Wye Creek Track is probably our new favourite hike near Queenstown!

Back when we lived in New Zealand we used to come to Queenstown all the time (we lived in Milford Sound) so we’ve done our fair share of hikes here – but we’d never explored Wye Creek Before.

This hike will take you on a zig-zag trail above Lake Wakatipu before you enter the forest where you’ll see a hydro dam.

From there you’ll continue hiking on a pipe (with railings for safety) before reaching a helipad, a waterfall, and an awesome climbing wall!

This is definitely a hike for the books! In this post, you’ll find everything you need to know about hiking the Wye Creek Trail near Queenstown including where to park, what to bring, and what to expect!

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Everything you need to know about the Wye Creek Track near Queenstown

The view of Lake Wakatipu from Wye Creek helicopter landing

Wye Creek Track is one of those hikes where you just get an absolute high after completing it!

I don’t know if it’s from the awesome view overlooking Lake Wakatipu, the fact we didn’t know what to expect, or simply because it’s such an awesome hike – but we loved it!

Right from the zig-zags at the start to walking over the pipe and then taking in the view from the top of the helicopter pad the Wye Creek Track is one of the best hikes we’ve done on the south island.

This is definitely more of a local trail and it’s also very popular in the climbing community. There’s a good chance you’ll see some climbers once you reach the helicopter pad at the top of the track.

The zig-zags are challenging and there’s a fair bit of elevation but it really isn’t that long…

Once you smash out the zig-zags you’re basically halfway there and before you know it, you reach the most incredible views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains.

Practical information about Wye Creek Track

Distance: 4.0 km return / 2.48 miles return
Elevation: 332 m / 1089 ft. elevation gain
Type: In-and-out trail
Length: 1.5-2.5 hours return (can be done faster ~1 hour)
Difficulty: Moderate (some elevation and uneven surface)
Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars

Click here to see a trail map for the Wye Creek Track

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Here’s a picture of the beginning of the Wye Creek Track

This is where the trail officially starts

Finding the Wye Creek car park

The entrance to Wye Creek Track carpark

From Queenstown, you take Highway 6 (also known as the Devil’s Staircase) towards Milford Sound for 9.8 kilometres before you reach the trailhead on the left-hand side of the road.

You’ll see a closed gate on a dirt road, and that’s where you’ll go! Open the gate and drive onto the dirt road (remember to shut the gate after you).

This road is pretty short but it can get a little dodgy as there are lots of big potholes and some bushes stretching out onto the road.

We accidentally got a few surface scratches in our car here from the bushes so be careful with your car.

When it comes to the potholes though, if you rent a big SUV or 4×4 like we did then it shouldn’t be a problem at all to get to the trailhead.

If you’re in a van or a smaller car though it might be worth taking your time on the “road” and trying to avoid the worst of the potholes.

We might be over-exaggerating it a bit because honestly, it was fine to drive on, just super bumpy. But we’d rather say the road is worse than it is than say nothing and your car can’t make it to the trailhead.

The good thing is that it’s a short drive – and then you get to a big opening where you can park your car from where you can start your journey up to the helicopter pad.

Start the hike up the zig-zags toward the forest

The first section with zig zags begins

The beginning of the hike is probably the least exciting as you can’t really see Lake Wakatipu that much yet and you’re walking on a dirt road.

It doesn’t last long though and you’ll quickly gain elevation thanks to all the zig-zags you must hike up!

We know a lot of people don’t like zig-zag trails but we actually quite enjoy them because you gain steady elevation and you usually get some pretty good views at the same time.

After a short while on the zig-zag section, you’ll start to see Lake Wakatipu! Take in the views as you hike because soon you’ll be in the forest…

PS: There is actually a “toilet” about halfway up the trail right after the zig-zag finishes. We didn’t use it but it is there and has been put in place by a local climbing club!

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Through the forest up to the hydro dam

At some point, you walk below the pipe!

Just after you see the porta potty, you’ll cross over a little fence and you’ll start to make your way up the forest trail.

The views here will be limited as you’ll be walking in between trees and bushes (on a clear path). The only thing you’ll be able to see is maybe a small bit of the waterfall in the distance but that’s about it.

Again, this stretch is quite short and easy to follow. There will be a few signs showing you that you’re still on the trail but once you get to a fork in the road, make sure to stay right.

If you go left, you continue on the trail to Lake Alta which is also beautiful – but that trail is over 25 kilometres long one way! Not really what you prepared for today 😉

Shortly, you’ll see the hydro dam and you’ll understand why you’ve been following a pipe halfway up the mountain.

