Cycling through the vineyards in Gibbston Valley. Photo / Destination Queenstown As the summer comes to an end, cycling the Queenstown Trail makes an attractive autumn getaway, writes Eleanor Hughes
The Queenstown Trail is a 140km cycleway of trails throughout Whakatipu Basin. Trying to decide how to ride them without excessive backtracking led me to Around the Basin – a Queenstown company specialising in mountain bike hire and multi-day ride packages. Their three-day tour looked perfect.
On hire bikes, we cycled the edge of Queenstown Gardens amongst mighty old conifers and willow trees along the foreshore of Lake Whakatipu to reach Frankton and its deserted, yellowish, shingle beach. At Kawarau Falls Bridge, sweeping above Kawarau River’s icy blue waters tumbling white over rocks, we left the lake and joined the Twin Rivers Trail. Riding towards desolate brown hills backdropping blazes of yellow and orange foliage under a moody sky, we later look down on the Kawarau River and then the Shotover, one of the world’s richest gold-bearing rivers.
Shingle islands in the braided Shotover make it look difficult to negotiate but a Kawarau Jet boat blats below the Old Shotover Bridge as we cross it, disappearing around a bend in the direction of snowless Coronet Peak. I read of gold discovery, in 1862, in the Shotover and Kawarau Rivers, and that by the late 1800s a hotel, blacksmith and school occupied the Lower Shotover. The wooden Ferry Hotel was shifted to near the bridge in 1915 and is now a B&B. […]
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