Join Queenstown local, Bailey, as she shares the best day hikes in Queenstown. From familiar favourites to hidden gems, these are the hikes you don’t want to miss whilst visiting the adventure capital of New Zealand.
Queenstown is one of the best places to visit in New Zealand if you love the outdoors. Although Queenstown itself is a vibrant town filled with bars and restaurants, the number one reason people come is to get out amongst nature and enjoy the mountains, lakes and breathtaking scenery.
Without doubt, the best way to explore these beautiful landscapes is via the many hiking trails in the area.
On them, you can discover secluded bays, summit mountain peaks, visit alpine lakes and even visit some famous Lord of the Rings film locations.
Yep, that’s right, the best hikes in Queenstown really have it all!
But with so many hiking trails to choose from, it can be hard to know exactly where to start. If you have limited time, you’ll want to do only the absolute best day hikes in Queenstown.
Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered!
I myself have hiked almost every trail in Queenstown and think there are clear winners and losers when it comes to the top best day hikes.
That’s why I’ve chosen the best five local hikes that offer the most breathtaking and diverse landscapes.
These are the best hikes in Queenstown!
The Most Fantastic Day Hikes Queenstown Has on Offer
1. Ben Lomond Track
Ben Lomond is one of the most well-known mountain peaks in the Southern Lakes region. Towering above Queenstown, Ben Lomond is the perfect vantage point to enjoy 360-degree views of the Lakes District and the surrounding Southern Alps.
To reach the summit you’ll need to hike Ben Lomond Track.
This gruelling hike takes over 7 hours (return) from Queenstown and gains almost 1,500 meters in elevation over only 7 kilometres.
Hiking Ben Lomond is not for the faint-hearted.
However, for those who manage to summit this colossal mountain, you’ll be welcomed with some of the best views in Queenstown!
Ben Lomond Track starts in Queenstown (at a few different places) with the most popular and recommended being at the bottom of the Queenstown gondola on Brecon Street.
From there you can either take the gondola up to shorten the walk or begin hiking on the Tiki Trail. Both the gondola and Tiki Trail finish at Bob’s Peak which is where Ben Lomond Track officially starts.
From Bob’s Peak, it takes about an hour or so to reach the saddle and for many, this is as far as they’ll go.
But for the few crazy ones, here begins the hard climb to the summit.
It’s steep, relentless, and will have you wishing you’d done an easier hike in Queenstown. But once you reach the summit, you’ll be blown away by the views!
Even if you don’t make it to the summit, hiking Ben Lomond is a must.
The views from the saddle are just breathtaking and even the most inexperienced can make it that far (especially if you use the gondola to get to Bob’s Peak first.)
In fact, if you use the gondola, it’s only around 4 hours return to the saddle and back!
Ben Lomond Track is one of, if not the best day hike in Queenstown, so lace up your boots and go!
If you consider yourself a hiker and only have time for one day hike in Queenstown then Ben Lomond Summit is my go-to recommendation.
2. Queenstown Hill – One of the Best Day Hikes Queenstown Has!
Next up is arguably the most popular hiking trail in Queenstown.
Queenstown Hill Track takes visitors high above Queenstown via a very well-maintained trail to the summit of Queenstown Hill.
Unlike Ben Lomond summit, you won’t need to hike for an entire day to reach the summit and for that reason, Queenstown Hill is much more accessible to the average person and even families with kids.
With that said, the trail is steep – if you plan on walking from Queenstown’s town centre it’s a 600-metre elevation gain.
To shorten the hike, you can try to get a parking spot at the trailhead on Belfast Terrace, however, there are only a couple of parking spaces so it’s difficult. From this trailhead, it’s only a 2.5 kilometre walk each way that takes around 2 hours return.
The trail up begins at a steady incline but quickly becomes steeper as you climb. Although steep, the trail is wide so there plenty of room to take it slow and let others pass.
Once you breach the tree-line you’ll reach the Basket of Dreams. This large metal sculpture is said to inspire dreaming. You can even sit in it to enjoy the views!
From there, you can either turn back (after spending a long time admiring the views) or continue on to the summit of Queenstown Hill. It’s only another 20 minutes or so to the summit so I highly recommend it.
From the top, you get magnificent views of The Remarkables, Ben Lomond, Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.
The trail used to go further, but the owner of the land past the summit has forbidden entry without prior approval. Regardless, this hike is 100% worth the trip up!
If you’re looking for an achievable (but amazing) trail, Queenstown Hill is a great option. It’s especially great for those short on time, a little under-prepared or for those travelling with kids.
