Seeing a Queenstown Autumn by Bike
Seeing Autumn in Queenstown by Bike
Around this time of year, Queenstown puts on a show that sends photographers and artists into a flap. It’s autumn and throughout the district leaves are changing colour and turning the hillsides an implausible array of orange, brown, yellow and gold. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and it doesn’t last for long.
One of the easiest places to spot nature’s incredible show is around Arrowtown. The deciduous trees that flank the hills put on a spectacular final flourish of colour before dropping their leaves for the chilly winter ahead.
One option for catching a glimpse of the show is to take a drive from Queenstown to Arrowtown, but an ever better way to take it all in is to slow things down. With a complete network of cycle trails throughout Queenstown and its surrounds, our best advice is to switch to pedal power.
The Queenstown Trail is a spectacular network of trails taking in the scenic highlights of the district. Covering 120 kilometres of trails, there is something for every ability and every timeframe. Choose a trail that best suits your needs and take off to explore lakes, rivers, heritage sites, ride over suspension bridges and through amazing scenery.
THE ARROWTOWN RIDE
If you’re hoping to catch Arrowtown’s autumn colour, then take the Arrow River Bridges Ride. Called the bridges ride because it takes in the five bridges that cross the Arrow River, the 16 km ride should take 2 to 3 hours. Highlights include an 80m suspension bridge and the historic Kawarau Bridge.
Begin the ride at the Arrow River car park, which coincidently is also one of the best places to see the colours on show. Follow the gentle track along the river before coming out at the Kawarau River. From here, you can choose to cycle on to find a winery, or return to Arrowtown. Good local food and wine can be found at nearby wineries Chard Farm or Gibbston Valley Winery.
NGA HAERENGA: THE NEW ZEALAND CYCLE TRAIL
Queenstown’s network of cycle trails is part of the nationwide Nga Haerenga. Meaning “the journeys", Nga Haerenga is 2,500 km of trails covering every region of New Zealand. Tracks take in every possible landscape; some are newly created tracks and some are reclaimed tracks or railways, like the iconic Otago Rail Trail. Following the route of the former Otago Central Railway, the Otago Rail Trail attracts thousands of cyclists and walkers each year.
Whether you want to spend a whole day on the bike or get out for a quick ride, there are plenty of options on the Queenstown Trail. Whatever you do, make sure you have your camera.
WHEN TO CATCH THE COLOURS OF AUTUMN
While it’s difficult to predict exactly when the trees will turn, it is roughly around the first week of April for 2 to 3 weeks. Many photographers hunt for the striking autumn colours set against blue lakes or rivers. Locations like Lake Wanaka and McKenzie Country are an excellent place to catch such a sight. But it is Arrowtown that draws the biggest crowds for what is one of nature's most beautiful shows. The dense foliage that packs the Arrowtown hills provides the best range and depth of colours. If you’re a keen photographer, make sure you get up early to beat the crowds.