School holiday are almost here! And I like it. I’m looking forward to lazy mornings, no school lunches, and the flexibility to do things when we want.
To help you get the most out of the upcoming holidays, we’ve pulled together a list of 25 bike friendly school holiday ideas, including some recommendations from our Official Trail Partners. We’ve broken the list down into categories to help you find ideas that will suit you and your kids.
KID FRIENDLY BIKE / HIKE TRAILS
1. Queenstown Gardens to Frankton Marina Return
This is a mostly flat and wide, easy trail, 12km return with plenty of places to stop and enjoy the view or fossick by the many lakeside beaches on route. Starting at the Queenstown Gardens, you’ll need to tempt the kids away from the epic lakefront playground first with offers of a fluffy and cake at the Boatshed Cafe at Frankton Marina.
2. Kelvin Heights Sculpture Trail
This easy loop of 2.5kms is ideal for families. The trail takes you around the edges of the Kelvin Heights Golf Course and rewards with impressive views, hidden beach coves and a series of extraordinary art pieces generously gifted by an anonymous benefactor. See how many you can find.
3. Tucker Beach Trail
Starting at the Historic Old Lower Shotover Bridge, this 6.7km return trail gently climbs up over the Arrow irrigation pipeline, following a high terrace along the true right of the Shotover River. This ride gives you great views of both Coronet Peak and The Remarkables and skirts around bluffs before dropping back towards the Tucker Beach Wildlife Management Reserve, home to a number of rare birds including the Banded Dotterel and Black-fronted Tern. Great for young nature spotters. Return the same way.
4. Arrowtown Millennium Trail
Due to its proximity to Arrowtown and its ease, this short, easy trail has become one of the busiest sections of the Queenstown Trail, however please don’t let this put you off, it’s simply stunning. You’ll find bridges to ride over, plenty of swimming holes, the odd swing and don’t forget to grab a gold pan for hours of endless fun. Trail distance is 3.25kms, so easily done in less than an hour.
5. Lake Hayes Trail
This 8km loop trail is more of an intermediate level ride, with a few climbs and some steep drop offs. The trail is a short scenic circuit and on a still day, the lake produces the most incredible reflections of the mountains surrounding it. Be sure to look out for wild gooseberries and other fruit trees along the way.
6. Gibbston River Trail
This easy 8.7km (one way) trail starts at the AJ Hackett Kawarau Bungy Centre, take the kids for a jump or just watch for a while. Then follow the trail as it meanders along the true right of the glistening Kawarau River and through the vines. Go as far as you please, then find a shady spot for a picnic at the Gibbston Community Reserve or head to Gibbston Tavern for great pizza.
7. Time Tripper
Underneath the main pier in Queenstown you’ll find a secret little underwater observatory come cinema. Meet Time Tripper, brought to you by KJet. An interactive cinema showing a state of the art animated show, telling the story of the Whakatipu region, starting 90 million years ago through to today. Plus there's still opportunity to see the famous slinky eels and diving ducks when the screens rise up after the show.
8.Queenstown Golf Club
Queenstown Golf Club, located at the end of the Kelvin Heights peninsula is regarded as one of the most picturesque golf courses in the world. Book a round for you and the kids, followed by lunch in the club house and a sculpture spotting bike ride.
9. Lakes District Museum & Gallery
The Lakes District Museum is appropriately set in the former gold mining town of Arrowtown. The museum complex is set around 3 historical buildings including the town’s original bank, you'll also find a fantastic art gallery showcasing local artists and a shop with a great selection of local books. Open 10-4pm daily.
45 km of Pure Adrenalin. Take on the mighty Shotover & Kawarau Rivers. This 60 minute Jet boat ride is the ultimate adrenaline fueled activity and fun for all ages of kids (and adults!). This would be a fun adventure for the kids during the holidays. Check out Bookme for deals and family packages.
11. AJ Hackett Bungy
Live more, fear less! Choose between 3 bungy sites, two swings, a catapult or zipline. Why not cycle to the Kawarau Bungy Centre and surprise the kids with a jump. You'll find a café onsite too.
12. All Mountain NZ
All Mountain NZ have a mountain bike spring camp during the Oct School holidays. If your wee groms are looking to advance their MTB skills and are keen on bike park/dirt jump style riding check it out.
KID FRIENDLY PLACES TO EAT & DRINK
13. Jack’s Point Restaurant
Jack’s Point Restaurant offers friendly service, quality seasonal food and generous portions. Perfectly situated to rejuvenate you after a long ride. Whether the kids are keen to ride from Kelvin Heights or you can drive out there and simply enjoy the local walking and biking trails followed by a lazy lunch. Their outdoor space looking out towards Lake Tewa is epic and provides a great space for the kids to run around, plus the Jack's Point playground is just a stones throw away.
14. Fork & Tap Alehouse
Located in the heart of Arrowtown, this charming gastro pub and craft beer bar is situated in the heritage precinct on Buckingham Street. Here you'll find great food and a brilliant outdoor area with a big playhouse and sandpit to occupy the little ones. Perfectly located right on the Arrow River Bridges Trail section of the Queenstown Trail. The hot chips are highly recommended.
