Whether you’ve lived in New Zealand all your life, are a short term resident, or visiting on holiday you have to visit Queenstown at least once.
There is a good reason why it is known as the adventure capital of the world. Not only is there a vast array of crazy, adrenaline-filled attractions to do here, but it’s one of the best places in the whole of New Zealand with plenty of day hikes on offer.
More things to do in Queenstown
1. Queenstown Hill
- Duration: 2-3 hours
- Grade: Moderate
- Trailhead: 15 minutes walk away from the town centre on Belfast street
The name is very imaginative that’s for sure. New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) recommends 2-3 hours to complete this short walk to which I agree. I recommend taking a picnic up and basking in the sun and enjoying the views like this one.
2. Ben Lomond day hike
- Duration: 5-7 Hours
- Grade: Moderate/hard
- Trailhead: Take the skyline gondola up to Bob’s Peak or hike from the bottom of the gondola (an additional 1 hour).
The views from up there are some of the most photo-worthy in Queenstown. I am not a fast walker by any means and I managed to do it in 7 hours from my house on Fernhill, one of Queenstown’s neighbourhoods (including one hour at the top).
From the top of the mountain, you get spectacular 360 degrees of the Wakatipu Basin, Lake Wakatipu, The Remarkables mountain range, Cecil Peak and Walters Peak.
If you are adventurous and happen to be visiting Queenstown in the winter, hike up to the top for sunrise! Make sure you are wearing crampons though! You don’t want to make it to the front page of New Zealand’s herald for the wrong reasons!
3. Moke Lake Loop
- Duration: 2 Hours
- Grade: Easy/Moderate in some parts
- Trailhead: 15 minutes drive away from the town Centre towards Glenorchy and another 5 minutes on Moke Lake road.
I must have done this trek about 4 times. It’s definitely one of my faves especially now as it’s where my two good friends got engaged (with a little help from my side). Such a beautiful place with such fond memories.
The horseshoe-shaped path around the lake only takes a couple of hours to finish and rewards you with views of Ben Lomond. If there’s little wind around you might get some awesome reflections. No wonder it makes for a beloved location for astrophotography enthusiasts!
4. Bob’s Cove
- Duration 30-45 minutes
- Grade: Easy
- Trailhead: 15 minutes drive away from town centre towards Glenorchy
This is the shortest and easiest hike on my list. It only takes around half an hour to walk slowly. The path follows the shoreline of Lake Wakatipu and is perfect for a late afternoon stroll. There is even a place called picnic point so you know what you should do.
Don’t forget to take your bathing suit in the summer, because there are plenty of opportunities to jump in or go for a swim. Bear in mind though, that the water in the lake hardly ever goes above 11 degrees Celsius!
5. Lake Alta
- Duration: 1.5 return from the Remarkables car park
- Grade: Moderate
- Trailhead: 25 minutes drive from town centre towards Te Anau. Turn left onto the Remarkables ski hill road and drive all the way up until you get to the Ski Lodge.
Lake Alta, aptly translated to Lake High from Spanish, is located near the top of the Remarkables Mountain Range. From the skiing car park, it is only around 1.5 hours and is classed as advanced by the DOC.
In the summer it was relatively easy but I can imagine that it gets really hard in the winter. Wrap up warm and take waterproofs because the weather can change very quickly at this altitude.
If you’re brave enough you can go from here to the single and double cones but only if you have scrambling/mountaineering experience. I just stuck to exploring the surrounding areas, as I didn’t feel comfortable enough to summit the cones.
6. Cecil Peak day hike
- Duration: 8+ hours
- Grade: Hard
- Trailhead: Wherever you make it to be when the boat drops you off
Not many people decide to tackle that mountain by foot and instead choose to fly there by helicopter. It’s a popular place for wedding photographers, and for a good reason, as the backdrop for the photos is absolutely stunning.
Although I haven’t made it all the way to the top due to sketchy conditions, I’ve decided to stay on the ridge overnight and get a sunrise shot of Queenstown.
It was a very cold and windy night, but damn was it worth it. To get to the bottom of the mountain you will have to use a water taxi or befriend someone who has a boat and can drop you off on the other side of the lake.
Also, make sure to first ask for permission to hike. It is a private area that belongs to the owner of a sheep station built just on the other side of the mountain.
You can find out his number from the local DOC office. It’s also worth mentioning that there is no path that will lead you to the top. You will just have to make your own way up.
7. Bob’s Peak
- Duration: 2 hours
- Grade: Moderate
- Trailhead: Bottom of the skyline gondola
To get to the top of Bob’s Peak you can just choose to go with a gondola, but if you are after a thrill of getting up there with the power of your own legs, or just simply want to save money then hike up. This relatively easy hike climbs steadily through the pine forest for about an hour until you get to the skyline building on the top. The views from up here are spectacular.
If you google Queenstown half of the photos that show in the results will be photos taken from the viewing platform right in the skyline building, and the best part is that it’s free for visitors! If however, you want to get the view from the picture above you will have to work for it a bit more.
Keep going up past the luge and again through the forest for 10 minutes until you get to a clearing. This is where paragliders take off. If you are having trouble finding it, just ask somebody working either at Skyline or The Luge and they should be able to point you in the right direction
Top accommodation options in Queenstown
If you plan on visiting Queenstown in the summer, make sure to book your accommodation as far in advance as possible. Queenstown is a popular place and it tends to book out in the summer!