Skyline Gondola, Queenstown
Mountain areas in New Zealand generally require you to do some uphill hiking to see the best views, but luckily there is an easier option in Queenstown. Skyline Gondola, located a short walk from downtown Queenstown, takes you up a forested hill above town. From there you’ll see an amazing view over Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables Mountain Range. It’s iconic Queenstown stuff and you won’t want to miss it!
There’s something about a gondola ride (or cable car as they are more regularly known) – it’s exciting to be travelling through the air like that and they are always cruising over good views. Skyline Gondola in Queenstown is no different – the view of town and Lake Wakatipu slowly gets more panoramic as you near the top of Bob’s Peak. There isn’t a lot of variety in terms of views, and it’s quite a short ride compared to some of the others I’ve done around the world, but what awaits at the top is extra special.
Queenstown views don’t get any more iconic than the one from the viewing area at the top of Skyline Gondola. It’s the perfect mix of town, lake, peninsulas and mountains and gives you a good idea of how amazing the scenery is in these parts. You can see other great views from many places in Queenstown, but this is the most famous (and for good reason). There a few places to eat and drink at the top (we had a very enjoyable ice-cream) and it’s a relaxing spot to spend a few hours. You can also do some shopping (check out the jelly bean shop) and see some art work made from beans.
If you’re looking for a little adventure with your views you should consider doing the luge. We did three rides and it was so much fun. I got passed by heaps of people on my first run (I’m a very careful driver and it’s hard to unlearn that!) but I got up some good speed on the final two runs. The luge is easy to control and moves quickly – I see how it could be scary for some people, but you can go slowly if you need to.
The Ben Lomond Track starts at the top of Skyline Gondola. It’s the best day hike in Queenstown (and one of the best in New Zealand) and I highly recommend doing at least some of it. The summit is special (especially in winter / early spring) but if you only go as far as the saddle you’ll still see some incredible vistas.
The Tiki Trail
This steep forest track takes you from the bottom of Skyline Gondola to the top. It means you can save some money by not paying for the gondola but it’s a long way up and I’m pretty sure there are no views to speak of. Unless you’re on an extreme budget it’s worth shelling out for the gondola, especially if you’re planning on doing the Ben Lomond hike. Any chance to avoid an hour of boring uphill walking on a day hike like this should be grasped with both hands.
A trip up the Skyline Gondola will set you back $44 — add on a few luge rides and you’ll be looking at around $63. It’s certainly not the cheapest thing to do in Queenstown but it’s decent value, especially if you’re going to stay up there for a while. Opening hours are 9 am – 9 pm and there is also night luging and star gazing after dark.
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I was hosted by Skyline Gondola. All thoughts and opinions are my own.