Riding the Rail Trails around Queenstown New Zealand travel blog

Hills of Queenstown

View of Shotover River

The end of Slopehill Rd

Catherine Hill summit

Arrowtown main street

Overlooking Lake Hayes

Too steep to ride up

View of the Shotover River

Our little Bach by the lake felt the full brunt of the gale force winds overnight and we only really settled to sleep once we had closed most of the windows and doors. We woke at 8am Sydney time which unfortunately meant 10am New Zealand time, so we decided on a leisurely start to the day, Jonno had a quick breakfast then set off for a thirty minute run. Obviously any planned bike rides were not going to provide enough exercise.

After much debate as to the best alternative, we set off round midday headed for Lake Hayes, with the option of continuing further to historic Arrowtown. The ride out of queenstown was gorgeous as we took the scenic route, and was very easy riding in the early stages. The surrounding mountains should have provided a hint, and sure enough the route became very undulating, even steep in parts. Jonno set the pace, and whilst making emergency repairs to my bike chain, a helpful local cruised down the hill on his electric bike to inform us that Lance (our erstwhile son) was nearly at the top of the hill. This seemed an appropriate name for Jonno!

The lower Shotover bridge provided beautiful views of the Shotover River, and another helpful local suggested the best route for our travels. His emphasis on quiet roads actually translated to the most hilly roads as we learnt on the aptly named Slopehill Road. Although at least we managed to all cycle our way to the top of this one.

Not long after Slopehill Rd, we encountered our first switchback climb, and it was intimidating from the outset. Even Lance couldn't make it to the top. We were rewarded at the top of Christine's hill with beautiful views and a tranquil ride through the Millbrook estate, an over large golfing estate.

Arrowtown was worth the ride, and after lunch in the park we strolled through the Main Street and treated ourselves to amazing ice creams from Patagonia. We will certainly be keeping an eye out for this chain in our travels.

The ride back took us down the switchback and around Hayes Lake with its magnificent houses and lovely views. Any hope of seeing the famous mountain reflections were dashed early on with the choppy whitecaps. The trail continued on through the lake Hayes estate with its decidedly less magnificent houses and then back along the shotover river with more challenging switchbacks, Jonno being the only one to cycle to the top.

Back over the shotover bridge we took the tamer commuter route back into Queenstown returning to the Bach around 7pm, ready for showers and dinner. A total of 46kms on a gorgeous day of clear blue skies and enough of a breeze to ensure we didn't get too hot (except for the last few switchbacks on the shotover river with the breeze was almost strong enough to blow us off our bikes). All in all a sensational riding day.

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