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How to Hike the Ben Lomond Track From Queenstown

How to Hike the Ben Lomond Track From Queenstown

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

The Ben Lomond track is one of the most popular alpine hikes near Queenstown on the South Island of New Zealand.

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!

After several trips to Queenstown and hiking up Ben Lomond countless times (in every season), I’ve written this no-fuss guide to reach the summit via my preferred route: The Tiki Trail to the Skyline Gondola then onto to the Ben Lomond track to the summit. I’ll also touch on the other routes to help you choose.

Ben lomond track in winter

What You Need to Know To Hike The Ben Lomond Track

The Ben Lomond track is easily one of the best hikes in Queenstown. From its summit, you'll be rewarded with incredible views of the Remarkable Range and the beautiful forests sloping down to Lake Wakatipu. Here's what you need to know about the full route (starting on the Tiki Trail).

  • Hike Distance: 18 km (return)
  • Duration: 5-7 hours (out and back)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,483 meters
  • Starting Point: Base of the Skyline Gondola
  • Highest Point: 1,748 meters above sea level
  • Track Difficulty: Strenuous due to high elevation gain, but no technical climbing involved
  • Best Season: Accessible year-round, but extra care is required in winter (May-September)
  • Best Route: Start with the Tiki Trail to the Skyline Gondola, then follow the Ben Lomond track to the summit (3 more options below)
  • Map: My Strava | Download GPX (.gpx 2.2 Mb)

The mountain itself is named after the famous Ben Lomond mountain in Scotland, but the 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.

Ben lomond summit from the ben lomond track
First view of the Ben Lomond Summit after Ben's Peak
Ben lomond summit from the ben lomond track in summer
Same view in Summer

Ben Lomond FAQs

How High is Ben Lomond Mountain?

The Ben Lomond peak elevation is 1,748 m above sea level. Hikers will start from the base of the Gondola at around 340 m, which means you'll be up for over 1,400 metres of elevation gain in a single hike.

Where does the hike start?

The official Ben Lomond Track starts just beside Queenstown's Gondola. However, you can start hiking via the Tiki Trail on Brecon Street (my recommendation), One Mile Creek parking lot, or via the Skyline Access Road.

What should I bring on the Ben Lomond hike?

Bring plenty of water, snacks, a hat, sunscreen, and a camera for the views. In colder months, add warm layers, gloves, and a beanie. Always check the weather forecast before you go.

When is the best time to hike Ben Lomond?

While the hike can be done year-round, the best time is during the warmer months from November to April. This period offers the best favorable weather conditions and clear trails.

Do I need any special equipment?

In the summer, standard hiking gear is sufficient—good hiking boots, water, and layers for changing weather. I've hiked this in Winter twice now with the same gear but the snow can get deep. The DOC recommends alpine gear like crampons and ice axes. In my experience, I didn't need it but microspikes will help. Still, don't underestimate this peak in winter with heavy snow and ice!

Is Roy's Peak or Ben Lomond better?

After hiking both trails I can say that Ben Lomond is more challenging due to its higher elevation gain and longer distance. Roy’s Peak, near Wanaka, is easier and shorter but still a good challenge while offering incredible panoramic views over Lake Wanaka. I prefer Ben Lomond for its more "remote" and alpine feel (even though it's an entry-level peak)!

How difficult is this climb?

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 much 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.

Is there parking near the trailhead?

Yes, there is parking available near the base of the Skyline Gondola on Brecon Street. However, the time limit is 4 hours and spaces can fill up quickly, in all seasons. Alternatively, I always park in one of the 24-hour free parking spots near the Queenstown Gardens (try Sydney St, Brisbane St, Hobart St, Adelaide St, or Melbourne St).

Girl hiking in dep snow, new zealand
Expect some deep snow in Winter!

Ben Lomond Hiking Route Options

There are four main hiking routes that you can take to reach the summit of Ben Lomond from Queenstown.

  1. Option 1: One Mile Creek Track - This begins from the One Mile Creek parking lot on Glenorchy-Queenstown Road. This is not a very common way to hike Ben Lomond as the track can be slightly confusing at times.
  2. Option 2: Tiki Trail to the Bob's Peak to the Ben Lomond Track - This is the full Ben Lomond hike from Queenstown and the best option if you want a full-day hike straight from town.
  3. Option 3 (lazy option): Take the Gondola to the Skyline (Bob’s Peak) 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. From here, you'll continue on and meet up at the Ben Lomond Track.
  4. Option 4: Skyline Access Road - The fourth option that I had to take on my most recent way up since the Tiki Trail was closed. Begins from Lomond Crescent and follows dusty switchbacks along an access road to the Gondola, then meets up with the Ben Lomond track near Bob's Peak after the Skyline Gondola.
Toilet on the ben lomond track
There is a new drop toilet just before the Saddle

My Experience Hiking Ben Lomond

Below is a detailed write-up of what to expect on the full trail starting at the Tiki Trail. I've included photos from my trips from all seasons throughout so you have a better idea of what to expect when you go.