Related: Queenstown activities suited to families.
3. Lake Alta Track
The two hikes mentioned above are two of the most well-known in Queenstown, but now it’s time to expose a few hidden gems!
Lake Alta Track is one of the best yet it remains well off-the-beaten-path. To be honest, I’m not sure as to why?
Seriously, Lake Alta is a beautiful hike to a remote alpine lake and the best part? It’s only 3.5 kilometres return!
Another thing I love about Lake Alta is its location. The hike to the lake actually starts from The Remarkables Ski Field and to get there you’ll need to drive up Remarkables Ski Field Access Road – which in itself is one of the most beautiful scenic drives you can do in Queenstown.
The trail itself isn’t flat, and any climb up to an alpine lake will require some effort, but at only 1.75 kilometres each way it’s actually a relatively easy hike that takes around 1.5 hours to complete.
The trail can be a little tricky to find if you’re hiking in early spring as snow covers most of the area (it is a ski field after all) but it’s still manageable.
Once you reach the lake, take a look around – you’ll actually find yourself standing at the entrance to the Mines of Moria from the Lord of the Rings! Although it’s a little hard to see without all the special effects, it’s still neat to visit.
Afterwards, you can actually hike up further to the saddle just above Lake Alta should you choose. From the top, the views are stunning, but be warned, it’s a bit of a scramble.
Overall, this is an epic day hike in Queenstown that, for some reason, remains off the typical Queenstown hikes bucket list!
Related: Adventure activities in Queenstown.
4. Bob’s Cove Track
The easiest hike on this list is the short walk on Bob’s Cove Track up to Picnic Point. This beautiful hiking trail takes only 30 minutes to complete but rewards visitors with stunning views of Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables Mountain Range, and the colourful Bob’s Cove.
After a 15-minute drive outside of Queenstown along the Glenorchy-Queenstown Road, you’ll find the start of the track at the beach area in Bob’s Cove. The trail quickly leads out onto the peninsula before heading up to Picnic Point via a steep but short trail.
At Picnic Point you can sit back, relax and maybe even have a picnic while enjoying the epic view!
Afterward, the trail descends to the other side of Picnic Point before looping back to the parking lot.
You can choose to make Bob’s Cove Track longer by joining it with the Bob’s Cove Nature Walk. This walk heads over to the Twelve Mile Delta Campground, but you’ll need to return via the same trail.
All up, it’ll take around 2 to 3 hours to finish, should you choose the longer trail.
Since Bob’s Cove Track is so short (remember it’s only 30 minutes long), it’s a great addition to any day trip to Glenorchy. Plus, it’s one of the most unique day hikes in Queenstown offering views of the stunning Bob’s Cove.
5. Secret Moke Lake Viewpoint
The last day hike in Queenstown that I absolutely love is the Secret Moke Lake Viewpoint.
This epic trail is easily the most off-the-beaten-path trail in Queenstown, and as the name suggests, it’s actually a ‘secret’!
Just kidding – it actually got that name because it’s not an ‘official’ trail but rather more of a scramble to a viewpoint that’s actually really hard to find!
The hike starts from the Moke Lake Campground at Moke Lake and requires a sharp eye and some research to find the trail.
Once you do spot the ‘trail’, it’s a scramble to the top that for some may be a little daunting.
By no means is the Secret Moke Lake Viewpoint a hike for children or those without experience.
The hike up takes only 30 to 45 minutes and once there you have the ultimate view over Moke Lake.
I personally love heading up there for sunset. At that time Moke Lake is dead quiet and you’ll be able to enjoy a slice of paradise all to yourself!
It’s Time to Hit the Trails in Queenstown!
There are lots of spectacular day hikes in Queenstown but these top five really are my favourites.
They all range in difficulty and length and visit a wide range of landscapes around Queenstown.
Some are well known and others are local secrets, but regardless, they’re all trails that visitors to Queenstown can hike and enjoy!
Interested in Other South Island Walks?
- Our favourite Queenstown hikes
- Tramp Mount Alfred (Glenorchy)
- Walk to Lake Alta (Queenstown)
- Wonderful Wānaka walks
- The best day walks in Christchurch
- A first-timer’s guide to the Milford Track
- Worthwhile Nelson hiking trails.
Guest Post: Bailey is a Canadian-born travel blogger who traveled the world with her partner Daniel for years before moving to Queenstown to settle down. She now documents her travels in Queenstown and the surrounding area in her blog, My Queenstown Diary!