There are so many Queenstown hikes to choose from, so it’s lucky you stumbled on this post! I’ll help you choose the perfect hike in Queenstown, from the easy (and very scenic) walks in Glenorchy and Paradise to the demanding day hike up to the summit of Ben Lomond. The great thing about hiking in Queenstown (and near Queenstown) is the fact there are so many options, both in what you’ll see and the difficulty level of the tracks. I’ll start this list off easy and the walks will gradually get harder!
This is the perfect Queenstown hike to do if you don’t want to stray far from town. You’ll get some excellent views of Queenstown Bay and if you go right around the peninsula, you’ll see the Remarkables in all their glory.
Glenorchy Walkway is mostly flat and is suitable for pretty much every level of fitness. The scenery is special though – I think it’s the best short walk in the Queenstown area! You’ll see Glenorchy Lagoon, and if you visit on a clear, still day you’ll get some incredible reflections. We did this walk in spring and there was still heaps of snow on the mountains.
READ MORE: 8 Fun Things to Do in Glenorchy
There’s a longer hike at Bob’s Cove, but the best part of the track is the viewpoint close to the start of the track. From there you can see over Lake Wakatipu and its surrounding mountains as well as the lush forest and clear blue water of Bob’s Cove. The beach there is also great if you’ve looking for somewhere to swim.
Another excellent short hike close to Queenstown, this track in Paradise (I’m still not sure if the track actually has a name or not) is one you won’t want to miss if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan. The scenery around Paradise stood in for Isengard in the films and the track (which starts at the old Paradise Homestead) is the perfect way to see it. We had the entire track to ourselves when we did it and the scenery is incredible for such an easy walk (it’ll take around an hour / 90 minutes and there isn’t much uphill walking involved).
Arrowtown, around 30 minutes from Queenstown, is one of the most picturesque old towns in New Zealand and is worth a quick look whether you’re hiking or not. If you want to get into the hills above town, Tobins Track is a good option. You get some stunning views over Arrowtown, with Lake Hayes and Lake Wakatipu emerging in the distance. It’s pretty much straight uphill but it shouldn’t take you much more than an hour.
It takes a couple of hours to hike around Moke Lake and the track is mostly flat. It’s an easy enough hike and the views are great, especially in winter when there should still be some snow around. I’ve also heard there’s a viewpoint you can walk to which gives you a better view of the lake from above – let me know if you’ve done it!
The scenic drive up to the Remarkables Ski Area is worth the trip, but once you’re at the top you can walk up to Lake Alta, a picturesque alpine lake. It’s only possible in the warmer months, so plan accordingly. It’s uphill most of the way but it shouldn’t take too long. There’s a far longer hike in this area which meets up with the Wye Creek Track — I’ll be writing about that one soon hopefully.
The track around Lake Hayes is spectacular on a fine day, especially in winter. The snow-covered hills surrounding the lake are reflected perfectly in the calm water – the photo below is one of my favourites from all my trips to Queenstown. You can also walk a shorter section if you don’t have time to do the full 2-3-hour loop.
Mount Crichton Loop Track
I’d heard this was a good track to do with kids, but if I’d attempted it when I was a youngster I would have struggled. I was pretty unfit though. The Mount Crichton Loop Track takes you up a big hill to an old stone hut and a waterfall, with some awesome views on offer. It’s an easy track but there are some big uphill sections.
If you want to see some of the best scenery around Queenstown and don’t want to do a full day hike, the Queenstown Hill Track is the perfect option. It should take less than two hours and the views are similar to what you’ll see in the lower parts of the Ben Lomond Track. It’s a stunning short walk, but it does get somewhat overshadowed by the Ben Lomond Track, which is by far the most impressive of this list of Queenstown hikes.
This day walk near Glenorchy branches off from the Routeburn Track, taking you over Sugarloaf Pass for some great views. This is a good walk for people looking for a quiet hiking experience as not many people seem to do it. It gets a bit confusing at the top, and there’s a summit that we missed that’s apparently really good, but I highly recommend giving it a go.
Ben Lomond Track
By far the best hike in Queenstown (and in my opinion one of the best day hikes in New Zealand), the Ben Lomond Track is the perfect option for people wanting to see the best of what this area has offer. The scenery is amazing and there’s heaps of variety, from the lower levels of the track where you’ll see Lake Wakatipu slowly spread out to the summit where you’ll be surrounded by mountains. I did it in winter and it was pretty hard due to all the snow and ice, but that same snow and ice made for some awesome photos. It won’t quite have the same visual impact in the middle of summer, but it’d be a great hike at any time of year.
The Routeburn Track is generally walked in three days and is one of New Zealand’s most iconic Great Walks. You have to book quite far in advance, but if you manage to snag a spot, and the weather plays its part, it’s one of the best hiking experiences you could have anywhere in the world. You’ll see giant peaks, waterfalls, pristine forests and so much more. You could also do part of it as a day walk. From the Queenstown side you could walk as far as Routeburn Falls and back — there are some great views on this part of the track and it’s definitely one of the best day walks in Queenstown.
Other Queenstown Hikes
There are heaps of other hikes in and around Queenstown, from short trails in town (Tiki Trail, Frankton Arm Walkway) to lots of other walks in and around Glenorchy and Arrowtown. You could spend weeks in this area and not see everything — we’re still making our way through them all!
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