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.

View of queenstown from the tiki trail
View of Queenstown from the Tiki Trail

Tiki Trail to the Skyline Gondola

  • 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.

Tiki trail hike from queenstown
Tiki Trail from Queenstown
Tiki trail queenstown hike

Optional: Skyline Loop and Bob's Peak

  • Duration: 20 minutes

Once you reach the top of Skyline Hill (Bob's Peak) you'll come out at the Gondola. From here, you'll need to turn right, walk around the Gondola station and follow the signs toward 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.

Paragliding behind queenstown gondola

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, we broke out of the forest once again and commenced along the exposed grassy and bushy hill all the way to the saddle. This section is less steep than the Tiki Trail, but you'll have much better views of Lake Wakatipu and of course, Ben Lomond!

Hiking ben lomond mountain in summer, queenstown, new zealand
Hiking in Summer
Ben lomond track in winter
Ben Lomond Track in Winter
Ben lomond track, new zealand

Once we reached the saddle, there were 360 views of the backcountry mountains and the famous Remarkables on the other side.

Ben lomond track in summer
Ben lomond track in winter

The Ben Lomond Summit

  • Duration: 30 minutes - 1 hour

After reaching the saddle, we took a rest on a wooden bench and prepared for the summit. Below are some photos of what the saddle looks like during different times of the year.

The summit push is the steepest and most difficult part of hiking up Ben Lomond. 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 in Spring and about an hour in Winter due to heavy snow.

Girl hiking up ben lomond from the saddle
Hiking ben lomond saddle in queenstown
Ben lomond summit and lake wakatipu drone photo
The entire summit route from the Ben Lomond saddle.

Queenstown Views from the top of Ben Lomond

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!

Ben lomond hike queenstown viewpoint
Ben Lomond summit views over Lake Wakatipu
Ben lomond summit ridge
Views over the backcountry

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 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 the 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.

Tip: If you're feeling tired, you can also take the Gondola back down!

Descent from ben lomond
Ben lomond queenstown hike track

Ben Lomond Track Map

Below you can find a track map for the Ben Lomond Queenstown hike shared from the official DOC website. Most people will start by taking the Skyline Gondola up to the official start of the Ben Lomond Track.

However, I recommend Tiki Trail to the Skyline Gondola and then onto the Ben Lomond track from there. (Full details below).

I provided the GPX map from one of my trips up that I recorded on my Garmin watch. 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.

Ben lomond queenstown hike trail map

Best Season to Hike Ben Lomond

I've summited Ben Lomond several times on my trips to Queenstown, in Spring, Winter, and 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.

Ben lomond in spring
Ben lomond summit view in spring
View from ben lomond in winter
View of queenstown from the ben lomond hike
Summit View in Summer

Where to Stay in Queenstown

I've written a separate, accommodation guide to the best places to stay in Queenstown– make sure to check it out get a great deal! Otherwise, below is a quick summary of my top picks.

Shotover penthouse & spa queenstown accommodation new zealand

1. Shotover Penthouse & Spa Luxury

An incredible penthouse apartment that features an outdoor terrace with a barbecue and hot tub. It is situated 200 m from the Skyline Gondola and Luge.

Outdoor hot tub at night at the luxurious family home

2. Family Home Group Pick

Great for families due to its epic 5-bedroom option and a bonus is the trampoline and outdoor hot tub. And just an 8-minute drive from Downtown Queenstown.

The black sheep backpackers queenstown accommodation

3. Black Sheep Backpackers Budget

A fun-filled hostel that features pod beds, an outdoor hot tub, and located within walking distance from central Queenstown. Free bike rental is available.

Spaceship rentals 3840

3. Spaceship Camper Alternative

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.

Img 2618

I hope you've enjoyed this guide to hiking Ben Lomond in Queenstown, New Zealand. Before you head off, make sure to check out some of my other adventure guides to the region below.

Hiker couple in new zealand
My parents having a go at ben lomond in winter
Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.