If you are 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 trekking and hiking tracks that are within spitting distance of Queenstowns town centre.
The only expense that you could possibly incur is the transportation to the beginning of the tracks, and if you don’t have a car, you could easily hitch the distance (be sensible, hitching can be dangerous anywhere!), or catch a cab for very little.
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 warm clothing and make sure you have enough water, and be prepared to change your hiking 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
Hiking Track 1 – Sam Summers Hermit Hut
This is a relatively easy going hike of about 2/3 hours, situated on the Queenstown-Glenorchy road about 10 minutes from the town centre. The track includes some stunning views through alpine forest to mountain peaks. Towards the end of the loop you will come across Sam Summers actual hermit hut, which has been preserved in perfect condition, with a working fire place and all. It is 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.
Hiking Track 2 – Queenstown Hill
This hill is about a 500 metre climb through pine forest and a beautiful view once at the top of the town, lake and remarkables mountain ranges. If you come across any wild pine seedling be sure to pull it out if you can but ensure you identify it correctly and it’s not a native plant. 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.
View of Lake Wakatipu from the top of Queenstown Hill
Hiking Track 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, or the Tobins track, a moderate steady climb on to the crown terrace, with some excellent views of the Wakatipu basin, and Lake Hayes. The Tobins track should only take you about 1.5 hours up and back, and with all the tracks is much better on a clearer day.
Hiking Track 4 – Frankton Hill
The Frankton Hill walk 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 cycle with the family on the track. This walk will take around 3 hours.
Hiking Track 5 – The Invincible Mines Trek
This track is situated about 45 minutes out of Queenstown, past Glenorchy, and half way to Paradise on an un-sealed road. There are a couple of fords breaching the road on the way up, but most vehicles will be able to cross them. 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, and 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). The whole trek should take roughly 2/3 hours.
Hiking Track 6 – Ben Lomond Track
This track is the big boy walk in Queenstown. 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 Skyline track. The first hour is under the trees in the forest and you can still find shelter if need be from the mucky 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 is very steep but amazing once you get to the top. Be sure to take your camera for the amazing views and a bit of lunch as it is a bit of a slog and always remember to tell someone when you leave so they know to look for you if you are not back in time.
The demanding climb offers spectacular panoramic views of Queenstown and on clear days Mounts Earnslaw/ Pikirakatahi and Aspiring/Tititea can be seen from the summit (1748 metres).
Ben Lomond – almost at the top
Hiking Track 7 – Skyline Walk
Tagging onto the Ben Lomond walk this is the first part of the walk which is about 1 hour from bottom to the top, but 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 about $29.00 in gondola costs. This walk takes around 1 hour 30 minute from start to finish, starting from the bottom of Skyline.
Hiking Track 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. You’ll find the access road again on the Queenstown to Glenorchy road situated before Wilsons Bay. It is 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 in the centre of the lake.
Whether you are an advanced trekker or enjoy the occasional hike and fresh air there is a trekking or a hiking track in and around Queenstown to suit every individual.