It is only natural that one of the most dazzling cities in the country is home to some of our most beautiful walks.
A stroll along the lake and through Queenstown Gardens – where established trees frame views of clear-water bays and distant mountain peaks – is a must, but don’t stop there. Those who explore further on two feet find themselves immersed in a land of highlands and alpine wonders that almost seems too good to be true.
Below is a list of some of the most acclaimed. Whether you fancy a serene stroll around a mirror-like lagoon, a challenging mountain hike, or a world-famous multi-day hike, Queenstown has you covered. Just a few words of caution:
* How to spend a mindful vacation in Queenstown
* Queenstown is a dream destination for cycling
* A guide to Tititea / Mount Aspiring National Park
Queenstown Hill Time Walk
You don’t have to be a modern-day Sir Edmund Hillary in the making to enjoy epic views of the Queenstown mountains – just walk up the hill behind the city center.
The 500-meter climb to the top of Te Tapu-nui (a mountain of intense sacredness) may elicit a few complaints from your calves, but the 360-degree views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables are, well, remarkable.
Enticing fragments of these views through the pines on the way up serve as a motivation to keep going and really open up when you get to the Basket of Dreams sculpture. Many descend to the other side of the hill, but push all the way to the top and you will have all of Queenstown and its beautiful surroundings at your feet. Start the walk at Belfast Terrace and allow around three hours.
Ben Lomond track
Have you conquered Queenstown Hill and are ready for the next level of climbing? This six to eight hour, 7 mile round trip hike might be the perfect fit. Starting amid the Douglas firs of the Tiki Trail, you’ll meander under ziplines to the top of the gondola, where you can catch your breath at the viewpoint and grab a bite to eat before ascending into an Alpine wonderland.
The climb to 1,326 meters from Ben Lomond Saddle is a bit strenuous, but the even more incredible view of the lake and mountain should give the strength to continue The terrain becomes even steeper and more rugged from here, but reaching the 1748 meters The summit rewards you with a 360 degree view of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the mountains which look like something out of Tourism New Zealand’s 100% Pure countryside.
A few words of warning: The weather in the area is extremely variable all year round. Hypothermia is a risk even in summer, so be sure to dress appropriately. If you are trying the trail in winter, you will need to be prepared to use alpine hiking gear such as an ice ax and crampons. Access to the Ben Lomond Trail via the Tiki Trail is currently closed.
With snow-capped peaks projecting fuzzy reflections into a lagoon fringed with pink and purple lupines in December, this 3.2 mile walk offers a great reward for very little effort.
Great for kids and those who like a gentle stroll with great photo opportunities, the driveway starts just to the right of each visitor’s bright red shed and their dog has their photo taken next door.
Keep your eyes peeled for damselflies and dragonflies as you follow the walks above the wetlands, which are also home to native birds such as the poaka (stilt), tōrea (South Island oystercatcher), the matuku (Australian bittern) and the kuruwhengu (New Zealand digger). And don’t forget to look up: you might spot a kārearea (New Zealand hawk) spinning or diving in search of prey.
Gibbston River Trail
Walking and wine tasting is a winning combo on this 11 km hiking and biking trail along the super blue Kawarau River. It’s also a history lesson on the legs, telling the stories of 19th century gold mining on the Gibbston Flats.
Part of the Queenstown Trail ‘Great Ride’ network, the river trail begins at the Kawarau Suspension Bridge, where you can watch daredevils plunge head first towards the raging river before making their way through the ‘valley. vineyards”.
Gibbston Valley Winery Restaurant, Gibbston Tavern, Peregrine Winery and Cargo Brewery are among the many options for refreshment breaks, or you can grab a picnic basket from Gibbston Valley Cheese. The trail ends at Gibbston Back Road, where you can rehydrate at Mt Rosa Wines or Brennan Wines.
If you still have some energy to burn, go up Gibbston Back Road until it meets Coal Pit Road, which will bring you back to Gibbston Tavern. If you’re having too much fun on your last refreshment break to return on foot or by bike, you can arrange a shuttle to take you back to Queenstown.
Among – if not the – greatest of great hikes, this 20-mile, multi-day hike is on the list of best kiwi hikers. And no wonder. A high-level mountain route traversing mirror-like tarns, waterfalls, ice-carved valleys, moss-covered groves that resemble a Grimm’s tale, and awe-inspiring views of the surrounding mountain ranges, it’s is a walk that continues to give. Generously.
Most people take three days to walk the trail, spending the night at the Routeburn Falls and Lake Mackenzie huts. The Grandes Balades season (November to April) is the best time to tackle this, but you will need to book shelters or campsites online well in advance. If you’d rather have your heavy equipment hauled for you and stay in private lodges with hot showers and hearty meals, you can join a guided tour, but expect to pay extra for this privilege.
You can start the walk at Routeburn Hut, 25 km from Glenorchy, or at Divide Hut, 85 km from Te Anau. From the end of Routeburn Hut you will follow the Route Burn River up to Bridal Veil Waterfall, continuing along the top of the gorge to the Hut and Routeburn Flats Campground. From there the trail climbs through the beech forest to Routeburn Falls and its eponymous hut and campsite, offering exhilarating glimpses of the Humboldt Mountains.
On the second day, most hikers climb through the valley to the highest point on the trail, Harris Saddle / Tarahaka Whakatipu, 1255 meters, via Lake Harris surrounded by mountains. On a clear day, the 1.5 to 2 hour detour to Conical Hill is well worth the extra breath – you can see all the way to Martins Bay on the west coast. The descent to Lost world-like Lake Mackenzie offers gentle relief, and a dip in its mirror waters is simply exhilarating.
The final 12 km stretch includes the awe-inspiring Earland Falls and Lake Howden, soon after, a detour to Key Summit promises awe-inspiring views of the Darran Mountains and the Hollyford Valley. Back on the main trail, it’s a gradual descent through silver beech forest to The Divide which, at 532 meters, is the lowest passage in the Southern Alps.
Only attempt hiking outside of the Grandes Randonnée season (May to November) if you are an experienced alpine hiker with suitable equipment such as a helmet, ice ax and crampons. The Department of Conservation does not manage hazards along the trail, such as avalanches and flooding, at this time.
Stay Safe: New Zealand is currently subject to restrictions related to Covid-19. Follow the instructions on covid19.govt.nz.