Queenstown and Wānaka is a mecca of mountain biking with an adventurous culture stomped in that will make your wheels turn hot. There are endless runs catering to riders of all skill levels, from greens to gurus. We’re going to break down what the skill level grades really mean and add some great recommendations for public trails or bike parks for your ability. 

The mountain scenery around Central Otago is stunning to look at, but even more electrifying to shred. 

What are the mountain bike track grades in Queenstown?
When looking for Queenstown and Wānaka bike tracks, you’ll find them labeled according to the skill levels below. In New Zealand, most in the mountain biking world base their track grading on the Kennett Brothers’ grading system.  

Grade 1 / Green – Grade 1 green tracks are for beginner riders. They are typically smooth, wide and fairly flat with minimal obstacles.

Grade 2 / Green – Grade 2 green trails are also suitable for beginners but may have more gentle climbs and avoidable obstacles than a Grade 1. 

Grade 3 / Blue – Grade 3 trails offer a moderate level of difficulty, making them well-suited for riders with some prior experience or a good challenge for those wanting to test themselves. These trails often feature inclines with steeper gradients, minor obstacles such as rocks or roots, with tighter turns and less traction.

Grade 4 / Blue – Grade 4 trails present a combination of challenging features, including extended, steep ascents, narrow pathways, limited traction, and obstacles that prove difficult to navigate around or clear. These trails typically run along exposed edges, making them demanding even for experienced riders.

Grade 5 / Black – Grade 5 trails are technically demanding, featuring leg-burning ascents, narrow pathways, and a collection of hazards that include perilous drop-offs, sharp corners, and formidable obstacles. Don’t shy away from walking or even carrying your bike in some sections.

Grade 6 / Black – These trails are downhill and freeride-oriented trails are tailored for the adrenaline-seekers. They include incredibly steep sections, substantial drop-offs, and unavoidable obstacles. Some tracks may have man-made structures and jumps along the way to amp up the excitement.

Need some track inspo to get started? 

Green Mountain Bike Tracks 


Frankton Track and Kelvin Peninsula Trail 

This Grade 2 trail offers the best of Queenstown in one family-friendly bike trail. It has the perfect mix of gentle riding, sights to see, and coffee stops to ease into the mountain biking experience. Conveniently beginning in Queenstown Gardens in the heart of town and cruising past the Boatshed Cafe and Altitude Brewing to tempt you, the Frankton Track and Kelvin Peninsula Trail has it all. 

Rating: Grade 2

Distance: 16.2km

Approx. time: 1-2 hours 

Arrow River Bridges Trail
The Arrow River Bridges Trail is a Grade 2 track that starts in the historic Arrowtown village and journeys to the heart of Gibbston, guided by the Arrow River’s gentle bubbling water. Thanks to all of the deciduous trees, Autumn becomes a wonderland of orange hues to ride through. 

Rating: Grade 2

Distance: 13.7km

Approx. time: 2-3 hours


Hāwea River Track

This Grade 2 track links Hāwea and Wānaka via Albert Town with a 1-2 hour mountain biking track suitable for beginners and families. The trail takes you over swing bridges and through some of the most stunning riverside riding in the area. 

Rating: Grade 2

Distance: 12km

Approx. time: 1-2 hours

Blue Mountain Bike Tracks 


Rude Rock Trail
Although hyped up to a Grade 4 due to some exposed, steep sections and the occasional rocky drop, this trail can be tackled by confident intermediate riders to find a thrill. You can expect some technical descents, berms, jumps, and the foreboding rocky sections for solid downhill singletrack experience. 

Rating: Grade 4

Distance: 3km

Approx. time: 1-2 hours 

Moonlight Track
The Moonlight Track is a challenging and technical one-way exploration of Moke Lake, the historic Moonlight goldfields, and the remote beauty of Queentown’s backcountry mountain biking. You can start the track at Moke Lake or switch it up and catch the Skyline gondola to the top of Bob’s peak and head off toward the Ben Lomond Saddle.  

Rating: Grade 4

Distance: 4km

Approx. time: 4-5 hours 


Upper Clutha River Track
The mighty Clutha River / Mata-au is a fast flowing turquoise river that was once home to a Māori kāika (settlement) with an estimated two hundred residents and then went on to be a key feature in the Central Otago Gold Rush. To explore this meaningful area, there is a Grade 3 track that winds along the stunning river, featuring the historic Rekos Point Conservation Area and remaining gold mining relics that are over 100 years old. You can tackle the entire trail or select a section of the trail to suit your schedule and ability. 

Rating: Grade 3

Distance: 18.5km

Approx. time: 5-6 hours

Hikuwai Loop Track
The Hikuwai Loop Track is a great introduction to Grade 3 trail mountain biking. You can expect generally manageable gradients and flowy sections with some technical descents, and obstacles thrown in. All of this is nicely packed in a single track loop that rides through some of New Zealand’s stunning flora and fauna. 

Rating: Grade 3

Distance: 9km

Approx. time: 1 hour

Mountain Bike Parks in Queenstown and Wānaka

7 Mile Reserve Bike Park 

Nestled within the 7 Mile Reserve are a variety of trails open year-round and suitable for riders of all skill levels looking to enhance their biking abilities. There are many lines offered for less experienced riders alongside the technical routes, making this park particularly great for beginners. Wilson Bay offers an enticing opportunity to cool off in the pristine waters of Lake Wakatipu on a scorching summer day.

Queenstown Bike Park 

Towering over central Queenstown and weaving through the blanket of pines, Queenstown Bike Park is the country’s first-ever gondola assisted bike park. It offers some uphill help for riders during September to May but you’ll have to stick with pedal power only for the rest of the year. Because of the park’s 450 metre vertical rise and immense 30km+ of tracks, this park is a playground for expert riders who love old-school single-track flow, big air, and technical challenges. 

Coronet Peak Mountain Biking 

When the snow leaks off the slopes and the mountain’s rocky faces are exposed for the summer once again, the area’s frothers quickly swap out skies for spokes. With a number of blue runs, this park is perfect for intermediate riders looking for an epic day out. Coronet Peak opens for the summer riding season on the 9th December 2023. 

Cardrona Mountain Biking 

Cardrona Mountain offers some year-round fun with epic mountain biking runs. The park has two fun runs for beginner riders and the bonus of free entry for kids aged five and under during the summer months! If you’re sliding up into the territory of riding Grades 3-6, Cardrona has an even split of nine blue runs and nine black runs. If you’re feeling really spicy, there’s even one double black diamond; the ‘Mile High Club’. Mark the 9th December 2024 in your calendar; the opening date for this alpine bike park. 

Wynyard Jump Park 

If you’ve always been told you have your head in the clouds and couldn’t figure out why it’s a bad thing, this is the place for you. Spectate or get some air at the gnarliest jumps around. A dream for riders that love to send it, Wynyard is home to multiple jump events featured in the Queenstown Bike Festival, an epic biking event in Queenstown not to be missed!


How to care for our local tracks

If you are as stoked about our local mountain biking tracks as we are, there are a number of ways to lend a hand. The Queenstown Mountain Bike Club is to thank for building and maintaining many of the best trails in Queenstown and Wānaka You can get involved with their work by volunteering on a Thursday Night Dig to maintain trails. You can also get involved with the Queenstown Bike Festival or support their events by buying a ticket, as all funds raised go towards the club as well.  


There you have it riders, all of the best places to start if you’re visiting Queenstown to hit the trails or just a local looking to challenge yourself on the most popular technical runs. Queenstown and Wānaka have some of the best mountain biking trails and rugged views in the South Island, and we definitely pinch ourselves everyday because of it!