There is nothing like strapping on your walking shoes and hitting the wide open trails. Whether you’re an avid hiker or new to the outdoorsy action, Queenstown is the ultimate place to channel your inner nature-nerd and get your heart pumping. The city is situated just a hop, skip and a jump away from some of the country’s most incredible hiking trails. Some hikes or as the Kiwi’ would say “tramps” are more demanding than others, ranging from leisurely strolls to 8-hour endurance tests. It’s the perfect cure to any hangover, promises a seemingly endless supply of iconic scenery and will probably make you feel like you’ve transported into a National Geographic documentary. What more could you ask for?!
Queenstown Hill Hike
Located in the heart of the city, the Queenstown Hill Hike is undoubtedly the most popular pick for locals and tourists alike. The walk offers spectacular views, a glimpse into the region’s rich history and plenty of picnic spots along the way. A 500-metre climb through pine forest to the summit of Te Tapu-nui (mountain of intense sacredness) will take you past the popular ‘Basket of Dreams” sculpture as well as six information plates that provide insight into Queenstown’s past. Our favourite pit stop along the way is definitely on the shores of the small mountain lake.
Duration: 3 hours, 4.2 kilometres
Trailhead: 15 minute walk from town centre on Belfast Street
Tiki Trail Queenstown
There is something about the name of this trail that just makes us want to strap on our shoes and get walking. The 1-hour hike to the top of the gondola winds through Dougals fir and beech forest, but it’s the view from the top that attracts most people. Access the track from next to the gondola station at the end of Brecon Street and prepare your camera – it’ll be getting a work out.
Duration: 1 hour
Trailhead: Beside the Skyline Gondola Station at the end of Brecon Street
Ben Lomond Trail
The Ben Lomond is a slightly more physically demanding option but the reward is worth every second of the struggle. You’ll start by winding through alpine tussocks and shrubs, before commence the 1438-metres of elevated trail. The track gets more challenging with every turn and is a great way to really test your limits. The older or less fit members of the group may choose to just walk the Ben Lomond Saddle (3-4 hours return) but the tough-nuts may opt for the full Ben Lomond Summit (6 – 8 hours return). On a clear day, you’ll be treated to exceptional views across Mount Earnslaw and Mount Aspiring with both options.
Duration: 6- 8 hours, 40km
Trailhead: Take the Skyline Gondola to Bob’s Peak or hike from the bottom of the gondola (additional 1 hour)
Bob’s Cove Track
This is the perfect option for anyone wanting to get the perfect Instagram snap but isn’t too keen on actually working up a sweat. Bob’s Cove Track is probably the shortest and easiest hike in Queenstown, talking around half an hour at a slow pace. During the warmer months of the year, you might be tempted by the abundance of swimming opportunities along the way but keep in mind, the water hardly ever creeps above 11 degrees!
Duration: 30 – 45 minutes
Trailhead: 15 minutes drive away from the CBD towards Glenorchy
Moke Lake Loop Track
Moke Lake Loop is the sort of backdrop that you would expect to see in the background of a YouTube wedding proposal video. The insanely beautiful landscape is so picturesque, you’ll have trouble pulling your jaw off the floor. A horseshoe shaped path surrounds the lake and takes just a couple of hours to scale. Winding along the shore, you’ll be astounded by the glistening waters and serene atmosphere.
Duration: 2 hours
Trailhead: 15 minutes drive away from the two centres towards Glenorchy, and another 5 minutes on Moke Lake road.
“Secret” Moke Lake Viewpoint
This could just be one of the locals’ best kept secrets. The “Secret” Moke Lake View Point trail only takes around 45 – 60 minutes to complete, heading straight up one of the nearby peaks towards the lookout. The steep terrain, loose rocks and winding pathways means it’s no easy journey, but all the best rides are a little rough. The view from the top is probably the most spectacular way to view Moke Lake and is much quieter and uninterrupted than the classic Moke Lake Loop Track.
Duration: 45 – 60 minutes
Trailhead: Start on the Moke Lake Loop Track which heads to the right along the edge of the lake and crosses a small bridge. Once over the bridge, continue to follow the marked trail until you hit the end of the farmers fence. Turn right here.
Situated near the top of the internationally-acclaimed Remarkables Mountain Range, it’s probably no surprise that Lake Alto is beautiful beyond worlds. It’s classified as an advanced trail but is slightly easier to manage during summer. During winter, you’re treated to a unique view of the white-wonderland and during the warmer months of the years the trail winds through rugged and rocky terrain. All year round, it’s an absolute delight of a hike.
Duration: 1.5 return from the Remarkables Car Park
Trailhead: 25 minutes drive from the town centre towards Te Anau. The trail starts at the Remarkables Ski Lodge on Remarkables Ski Hill Road.
Some people say that Cecil Peak is doable in a day, but those people must be prepared to endure very, very long days. The challenging and sketchy conditions means that many people chose to embrace this landscape via helicopter. But if you’re feeling up to the challenge, you’ll need to use a water taxi to get to the other side of the lake, seek permission from the sheep station owner to hike and be prepared to find your way to the top without a pathway. Ambitious and brave individuals will be rewarded with a view so perfect, it could be your desktop screensaver.
Duration: 8+ Hours
Trailhead: Wherever you make it to be when the boat drops you off