World Running Guide: Queenstown, New Zealand

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World Running Guide: Queenstown, New Zealand

Finding a city’s secret spots can only really happen at human speed. In this series, World Running Guide, we’ll provide information to help you discover your next destination through the eyes (or rather, feet) of a runner.

I remember watching The Lord of the Rings for the first time in middle school and being completely dumfounded. Every element captured me: the story, the cinematography, Howard Shore’s score and that scenery. “Where was this filmed?” I wondered as the beacons flickered across the snow-capped mountains. Well, it’s no secret now. The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit franchises have increased tourism in New Zealand by 50%. This lush, green landscape has lured tourists ever since the films came out in 2001. What people may not know is that Queenstown (close to many of the LOTR locations), along with most of New Zealand, is a prime spot for running.

“Far over the misty mountains,” so they sing. You can’t help but hum along as your feet pound along the dirt path. There are only a handful of places that make you feel this small—and this alive. Whether you’re running around Lake Wakatipu or climbing the heights on the Ben Lomond Track, it’s easy to feel as though your body was created to fly through this place. Welcome to Queenstown, New Zealand.

On Your Mark

lake by grahamjenks.jpg Photo by grahamjenks, CC-BY-NC-ND

If you’re a road racer, then New Zealand isn’t for you. Mountain biking is a favorite sport for folks down under; therefore many running routes are on bike tracks. Queenstown is in the top 10 of Lonely Planet’s list of stunning bike trails, and the Queenstown Bike Park made #3 for Single Tracks. Though the hilly terrain, altitude, and dirt paths might be tricky for some, the scenic views are well worth it.

Get Set

milford by anoldent CC BY SA.jpg Photo by anoldent, CC-BY-SA

A perk about New Zealand is the vast territory for hikers, campers, adventurers and trekkers. Whether you’re training for a marathon, camping with your buddies or trying to outrace your family via bike, the possibilities are endless. Routeburn Track, for example, is a great run that will last two to four days. But beware of your arrival time: flood and avalanche risks are higher during May through October.

Outside magazine gave a shout out to Milford Track, a total distance of 33.5 miles and approximately two hours from Queenstown. Along the trail is a first-row seat to Sutherland Falls, New Zealand’s tallest waterfall, and other rad views.

For novice runners looking for a leisurely jog, Jack’s Point run is the place to go. Circling around Lake Wakatipu in the Queenstown area, the track provides an intermediate route for bikers and an easy tramping/running adventure for those on foot.


old ghost road.jpg Photo courtesy of

When you think of the most prominent running hubs in the world, Queenstown probably doesn’t come to mind. That being said, the city is not without its devoted runners.

For visitors wanting to hop in with locals, the Queenstown Trail Runners hold a wealth of information on groups to run with, trails to try and races to enter. The Monday Runday group meets once a week (guess which day, I dare you) to run for duration of 60-90 minutes through the hills of New Zealand.

Rookie Runners is also a great option for beginners. The group is currently training for the Frontrunner Series which includes 3K, 5K and 10K distances. They meet every Tuesday night at 5:45pm at the Queenstown Events Centre.

If wanderlust is eating you up and you’re craving your next outdoor adventure, then lace up your shoes because Queenstown, New Zealand, is ready for you.

Beginner: Queenstown Mountain Run
Bold: The Big Easy Marathon
Beast: Northburn 100 miler (yes, 100 miles)
Can’t Miss: Glenorchy

Image: Bernard Spragg. NZ

McGee Nall is a freelance writer based out of Athens, Georgia. She was probably eating Nilla wafers and Nutella while writing this.