If you’re tired of paying through the nose for all the high adrenaline activities that leave you feeling light in the head and the pocket, why not try experiencing New Zealand the cheap and natural way by trekking or hiking around Queenstown. If you want some time to yourself, some deep soulful conversation with a friend or if you just need to clear your head of the indulgences of the night before, then get out and try these amazing Queenstown walks.
The only expense that you could incur is the transportation to the beginning of the tracks.
Things to consider before going trekking or hiking
Alpine weather can change rapidly and get very cold at any time of year. Always try and prepare for bad conditions. Take good walking shoes, warm clothing and make sure you have enough water. Be prepared to change your plans if necessary. You can obtain the latest weather information from the nearest DOC visitor centre, alternatively visit www.metservice.co.nz or www.avalanche.net.nz
Best Queenstown Walks
1. Mt Crichton Loop track
Sometimes also known as the Sam Summers Hermit Hut Track, this is a relatively easy going hike of about 2/3 hours. The track includes some stunning views through alpine forest to mountain peaks, rivers and waterfall. Towards the end of the loop you’ll come across Sam Summers actual hermit hut, which has been preserved in perfect condition with a working fireplace and all. It’s also possible to stay in the hut. Just beyond the hut there is a track that leads to 50 meter gorge that runs right the way through a mountain to the river on the other side.
Length: 2-4 hrs
Getting there: Situated on the Queenstown – Glenorchy road about 10 minutes from the town centre.
2. Queenstown Hill
Queenstown Hill is about a 500 metre climb through pine forest with a beautiful view once at the top of the town, lake and Remarkable’s mountain ranges. This is a good walk to do on your own on a lazy Sunday whether it’s rain or sunshine. The Queenstown Hill walk is about a 3 hour return trip from the town centre.
Length: 3 hrs
Getting there: Via Belfast St
3. Arrowtown Walks
There are heaps of walks in and around Arrowtown near Queenstown. The anniversary trail is recommended for a super chilled afternoon stroll. The Tobins track, a moderate steady climb on to the crown terrace has some excellent views of the Wakatipu basin and Lake Hayes. The Tobins track should only take you about 1.5 hours up and back with time to take in the view. With all the tracks it’s much better on a clearer day.
Length: from 20 mins to 6 hrs
Getting there: about a 20 minute drive from Queenstown
4. Frankton Arm Walkway
The Frankton Arm walkway provides a pleasant stroll along the lakeside between Queenstown and Frankton. Amazing views of the Remarkables ranges, Cecil Peak and the Kelvin peninsula are on offer and you can also happily cycle on the track.
Length: around 3 hrs at a very leisurely pace
Getting there: from Park Street
5. The Invincible Mine Track
It’s quite a gruelling hike up a zig zagging path to get to the top, but when you finally get there, the jaw-dropping panoramic views are mind blowing. There are also some quite interesting ruins of the old gold mine. If you carry on a little further you can actually find the entrance to the mines itself. (Please note entry to the mine is not recommended, and you do so at your own risk).
Length: 3 – 4 hrs
Getting there: This track is situated about 45 minutes out of Queenstown, past Glenorchy, and half way to Paradise on an un-sealed road.
6. Tiki Trail
Tagging onto the Ben Lomond walk this is the first part of the walk which is about 1 hour from bottom to the top. Instead of carrying on to Ben Lomond, halfway up you can take a different track which leads to the top of the Skyline complex. This walk is gradually steep and covered in the forest but it will save you money in gondola costs.
Length: 1 hr to 1hr 30 mins
Getting there: By the gondola station at the end of Brecon St
7. Ben Lomond Track
This one is the big boy walk in Queenstown. The first hour is under the trees so you can still find shelter if need be from the rain. After that it’s all out in the open and a hard graft to the summit. You can opt to finish at the saddle instead which cuts off about an hour and a half of the walk. From the saddle to the summit it’s very steep but worth it once you get to the top.
Be sure to take your camera for the amazing views and a bit of lunch as it’s a bit of a slog. Always remember to tell someone when you leave so they know to look for you if you are not back in time.
This demanding climb offers spectacular panoramic views of Queenstown. On clear days Mounts Earnslaw/ Pikirakatahi and Aspiring/Tititea can be seen from the summit (1748 metres).
Length: Ben Lomond Saddle (3-4 hrs) or Ben Lomond Summit (6-8 hrs)
Getting there: The Ben Lomond Track can be accessed via two routes, one access point is at the one mile carpark via Fernhill and the other at the bottom of the Tiki Trail.
8. Moke Lake Loop Track
This is a very easy going hike with virtually no inclines. The whole loop around Moke Lake should take you 1.5 hrs max. It’s a very chilled little trek, but again the scenery is to die for. Perfect if you want to take a picnic on a summers afternoon, and chow down at the tip of the peninsula.
Length: around 1.5 hrs
Getting there: You’ll find the access road again on the Queenstown to Glenorchy road situated before Wilsons Bay.
9. Routeburn Track
Heading a bit further away from Queenstown and located within Mt Aspiring National Park and Fiordlands National Park is the Routeburn Track. The Routeburn Track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks and can take up to 3 days if you plan on doing the full walk. The track is surrounded by mountains that are so high that they’re permanently snow-capped. Unfortunately, there are seasonal restrictions placed on the track due to high-demand and its environmental protection protocols so you do need to book a place in The Great Walks season (October to April).
If you don’t have the time, or the inclination, to do the full walk then there are shorter walks you can do:
- Routeburn Nature Walk (40 mins)
- Lake Howden Track (3 hrs)
- Key Summit Track (3 hrs)
- Earland Falls Track (6 hrs)
Length: from 40 mins to 3 days!
Getting there: Either via the Routeburn Shelter (near Glenorchy and 68 km from Queenstown). Or via The Divide Shelter (on the Milford Road, 85 km from Te Anau).
10. Hollyford Track
Located in the World Heritage listed, Fiordland National Park, is this absolute gem of a trail. The Hollyford Track is almost entirely populated by trekkers on guided tours as it requires multiple days on the mountain to complete. However, if you’re particularly advanced or a seasoned camper and/or survivalist, then this is the track for you.
Length: 3 days
Getting there: Transport is available from Queenstown, or drive and park at the start of the track.
Whether you’re an advanced trekker or just enjoy the occasional hike, there are Queenstown walks to suit you.