15. The Boat Shed Cafe & Bistro
One of my local favourites, the Boat Shed Cafe & Bistro is located right on the shores of Lake Whakatipu. Cycle or walk along the Frankton Track or arrive by boat to the Frankton Marina. Their seasonal menu features the very best, locally sourced produce, so sit back, relax and the kids can head to the 'boat room' to check out the model boats and get a glimpse at some local boating history. The Boat shed also offers a great outdoor area for afternoon relaxing pre/post/or mid way through your ride.
16. Millbrook Resort
A 5 minute drive from Arrowtown and approximately 15 minutes from Queenstown, Millbrook Resort is the ideal destination to visit whilst exploring over the holidays. Arrive by bike from Lower Shotover (13.5km) or via Arrowtown (1.5km) via the Countryside Trail. You'll find great food and drink options and a wonderful leafy, park like space to wander free, plus a great playground with a trampoline, always a favourite with my kids.
17. Gibbston Tavern
Another historic pub, a remnant from the district's gold mining past and adjacent to the Gibbston River Trail which links directly to the Queenstown Trail network, it's a a handy stopover for travelers, bikers and walkers. You'll find a sheltered garden, outdoor fire and the best wood fired pizza. A really great spot for the family on a warm spring day.
Set on three acres of alpine hillside, just 5 minutes drive mid way between Queenstown and Frankton. This unique hotel overlooks Lake Whakatipu and the Remarkables range. Sherwood offers a unique setting to unwind, and reconnect with self and nature. There's a huge outdoor area for the kids to roam, fantastic pizza and always a welcoming atmosphere.
BEST OUTDOOR PLAYSPACES FOR BIKE LOVING KIDS
19. Hanley Farm Playground and Pump Track
You could spend the day here, I'd say it's Queenstown's best playground (I'm biased, its my local). You'll find slides, swings, mini trampolines, sandpit, zipline and a professionally built pump track that attracts biker, scooters and skater kids (and adults) from all across the district. There's a park to picnic on, BBQ's, an outside gym, plus a wee creek to cool off in.
20. Queenstown Gardens
Queenstown was blessed with a million dollar playground right by the beach in 2018 and it really has become a destination in itself. Here you'll find multi-sensory activities, slides, swings and the old rope swing over Horne Creek survived the revamp. Bring togs and/or spare clothes for your young water babes as this place is bliss on warm sunny days. Ride further into Queenstown Gardens and you'll find lots of opportunity for exploration and a pretty cool skate park. It's easy to lose a day just here.
Arrowtown is one big play space, head to Rose Douglas Park which has a great playground or head to the Arrow River, where you'll find a very popular skate park and pump track, but best off all in my humble opinion is trail/river fossicking, lots of opportunities for kids and adults to explore the banks of the Arrow River - take a dip, build a dam, create a tree shelter in the forest, forage wild fruit, literally hours of endless fun and plenty of shade which is always a bonus. Don't forget hot chips in the pub afterwards.
22. Lake Hayes Estate
A massive space for hours of fun, slap bang right in the middle of Lake Hayes Estate. Bring the bikes as there's a great wee trail for young riders and a pump track. Plus you'll find a great playground with zipline, plenty of things to climb, sandpit and a huge sports field to run the legs of the young folks. When it's time to eat or drink, The Hayes is right next door with its very own playground too, hit them up for coffee, wine and/or lunch.
23. Jardine Park
If you are looking for a day of exploring, venture to the end of Kelvin Peninsula and you'll find Jardine Park, packed full of adventure opportunities, You'll find a heap of family friendly bike tracks, a small pump track, playground and new-ish epic zipline - the longest in all Queenstown playgrounds. Plus easy access to the Queenstown Trails' Jack's Point Trail, Kelvin Heights Sculpture Trail and the Kelvin Peninsula Trail. For refreshment try the Queenstown Golf Club or head down the road to the Hilton.
24. Shotover Country
There are a couple of options for some bike fun in Shotover Country. Make your way to Richmond Park, opposite Shotover Country Primary School and you'll find a 300sqm pump track including a ramp, a wee race track and several other features to help younger children gain confidence on their bikes, scooters or skate boards. If there's still energy in the legs, cycle down to the Shotover Delta, past Shotover Equestrian on Headley Drive and you'll find a new trail tucked away in the bush called Sweet Robbie. Built by the Tourism Workforce Alliance post Covid lockdown in May 2020. This is a really fun 1.4m flow trail, perfectly suited to kids and adults and worthy a few laps.
25. Jack's Point & Homestead Bay
Jack's Point playground really is worth the 20 minutes drive from Queenstown. This playground ticks all the boxes, zipline, climbing frames, mega tunnel slide and plenty of space to run or kick a ball around. When your time is done here, take a short ride or walk down to Homestead Bay. A bit of a secret locals hangout, the beach here is a fossickers dream, or bring the paddleboards/kayaks for some water fun too. If you've come with your bike, follow the 4wd track south that hugs the Lake Whakatipu and you'll find a relatively new trail that flows nicely all the way to Drift Bay (Lakeside Estate). This trail was build in 2020, a co-funded project from QTT and the Lakeside Estate Homeowners Association and we hope will ultimately form part of a link all the way to Kingston. That's the big dream, but in the mean time, it's a short and easy meander to the lovely park-like setting at Drift Bay, grab a picnic and off you go.