The Ben Lomond track is one of the most popular alpine hikes near Queenstown on the South Island of New Zealand. Here’s a complete guide to the Ben Lomond track for those looking to summit Ben Lomond for arguably the best mountain views in Queenstown!
I’m sure most hikers would agree when I say that the Ben Lomond hike in Queenstown is by far the best day hike to be had in New Zealand’s adventure capital.
In Queenstown, there’s certainly no shortage of adrenaline activities including white water rafting, bungy jumping, paragliding, and canyoning. But, those looking for a cheaper thrill can still get a vertigo hit by hitting the Ben Lomond track above the Gondola for a quick but epic mountain summit!
In this hiking guide, I’ll detail how to reach the Ben Lomond peak from one of the most popular hiking tracks: The Tiki Trail to the Skyline Gondolda then onto to the Ben Lomond track to the summit.
Everything You Need to Know about the Ben Lomond Hike in Queenstown
Hiking the Ben Lomond track is not only voted one of the best hikes, but also one of the best things to do in Queenstown. The mountain itself is named after the famous Ben Lomond mountain in Scotland. The native Maori name is Te-taumata-o-Hakitekura.
The Ben Lomond peak is blocked by the Skyline hill in town, so you won’t see it from the main strip. Rest assured, it’s one of the highest trekking peaks in the area, and you’ll have a great vantage point of the summit from behind the Skyline Gondola or from Queenstown Hill.
How High is Ben Lomond Queenstown?
The Ben Lomond peak elevation is 1748 M above sea level. Hikers will start from the base of the Gondola at around 340M, which means you’ll be up for over 1400M of elevation gain in a single hike.
Track Length and Difficulty
From town to the summit, you can expect to walk around 18KM for the return trip. Usually, this takes between 5-7 hours.
The Ben Lomond hike is considered to be a fairly strenuous hike, not due to the distance but more due to the high amount of elevation gain in a single day. In saying that, there is no technical climbing or even scrambling involved. As long as you are fit and you are prepared for a long incline slog, then the Ben Lomond track shouldn’t be a problem for you.
Ben Lomond New Zealand Track Map
Below you can find a track map for the Ben Lomond Queenstown hike shared from the official DOC website. Note that access to the Ben Lomond track from the One Mile Creek Track is closed.
This means that your best bet is to follow the Tiki Trail to the Skyline Gondola and then onto the Ben Lomond track from there. (Full details below).
Ben Lomond GPX Map and Route
Here is a GPX file which I recorded on my Garmin watch during my walk up to Ben Lomond. You can download the GPX file and upload it to your watch or phone by clicking the link under the map. However, you really won’t need to as navigation is quite easy. Instead, this map might just be better served as a better understanding of what to expect on the hike.
GPX File: Download
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Read about my unsupported solo-cycle in New Zealand’s South Island.
Hiking and Trail Guide
Since access to the Ben Lomond track from the One Mile Creek track has been closed, you have two options to reach the Ben Lomond summit:
Option 1: Tiki Trail to the Skyline Gondola to the Ben Lomond Track
This option is the best if you want a full-day hike straight from town. This is the full Ben Lomond hike from Queenstown.
Option 2 (lazy option): Take the Gondola to the Skyline and Start at the Ben Lomond track
This is the lazier option. You’ll cut out about 1 hour and roughly 400 M of elevation gain by taking the Gondola up to the Skyline for $39. From here, you’ll continue on and meet up at the Ben Lomond Track.
Ben Lomond Trailhead: The Tiki Trail
Whether you’re choosing to walk up the Tiki Trail or take the Gondola up, you’ll still need to make your way to the Queenstown Skyline Gondola, located at the end of Brecon street. The Tiki Trail marks the starting point for the Ben Lomond hike and is found directly next to the Gondola.
I’ve pinned the exact starting point of the Tiki Trail below. You can reach this by foot from the main strip in less than 5 minutes!
Duration: 1 – 1.5 hours
The Tiki Trail is one of my favorite trails in Queenstown. The track is fairly steep as it winds its way up the mountain. You’ll walk through dense beech and fir forest and you’ll spot several wooden “tiki” wooden statue carvings and signs
The trail is well maintained and marked. Even if there is track maintenance, the Queenstown Lake District does a great job of keeping it open all-year-round.
Some of the best views of the Ben Lomond hike are achieved at small clearings at the start of the Tiki Trail. Here, you can get some epic views and photo opportunities of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.
Tip: Keep off the bike tracks. There are several downhill mountain bike tracks that often intersect with the Tiki Trail. You’ll need to keep an eye out for downhill riders on the way.
