• Vinay

Top Queenstown picnic spots and how to 'do them the right'

Views out over Moke Lake, a 20 - 30 minute drive (and a small hike) from Queenstown.

Great places for a Picnic whether you have a car, bike or you're on foot. We also highlight some how to ' do them right' which highlights local knowledge of the surrounding area and what's possible so you enjoy your experience that much more. With this information you could easily turn these picnic spot ideas into half or full day activities depending on you.

Map of all the picnic spots we mention below:

Picnic Spots that you can walk, bike or bus to from downtown Queenstown:

Here are two spots that don't require much effort to get to (i.e. they aren't up a hill).

Frankton Beach:


Frankton Beach is one of the few warm spots (that sounds weird) to swim in Lake Wakatipu owing to its small gradient which makes it shallow for a hundred or so meters. The sun, therefore, has a chance to actually heat it up, unlike the rest of the lake. Lake Wakatipu is one of the deepest lakes in the world and so can be very cold to swim in if you don't know the secret spots.

On top of that, it's also 2 minutes from The Fat (see our post here on good places for a quiet drink for the details) and has a sand (not stones) beach to lie on.

How to 'do it right'?

In Frankton, shops is a small pizza place next to an alcohol shop. Buy a 6 pack of Speights and a Bombay Chicken Pizza and soak in the rays at Frankton Beach. Extra points if you have access to a bicycle as it is also on the Frankton Trail (cycle route) so you can bike here too or alternatively catch the bus from Queenstown downtown. You can read more about transport options in Queenstown here whether by bus, bike, ferry or hiring a car.

Earnslaw Park:


Because you're probably already really close that's why. Earnslaw Park is a 5-minute walk from Vudu Cafe, Ferg Burger and the TSS Earnslaw and every other shop and eatery in Queenstown. Queenstown isn't thaaat big. It is also bathed in sun much of the summer day and is a great place to people watch and eat lunch.

How to 'do it right'?

The closest supermarkets are Alpine Supermarket, Fresh Choice and Raeward Fresh within walking distance if you want to pick up picnic food. You're also on the door-step of great coffee, cakes, bakeries, pies, and restaurants so you can also get takeaway.

Two spots that ARE up a hill. Hills mean better views and you can add dessert to the picnic shopping list due to the calories burned ;P

Queenstown Hill:


It's a popular and easy walk and central to Queenstown which has great views of The Remarkables, Cecil Peak, Lake Waktipu towards Kingston and Glenorchy. See our map above for the start of the Queenstown Hill Trailhead and check out the photos below. They sell this hike all by themselves. Also, Queenstown Hill walk is normally a loop but if you want to go down a slightly different way then there is an alternate (but more difficult) route. See the map for the start and end of the alternative route.

Note: It is considerably more difficult so beware if it has been raining as it can be steep and slippery. Also, if you take this route then it will not return you to the original trailhead so you should be willing to walk back to town (via formed road) if you take this route down.

How to 'do it right'?

Hit on of the supermarkets in town, as noted on our map below, to grab your picnic food and hike it up the hill to the 'seat' near the top to enjoy the views.

Note: If you want to go all the way to the summit of Queenstown Hill then behind you (while facing the Lake when at the seat) is the summit turn around and you can walk there quite easily. It can get cold at the top or anywhere in Queenstown can to be honest so take a rain jacket or windbreaker and a warm layer. This will have you dry and warm no matter what. In Queenstown, it pays to have a few layers on hand and a backpack with you at all times.

Tiki Trail (at the top the Gondola):


Within easy access of the town and a harder (read more steep) hike than Queenstown Hill, the Tiki Trail will have you hiking to the same place that the Gondola can take you too. With this in mind, you have the option to hike up and take the gondola down (it's a paid trip down).

Note: You can hike all the way to Ben Lomond if you like from the top of the Tiki Trial but it is a full day hike to summit and return so do some more planning if you are going to tackle this one as well.

How to 'do it right'?

