The imaginatively named Big Hill Track is a 12.5km track linking Macetown (which is 20 mins walk from the start) and Arrowtown via Big Hill Saddle. This is true to it’s name, being a big hill at 1,060m, which I guess is not high enough for a mountain pass.
I’ve walked the track three times, though the full length of it only once coming back from the Motatapu Track. The first time was my first proper walk in New Zealand, up Sawpit Gully (which links into the Big Hill Track) enjoying the amazing autumn colours and views back toward Arrowtown. I managed to get lost, ending up scrambling down the side of a steep gully return to the river, and missed the last bus back to Queenstown. My tramping skills have thankfully improved since…
The second time was in early June after snowfall, when I made it up to Big Hill Saddle from Arrowtown, and bit further up the hillside for quite incredible views of the snow covered landscape.
Having now walked the whole track I can confirm that the best sections are definitely on the Arrowtown side. From close to Macetown the track crosses three streams, which are too wide / lacking in suitable rocks to cross without getting your feet wet. It then heads relatively steeply up the hillside to the saddle with the views behind, before far easier walking back down the hill, or in my case this time mostly running to catch a bus again, this time successfully with five mins to spare (the buses are only once an hour).
If I return for a fourth time I hope it’s around December / January time when the colourful lupine are out in force. This photo from April shows how extensive they are on the Macetown side, they would have been quite a sight in season.