It’s a cool spot to get some pictures as there is a ton of water flowing and a pretty cool waterfall because of the dam. 

Continue past the hydro dam along the pipe

Dom at the hydro dam!

Before planning the Wye Creek track we didn’t actually do too much research (we just followed local recommendations) so we didn’t fully know what to expect – other than where to park and how to find the trail directions.

So seeing the hydro dam was actually quite a surprise for us.

Once you see the hydrodam make sure to take a right and walk across the bridge.

You’ll know very quickly if you’re on the right track because you’ll start walking “on top of” a pipe. You aren’t walking directly on the pipe though – there are boards above the pipe you walk on and railings to hold onto to make it quite safe.

The views from the pipes are incredible

It’s wide enough to basically have one-way traffic and if people are walking opposite you, there are multiple sections with room on the side to let people pass.

As soon as you start walking on the pipe, the views completely open up and you can see stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding area.

At this point, you’re somewhere around 600 meters above sea level and with no trees in front of you, you can imagine the views ahead of you!

Snap a few pictures before continuing for a few more minutes, and you’ll hear the waterfall and see the climbing wall and helicopter pad!

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Take in the view from the helicopter pad

If walking along the pipe isn’t enough then hopefully the view from the helicopter pad will make your jaw drop!

Maybe it’s because we didn’t know what to expect from the Wye Creek track but we found it to be amazing!

From the helicopter pad, you get an almost 180-degree view of Lake Wakatipu, you have a stunning waterfall next to you, and maybe you’ll see some rock climbers on the wall to the left of you as well.

Wye Creek rock climbers

You can see the trail continues further but this view is where the Wye Creek Track ends and we thought the spot was awesome for a break before going down so we stayed here and just took in the view.

Make sure to go on a nice, clear day like we did so you get to take in all the views. You can even see the Jack’s Point track in the distance too!

Back down to the Wye Creek Track trailhead

Views of State Highway 6 below Wye Creek

Since this is an in-and-out trail you’ll make your way back the same way you came up.

You’ll walk along the short stretch of pipe until you get to the hydro dam. From there you’ll turn left down the mountain and walk through the forest for a short stretch before you get back to the dirt zig-zag trail.

It’s all downhill from there. Luckily it’s a lot faster going down than up and you’ll have Lake Wakatipu to admire on the way down as well, teasing you to jump in after you complete the hike!

Next thing you know you’ll be back at the “car park” and be done with the Wye Creek Track!

If you want a coffee, drink, or some food we recommend stopping by The Farmhouse in Hanley’s Farm!

They have outdoor seating, good food and coffee, and it’s in the quiet neighbourhood of Hanley’s Farm near Jack’s Point only 10 minutes from the trailhead of Wye Creek!

Or if you want to go for a swim, Frankton Beach is a good option that isn’t too far away.

What to bring on the Wye Creek hike

Dom taking in one last view

One thing we really like about this hike is that the track up to the helicopter pad isn’t that long which means you don’t need to bring a ton of stuff. Some water and snacks are pretty much all you need.

It is a proper trek so the right gear is also required but nothing out of the ordinary.

Anyway, here’s a list of what we brought and what we suggest you do too to give you an idea of what to pack while doing shorter hikes in New Zealand.

Packing list for the Wye Creek Track hike:

  • Water! We always fill up our LifeStraw bottles before hikes or day trips and even during them when we can.
  • Sunscreen!! There’s been multiple occasions while we’ve been hiking in New Zealand or doing something outdoorsy and the UV index has shown 9.
  • There is a bit of elevation on this one so hiking poles could come in handy. Just keep in mind that you can’t really use them on the pipe so on that section you can put them away.
  • A power bank is good to bring – especially if you plan to take lots of pictures and videos or if you want to go on some of the side trails. Chances are you’ll need your phone both for trail directions, photos, and as a GPS for the drive so it’s better to be prepared.
  • Definitely bring lunch or some snacks to enjoy at the Wye Creek Track viewpoint. You can enjoy lunch overlooking Lake Wakatipu.
  • Any extra clothes in case it gets a little chilly up at a higher elevation. 

You can check out this great list of hiking gear to get some more inspiration!

The best affordable camera for beginners

The Sony Alpha a6000 mirrorless camera

If you’re looking for the best and most affordable camera for beginners, check out the Sony Alpha a6000 Camera.

This is the camera we’ve been using for years and still use to this day.

It’s perfect for travelling and super easy to use – even if you’re a beginner.