Grab your food from the supermarkets in town we mention below and then hike the Tike Trail. When you get to the top, we suggest a good picnic spot at the top can be accessed if you carry on walking past The Luge to the signposted Paragliding take-off point. From here you can have your picnic and take in alternate views of Lake Wakatipu but also Ben Lomond. If you are extra lucky and on days where the wind is below about 25 kmph then you may see Paragliders taking off from this point.

Picnic Spots that require a car:

The Remarkables:


Because you are original that's why. All those other punks (sorry regular tourist punks) are down in the valley or the lakeside 'picnicing'. Not you though - you're special. Choose this option and you'll literally have the best and highest views possible for a picnic location. You need to drive up but you can stop off several places along the road-side to take in the views or even go right to the top (to the ski field building) and find a picnic spot right next to Lake Alta.

How to 'do it right'?

You in the adventure capital of the world right? So let's add some more adventure to this one. It takes some logistics (unless your super keen/fit). Basically, for a more adventurous option, you are going to either

  • cycle up and down with picnic gear and all (it's probably 15km of uphill of sealed and gravel road at the time of writing this). Either cycle from town or drive to the car park at the bottom of the Remarkables Road.

  • or if you can get your hands on two cars you are going to,

  1. drive to the carpark at the bottom of the Remarkables Road.

  2. Leave your car here.

  3. Then get the driver of the other car to take you, the bikes and the picnic basket full of goodies to the the Remarkables Ski Building.

  4. Your friend drops you (bikes and all) off and is no longer needed (but make them feel good about it don't just tell 'em they aren't needed. That's mean.).

  5. You go off for your picnic (Lake Alta in the summertime is a small hike away and perfect place for a picnic).

  6. When you're done you mount your steeds and bomb down the mountain. There are downhill trails feeding off the main road or you can take the road all the way down.

Note: Hiking to Lake Alta from Remarkables Ski Field is a 'deep summer time' activity only unless you want to potentially hike in the snow. We recommend doing this option in January - March to minimize the risk of snow. Lake Alta is behind the Remarkables Summit and as such in early Summer it can have snow as the sun barely hits it.

Moke Lake:


If you want to feel like you're far away from the hustle and bustle of Queenstown within a 20 - 30 minute drive then this is the spot for you. You'll see sheep, have access to a loop hike around Moke Lake and have camping opportunities as well as having the mini adventure of driving there. See the map above for it's location. In winter time the road is 4WD only so be aware.

How to 'do it right'?

Take a tent and overnight supplies and turn your picnic into a camping trip. In the summertime you may have to pay a DOC (New Zealand's Governmental Department of Conversion) fee. Cash only. $10 p/person.

Wilson's Bay:


If you want to combine a picnic spot with views of Cecil Peak, a swimming spot and some easy to medium difficulty level trail biking then this is the place. It also means a scenic drive out of Queenstown in the direction of Glenorchy.

How to 'do it right'?

Strap your mountain bikes to the car, grab your picnic food form one of the supermarkets in town and get all hot and bothered riding the Wilsons Bay Trails before taking a dip. It's a little colder than Frankton Beach but is an amazingly refreshing after biking the trails.

Where to 'pic up' your 'pic nic' food?

See what I did there but enough ego inflation you just want to know the best places to buy your picnic so, let's do that.

These 3 are best if you're in town or don't have a car,

  • Raeward Fresh (fancy and pricey, better quality food).

  • Alpine Mini Mart (not fancy, still expensive, lower quality but OK food).

  • Fresh Choice (in between in terms of cost and quality).

These ones are nearer Frankton and unless you're already here they require a car. They are especially good if you are heading up Remarkables as they are on the way.

  1. Countdown Supermarket (and surrounding restaurants are options too) near Frankton. More expensive but has a deli for great salads and picnic-style food.

  2. Pack n Save Supermarket also near Frankton. Has good value for money. Has a deli for great salads and picnic style food.

475 views0 comments