Queenstown - My Top 6 Mountain Bike Rides
This post was originally published on 11th April 2017 and updated on 8th May 2018.
So you’ve decided to see what Queenstown is like without snow - crazy right? As a snow addict, I can confidently say that you won’t be disappointed coming to QT in the summer. Apart from the magic postcard scenery, you’ll appreciate exploring wineries in your t-shirt and shorts, going on amazing hikes or sitting around the lake sipping your favourite beverages while the sun is high in the sky at 9:00pm.
And if you have the slightest interest in mountain biking, you’re going to be blown away.
Jen and I recently moved to Queenstown in mid-summer and I’ve been like a kid in a candy store, with every spare moment spent exploring the amazing, awesomely maintained MTB trails (thanks to Queenstown Mountain Bike Club - QMTBC).
If you’re here for a week, make sure you check out my top 6 mountain bike trails (and on the other days you might just have enough energy left for a hike or two or to visit some wineries!):
1. Coronet Peak Cross Country (XC) Course
Starting off at the Coronet Peak Ski Resort day lodge, ride up past the magic carpet, keeping it on your right (the bottom of the Big Easy), towards Arrowtown.
Once you get to the end of the magic carpet, you’ll see a single track just across the gravel access road (it’s pretty hard to miss). Jump on that and start climbing. At my current fitness level (which I have to admit is still quite dismal), it takes about 45 mins to climb to the top of M1, with a fair bit of pushing.
The trail is clearly marked - just don’t turn off towards Arrowtown about one-third of the way up (the turn off is to the right so make sure you stay left or you'll end up on Corotown - see below). The view all the way up is breathtaking and there are ample photo opportunities which are a welcome rest stop! At the top of M1, you’ll be presented with the beginning of the downhill (DH) course (which I’ve yet to do) off to the west.
After a few minutes rest and taking in more views, it’s time to open up the suspension and let the fun begin. The descent is a great combination of flowing berms, tight switch-backs and little jumps and drops. Total time down without stopping takes a little over 10 mins and you’re pretty tired and pumped by the time you get back to the day lodge. Check out the video I recently put together on my 3rd attempt at descending.
2. Rude Rock
This DH, one-way blast is world class. And I’m not just saying that - Red Bull often shoot films here with the pros. Best ridden on a DH bike, as it’s fast, technical and has plenty of drops, jumps and blind crests. It starts just past Greengates chair and ends up back on the Coronet Peak road, just uphill from Skippers road.
Shuttling is the way to go as riding back up the road is no fun and impossible on a DH bike. If you've got a few friends, share the trips otherwise look in town for some companies who’ll happily shuttle you up for a small fee.
Check out our top-to-bottom run below - I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
3. 7 Mile Mountain Bike Park
A dedicated MTB park on DOC (department of conservation) land, created and maintained by QMTBC. Park at Wilson Bay, which coincidently is approx. 7 miles from QT on the road to Glenorchy. Excellent tracks, with a network of interlaced trails. Technical, fun and climbs that won’t cause the quads to burst. Good place to smash a quick 1-2 hour ride. It's also quite sheltered if it's too windy to head out to the more exposed rides.
4. Beeched As (up Skyline Access Road)
Do you want a killer climb? Look no further that riding up the Skyline Access Road, the start of which is off Lomond Crescent. Of course, you can take the easy way out and hook your bike on the gondola but where’s the fun in that? Once you get to the top of the gondy and DH park, continue on until you see the Beeched As single-track.
This is some of the tightest, most technical riding I’ve done. Highly recommended to ride with a mate because you want someone around if you happen to fall off the side of the trail… Narrow gaps in trees, slimy roots and mud make for a very rewarding and satisfying ride (satisfied you’ve survived!). Take the amazing views in at the top, where a massive picnic table has been choppered in. And enjoy the backdrop of Ben Lomond.
There are a few ways to descend but on my particular day, we chose the Fernhill loop. Steep, fast and loose - so hang on! Also get’s quite dark under the trees, so don’t wear sunnies as you won’t see anything.
5. Skyline MTB Park
Lift accessed. Do a 4-hour session - it will be enough! Get a good DH bike and go mental. So many tracks, all graded depending on skill level, there’s sure be something for everyone. And watch the pros - they’re amazing and you’ll be awe-struck.
Downhill mountain biking is really next-level for an adrenalin rush and the gondola at Skyline makes it so easy to bust out a few laps at any time of the day. I bought a season pass for 2017/18 and it's been a great investment. Check out some footage of Vertigo below.
Coronet Peak to Arrowtown. Get a (good!) friend to drop you off at the Coronet Peak Ski Resort day lodge and then meet them back at Arrowtown for a beer. Take the XC trail as above then turn off about a third of the way up. I rode with a friend who had done the trail a few times before and I'm seriously glad I did. The initial drop is super steep and super loose, and having an experienced rider showing me the way did a lot to boost my confidence. Otherwise I think I'd be slightly petrified as this is some of the most challening riding I've ever done. If you stop, you'll fall and won't stop sliding for a very long way! Once you make it past the initial section, you're welcomed with an awesome flowing single track along the valley all the way to Arrowtown. Just be prepared to get a little muddy and wet as there are more than 10 creek crossings!
Pack, Track & Sack into Skippers Canyon - an awesome single-track enduro 5 km trail, with narrow, technical sections. Turn off the Rude Rock DH track about two-thirds of the way down. The bottom meets Skippers Rd. The climb up and out of Skippers Rd is brutal so we took two cars and parked one at the bottom and then drove the other car up to the Coronet Peak day lodge. We rode to the top of Coronet Peak to do an epic downhill run of Coronet Peak XC > Rude Rock DH > Pack, Track and Sack. Pretty much a 30 min downhill run - awesome!
Cardrona Bike Park - lift accessed DH fun at Cardrona Alpine Resort. I had an awesome 2017/2018 season there so please check out my full report here!
Have you been mountain bike riding in Queenstown? Any trail favourites you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!
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