you’ll run through the iconic Queenstown Memorial Gardens, along the Frankton Arm to the Hilton Hotel where the turnaround gate is positioned. 

This track offers it all: stunning lake and mountain views, including a short run over the historic Kawarau Bridge. This popular walking track is well-maintained. It’s wide and mostly flat, with some shade from the trees reaching over the lake’s edge. Public toilets and a water fountain are located at Frankton Beach. 

The Official Frankton Track is a must-do on any runner’s visit to Queenstown. 


Distance: 18.3 km
Terrain difficulty: Easy



When you’ve finished your run, head back into town where there’s a plethora of great cafes and bars to enjoy a well-deserved drink and a snack. 

Remember: Queenstown is an alpine town and the weather is changeable. Always be prepared and bring water, snacks and warm layers for those longer runs. 

Official Tracks has a wide range of options starting from the CBD (Marine Parade gate), from 2.4 km to 36.6 km. Check out all of the Queenstown Official Tracks and see if you’re in with a shot of getting a gold medal time. 


Author: Bethany Rogers
Bethany Rogers is a Queenstown-based writer and a keen runner. When she’s not writing up a storm, you’ll find her out on the local running and hiking trails, or swimming in Lake Wakatipu.