Queenstown

Hiking the Lake Alta Track, Queenstown

The Lake Alta Track takes you above the Remarkables Ski Area to a picturesque alpine lake. It’s mostly uphill but is easy enough and the views are incredible. This is one of the best short hikes in Queenstown, but you’ll have to time your visit right as it can’t be done in winter. Keep reading for everything you need to know about hiking the Lake Alta Track!

Getting There

The Lake Alta Track starts just behind the main buildings at the Remarkables Ski Area. It’s an incredibly windy 13 km road to get there, but the views make it more than worth it. In fact, during the ski season we drove all the way up and then straight back down – definitely worth it when there is so much snow around.

In summer it’s still a great drive. You’ll have to pay $10 (card only) for the honour though, which is a fairly new development. There are heaps of places to pull over and enjoy the views on the way up – you’ll see right over Lake Wakatipu, Lake Hayes, the Kawerau Gorge and parts of Queenstown.

Hiking the Lake Alta Track

From the car park just below the main buildings area, you’ll see little orange “hiker” signs which point you in the right direction. The first part of the track is directly uphill and you’ll get some nice views back towards Queenstown.

You’ll soon come to a stream and from there the track gets a little rougher as it climbs towards Lake Alta. Behind you, you’ll see back down towards Queenstown / Lake Hayes and the surrounding mountains.

The orange signs eventually give way to yellow poles, and after a bit of uphill hiking you’ll come to a viewpoint above Lake Alta.

From there you can head down to the shores of the lake, where the bright colours start to reveal themselves. The water is incredibly clear and is surrounded by rocky mountains. I’d imagine it’d be amazing in winter with snow everywhere but it’s a lot more difficult to access in the cooler months.

We climbed a small hill above the lake for a different angle, and you can also walk around the other edge for quite a distance. This area also attracts climbers who are enticed by “Single Cone”, a peak overlooking Lake Alta. From there it’s back down the same way to the car park.

Lake Alta FAQS

  • How long does it take? The Lake Alta Track took us around 90 minutes to hike, although around 30 minutes of that was spent at the lake itself. You could do it much quicker if you were in a rush.
  • Is it hard? It’s pretty much uphill the whole way from the car park but it’s not excessively steep. It’s hard enough though and the track is rough in parts – it’s best to wear decent hiking boots.

  • When can you do it? The Lake Alta Track is best done in the summer months, but apparently you can do it in winter if you have the right gear. Summer is best though!

Are you planning a trip to New Zealand? Get some inspiration by reading our South Island itinerary!

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.

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