There’s no better way to explore an area than to journey by foot. Renowned for being the adventure capital of the world, naturally, Queenstown is home to some of the most breathtaking walks and hikes that will appeal to the avid hiker and the beginner alike. With options for all degrees of expertise, you can be assured every hike will have you immersed in the vibrance and awe-inspiring natural landscapes of the South Island.
We’ve compiled a list of our 7 favourite hikes and walks around Queenstown; be sure to check at least one of them out on your next visit to the region!
Queenstown Hill is one of the most accessible hikes in the area, located in the heart of town. Locals and visitors fall in love with its charm on a trail that is both easy and short, but incredibly rewarding. Journey along the impressively maintained trails through a lush forest of pine trees before you reach the viewpoint. At the top you’ll find a steel sculpture ‘Basket of Dreams’ made by artist Caroline Robinson. Soak in the breathtaking views of the snow-capped Remarkables mountain range, sparkling blue waters of Lake Wakatipu and vibrant greenery all around. If after this you still feel like taking on a further challenge, walk further up the hill for 15-20min to another viewpoint for an even better view of Queenstown surrounds. This hiking trail showcases some of New Zealand’s most iconic natural beauty and the impressive works of mother nature.
Duration: 2-3 hours
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
For those with a preference for a hike that’s short, easy and incredibly scenic, the Moke Lake Loop track will satisfy these needs and more. Only 15min away by car from Queenstown, the 2-3 hour journey will take you across luscious grasslands, alongside a beautiful lake and offer second to none views of the surrounding alpine ranges. The gentle inclines and boardwalks will guide you around the Moke Lake reserve.
The trail is well suited for those who want to embark on an iconic New Zealand hike that exudes beauty but won’t leave you exhausted. Suitable for all ages and abilities, great to walk or cycle all year around making it a must-stop walking trail while in Queenstown.
Duration: 2-3 hours
If you’re short on time or looking for a quick walk that still delivers on view and history, Bob’s Cove is the perfect option for you. Queenstown’s major drawcard is its pristine natural landscapes and this walk encapsulates the best the town has to offer in less than an hour, on an easy 1.5km trail along the lake shore. The alpine breeze is unmatched, and the terrain is relatively flat with the occasional incline - a perfect sample walk. Just before the end of the walk you’ll reach a lime kiln with some information about the region’s history.
Bob’s cove walk is 20 minutes from Queenstown and is on the way to Glenorchy, which is a beautiful settlement up north and is a popular destination for those visiting the area. Guided Walks New Zealand offer a half day guided walk along this track - an excellent option if you’re keen to find out a lot more about the native forest, flora and fauna as well as the local history.
Duration: 30-45 minutes
“Lake Alta”, which translates to “High Lake” in Spanish offers an insight into what the highlight of the trail entails. It’s located within the iconic Remarkables mountain ranges and the hiking trail starts at the ski-field carpark. It is recommended to drive or be dropped off at the top parking area. From the carpark you will see a sign “public walking access” – this is the beginning of the Lake Alta hiking trail. The hike is a short and sweet at 1 and a half hours, although it’s reasonably challenging. The effort is rewarded however, as you’re greeted with the sight of Lake Alta’s glacial blue waters; a hidden gem nestled between the impressive peaks of the Remarkables range. Don’t forget to take some warm and windproof clothes no matter how hot the day might seem – the top of the mountains can be very unpredictable and even in the summer the lake happens to be frozen at times. For unique way to experience Lake Alta, Guided Walks New Zealand take a guided snowshoe trip here during the winter, where guests get to walk on the frozen lake.
‘Lord of the Rings’ fans rejoice; behind Lake Alta you will find single and double cone peak. This location features part of the set from the first ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies – another reason to add the infamous Lake Alta to your hiking list when in Queenstown.
Duration: 2 hours
Nestled between Queenstown and Frankton and connected by the beautiful Lake Wakatipu is where you will find the Frankton Arm Walkway. This walk is a short 5-minute drive from Queenstown and offers breathtaking views of the Remarkables and the Frankton Peninsula. The walk is flat and wide, which means that you can stroll or cycle comfortably, soak in the views and breathe in fresh mountain air. Frankton walkway is the ideal walking trail for those of all ages and abilities due to its accessibility and amenities on the way - should be a part of every visitor’s introductory walks when in Queenstown.
Duration: 3 hours
The Ben Lomond trail is a must when you’re visiting Queenstown – it is renowned for being the best full day hike in town from locals and visitors alike. You are in for a memorable New Zealand hiking experience that packs a challenge and offers extraordinary scenery from base to peak. The view offers the best of both worlds and showcases Queenstown’s beautiful natural landscape with 360-degree panoramic views of the Wakatipu basin, Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables mountain range, Cecil peak and Walters peak. All contrasted with the view of the bustling town below – showcasing Queenstown’s diversity and beauty.
Exploring the Ben Lomond trail isn’t limited to one experience, you can either take a gondola ride or walk up to the start of the hike. From that point, you can decide whether you want to hike to the saddle or to the peak. For those seeking a shorter hike, reaching the saddle will offer breathtaking views at 1,326m height and is a 3-4 hour return hike from the bottom of the gondola. If you’re a thrill seeker who wants the full experience and sense of accomplishment that can only be experienced on the mountain’s peak at 1,748m height, the hike is 6-8 hours and is well worth the journey. Make sure to have some warm clothes with you all year round as you’ll be at higher elevation and lower temperatures. If you decide to do the walk in the winter, you will need to be experienced in using appropriate alpine equipment such as crampons and an ice axe.
Duration: 6-8 hours (Peak), 3-4 hours (Saddle)
If you’re after a more advanced alpine trek, Routeburn track provides one of the best multi- day hikes in New Zealand. The track is world-famous for a reason; the scenery is so varied and incredible that it rivals some of the best-known hikes on earth. If you’re keen for a taste of this iconic track, but don’t have multiple days up your sleeve, try a guided day walk option with Guided Walks New Zealand. The Guided Walks team curate a unique, interactive and informative day on the track where you’ll experience the highlights of the Routeburn, learning about native fauna and flora as well as the land’s unique history and culture. The distance of the day hike is between 13 to 18 km return, depending on your desire to go the extra 5kms for additional viewpoints along the way. Find out more about guided tours in New Zealand and Routeburn track day walk here.
Duration: 8-10 hours