Blazing the trails in Jack’s Point
By Bethany G. Rogers
We’re spoilt for choice in the Queenstown Lakes area for stunning running and mountain biking trails. Whatever your fitness and experience level, there’s a trail or two out there for you and where better to start than at Jack’s Point?
This is the sunny side of Queenstown, so you’ve got a little extra daylight to enjoy the trails. In the height of summer, there’s often time to squeeze in an adventure after work or school.
All of the trails in Jack’s Point are suitable for running or mountain biking (or e-mountain biking if that’s your thing!) – just be aware of other trail users and if you’re tackling one of the more advanced trails, be careful before you whip around those blind corners. Another advantage to the trails in Jack’s Point is that you can bring your pooch along with you – all of the trails allow dogs, provided they are on a lead.
The Jack’s Point trails (except for the Lakeside Trail) are all loops and you can start and finish at the Clubhouse. A note of caution here – finishing at the Clubhouse means it’s almost impossible to avoid finishing with a tasty coffee (or beer, or wine) overlooking Lake Tewa.
Take it easy
For a relaxed afternoon stroll, or if you’re on adventure with youngsters, you can’t go wrong with the Lake Tewa Loop. It’s an easy, mostly flat walk that’ll take around 25 minutes (walking) and as the name suggests, it’s a loop. Start at the Clubhouse and follow the trail around the small lake, keeping an eye out for birdlife. Don’t forget to reward yourself with a treat from the Clubhouse once you’ve completed the loop.
If you’re looking for something with the same easy gradient as the Lake Tewa Loop, but you want to up the distance, the Remarkables Loop is another great track. This is another well-formed track that’s easy to follow and a great option if you’ve got kids in tow. It takes about 1.5 hours to walk and it loops around the terraces and Highland South. As the name suggests, the Remarkables tower over you. Look up and see how many paragliders you can spot on a bluebird day.
Step it up
The Preserve Loop takes about an hour to complete and is a more difficult gradient than the Remarkables and Lake Tewa trails. Some steep sections and grassy pathways will get the blood pumping (particularly if you’re on a bike), but if you start at the Clubhouse, you’ll enjoy a gentle slope down back to your starting point. You’ll get views over Lake Wakatipu, the Preserve and over the golf course and driving range. The track is well sign posted, but let’s be honest – the gorgeous views can be a distraction. If you end up on the golf course, you’ve definitely gone the wrong way. A small section of this trail is on the road, so keep an eye out for cars. You’ll also cross a few fields with livestock, so make sure you close the gates behind you to avoid being followed home by a flock of sheep.
On a mission
The Jack’s Point Loop (2 – 2.5 hours) has plenty of steep climbs and rocky downhill sections to whet the appetite of more athletic mountain bikers, walkers and runners. You can start at the Clubhouse, or, there’s a car park at the beginning of the track past the tennis courts towards Woolshed Bay. The track begins with a steep, grassy climb (you’ll reach an elevation of 474 metres), but the views across the lake are worth it. From the top, there’s long, sweeping corners, short rocky downhill sections and a few more steep uphill sections to complete the loop. There’s a few great spots to stop and admire the view (and catch your breath). Some of the track at the ‘far end’ of the loop is narrow – so watch out for other trail users, particularly if you’re a speed demon on a mountain bike! The Jack’s Point Loop links up with a few of the other trails, so you can get creative and create your own super Jack’s trail incorporating parts of the Preserve, Lake Tewa and Remarkables Loop tracks.
The Jack’s Point Loop links up to the Lakeside Trail too. This isn’t a loop, but an undulating track over tussock and scrub to Kelvin Heights. It’ll take about four hours on foot and has some tight corners and steep pitches – it’s an easy-to-moderate walking trail and a Grade 3 mountain biking trail. This rewarding trail finishes at Jardine Park, where there’s a fun little pump track for bikes. You’ll need to arrange transport back or make sure you’ve got enough water, snacks and energy to ride/ walk/ run back to Jack’s Point. Though it requires a bit more effort, the beautiful views of the lake and mountains are well worth it.
There’s so many great hiking and walking trails in Queenstown, but the late evening sunshine and the great views around Jack’s Point make the trails around here even more rewarding. With a good variety of trails for all experience and fitness levels, get amongst it and get exploring!
About the author
Bethany Rogers is a writer and editor who lives in the Queenstown Lakes region, with a giant house rabbit called Oscar Wilde. When she's not writing, she loves to hike, run, snowboard, swim and paddle board in the mountains and lakes near her home.
Photography by James Allan