Before you make your way up to the waterfall

Check the weather

The weather definitely plays a factor on this hike and we only recommend going in dry weather as the trail would get too slippery in the rain and the water from the hydro dam potentially too powerful.

You can see the weather for The Remarkable Mountain range here which will give you a good idea of what type of weather you can expect before embarking on this trail.

Wear hiking shoes

We always recommend wearing hiking shoes or trail shoes when hiking – this trail included!

There is quite a bit of the trail that’s either on a dirt trail or in the trees where it can get muddy after rainfall. Wearing proper footwear will definitely come in handy on this one. 

If you don’t have any hiking shoes, we highly recommend the Newton Ridge hiking shoes from Columbia. Jo got these last year and she loves them!

Leave no trace

When you go hiking (and do other outdoor adventure activities), always remember to follow the 7 principles of leaving no trace.

This means:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Dispose of waste properly.
  4. Leave what you find.
  5. Minimize campfire impacts.
  6. Respect wildlife.
  7. Be considerate of others.

Rent a car in New Zealand

Our RAV4 SUV rental did not disappoint

For this specific hike, a car is required since you have to make your way from Queenstown to Wye Creek (unless you hitchhike to and from the trail which we actually wouldn’t recommend for this specific hike as there isn’t really a safe spot to pull over on the road, Devil’s Staircase).

We’ve had a car hire here in New Zealand for our whole trip and it’s been really nice and convenient, especially getting to some of the lesser touristy hikes like this one!

The longer ahead you book your car you’ll likely get a better price. We used DiscoverCars to rent both of our cars in New Zealand (we had a Prius on the north island and a nice Toyota RAV 4 here on the south island) and we managed to find a really good price for both cars (around $50 NZD per day during peak season).

Our RAV4 SUV was particularly good for this hike because of the small stretch of bumpy dirt road you need to drive on to get to the trailhead.

Check out DiscoverCars here to find the best deal for your rental car!

Queenstown Car Rental widget.

When is the best time to explore Wye Creek Track?

The weather in the Remarkables (the mountain range this trail is located within) can change quite quickly. Luckily Wye Creek is a relatively short hike and you don’t need a big window of good weather to do it – just a few hours.

That being said, any day with decent weather is a good day to go and do the hike. Wye Creek can be done for a good chunk of the year although not in snow or heavy rainfall.

Aim for a sunny day for the most rewarding views!

How to get to the Wye Creek trailhead

The directions from Queenstown to the Wye Creek Track trailhead

The trailhead is a short 20-minute drive from Queenstown. You’ll be driving south along the beautiful Lake Wakatipu which you’ll get awesome views of along the hike.

Once you get to the “turnoff” for the trailhead, there is a short stretch where you have to drive on a dirt road that has some potholes.

A 4×4 vehicle is ideal but you can get to the trailhead if you have a small car and you can take your time and avoid the potholes.

It really is only a 1-2 minute drive on the gravel/dirt road so it’s nothing too crazy!

You can see how to get to Wye Creek from Queenstown here.

Where to stay in Queenstown?

Since Queenstown is such a popular place to visit, there are tons of good places of accommodation!

Stay in the centre of Queenstown for the best location, in Frankton for some cheaper options, or in Harvey’s Farm or Jack’s Point for the best mountain views (you’ll need a car if you stay in Harvery’s Farm or Jack’s Point).

Browse hotels and other places of accommodation below!

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Recap of hiking Wye Creek track near Queenstown

View of Lake Wakatipu from the zig-zag stretch

We’ve done our fair share of hikes near Queenstown and this has to be one of the best ones we’ve done!

The Wye Creek hike offers some awesome views, a beautiful waterfall, and you get to hike along a pipe which is pretty unique. It’s short and sweet but still a good workout – so pretty much everything we look for in a hike!

The fact that you get to see the whole area from on top of a helicopter pad in the mountains is pretty cool too.

We hope you have the best time exploring Queenstown and the Remarkables!

There are some awesome hikes in the area and you’ll definitely get a chance to see some amazing scenery in the area.

If you have any questions about hiking Wye Creek Track, how to get there, what else to do in the Queenstown area, or anything else, feel free to DM us on Instagram or leave a comment below!

We hope you have an amazing time on this hike near Queenstown and exploring New Zealand, one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

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  1. Lita on April 20, 2024 at 6:14 am

    New Zealand is on my short list of places that I need to return to! I feel like Dylan and I would love this trail, so definitely need to save this.

    • redwhiteadventures on April 20, 2024 at 4:09 pm

      Oh you guys would totally love it!! I hope you make it back there some day so you can show him aruond <3
      - Jo

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