DON’T MISS: GUIDE TO THE 8 BEST HIKES IN QUEENSTOWN
Optional: Skyline Loop and Bob’s Peak
Duration: 20 minutes
Once you reach the top of the Skyline Hill, you’ll come out at the Gondola. From here, you’ll need to turn right, walk around the Gondola station and follow the signs towards the Ben Lomond Track.
An optional detour is to instead follow signs for the Skyline Loop. This is only a short 20-minute detour.
To start, I went straight past this onto the Ben Lomond Track on the ascent. Instead, I decided to do the Skyline Loop on the descent and then detoured once again to the paragliding launch site and further on to Bob’s Peak behind the Skyline Gondola Hill.
Ben Lomond Track to the Saddle
Duration: 1 hour
Following the signs from the Gondola station and the Luge, walk up the concrete path until you reach a dense fir forest. This is the start of the Ben Lomond track.
Soon, you’ll break out of the forest once again and commence along the exposed grassy and bushy hill all the way to the saddle. This section of the Ben Lomond hike in Queenstown is less steep than the Tiki Trail, but you’ll have much better views of Lake Wakatipu and of course, Ben Lomond himself.
Once you reach the saddle, there are 360 views of the backcountry mountains and the famous Remarkables on the other side.
The Ben Lomond Summit
Duration: 30 minutes – 1 hour
After reaching the saddle, you can rest your legs on a wooden bench and prepare for the summit, or continue straight on.
The summit push is the steepest and most difficult part of the Ben Lomond hike. However, it is not technical and can be achieved by anyone with a decent level of fitness. We made it up to the summit in about 30 minutes from the saddle.
Once at the top of Ben Lomond, the summit will offer you some of the best views in Queenstown.
On a clear day, you will have uninterrupted views of Queenstown, the Remarkables and the incredible Lake Wakatipu. The soaring Cecil and Walter Peaks are also visible across the lake.
On the other side, you may even spot Mounts Earnslaw and Aspiring far in the distance. But, this will depend on how lucky you get with the clouds!
Returning Back to Queenstown
After you’ve soaked up arguably the best views attainable from Queenstown, you’ll be ready for the downhill ascent back to town. This hike is an out-and-back trail, meaning you will need to follow the same track down from Ben Lomond back to Queenstown.
It took me around two and a half hours to reach the bottom, including a detour around the Skyline Loop.
Conveniently, if you follow Brecon Street at the base of the Tiki Trail back to town centre, you’ll pop out right in front of Ferg Burger. So, if you haven’t tied one yet, this will be your excuse. Go on, you’ve earned it.
Best Season to Hike Ben Lomond
I’ve summited Ben Lomond twice on my trips to Queenstown, once in Winter and more recently in Summer.
The summit is accessible all-year round. However, you can expect ice and snow, especially on the summit ascent in Winter.
Since the summit ridge is steep and narrow, you’ll need to take extra care and monitor conditions if attempting the Ben Lomond summit in the colder months of May to September. The official DOC website recommends alpine gear such as crampons and ice axes during this period.
Where to Stay in Queenstown
Where I stayed: Spaceship Car
During my recent visit to New Zealand, I cruised around in style in a Spaceship rental car. These are great for budget adventure travelers since you’ll get your accommodation and transport ticked off in one neat package.
Cheapest Hostel in Queenstown: Base Backpackers
Queenstown is known for a lot of things; adrenaline sports, epic day hikes, and awesome nightlife. What it’s not known for is anything to do with the word cheap. In saying that, if you book ahead, you’ll still be able to get a dorm bed for under $25NZD at Base Backpackers.
Lakefront Hostel with a Vibe: YHA Queenstown Lakefront
YHA opposite the incredible Lake Wakatipu is one of the best and highest-rated hostels in Queenstown. If you’re looking to meet other adventure travelers, be close to the action and prefer a comfortable dorm bed, don’t look past YHA Lakefront.
LOOKING TO HEAD TO MILFORD SOUND? READ THE FULL TRAVEL GUIDE
MY CAMERA AND PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT
- Mirrorless Camera: Canon R5
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro 2
- 360 Action Camera: Insta360 One X2
- Landscape Lens: Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L
- All-Round Lens: Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L
- Telephoto Lens: Canon RF 100-500mm f/f/4.5-7.1 L
- Long Action Pole: Insta360 Invisible Pole (BulletTime)
- Landscape Lens Filter: Hoya Circular Polarizer
- Camera Backpack: F-Stop Tilopa
- Favorite Photography Accessory: Peak Design Capture Clip
For a list of all my recommended photography gear (including what I use and why) check out my guide to camera gear for travel.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to the Ben Lomond Queenstown Hike. If you have any questions or want to learn more, feel free to shoot me a comment or an email. Enjoy!