Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand. What you might not know is that it’s also a great place for hiking. Here are the 8 best hikes in Queenstown for adventure travelers!
From epic mountain summits straight from town to spectacular coastal tracks on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is the perfect destination for everything outdoors.
In this quick guide, I’ll outline the 8 best hikes in and around Queenstown to help you plan your day trips! I’ve also written comprehensive hiking guides for each hike, so if you are looking for more information and photos, make sure to check out the links below each section.
Best Hikes in Queenstown
Without further ado, here are the absolute best hikes in Queenstown and surrounds! Most of the hikes are accessible either directly from town or just a short drive or hitchhike away.
However, I have included two of my favourite hikes at the end that are accessed from a short drive to neighbouring Glenorchy. The road here is one of the most scenic in New Zealand and only takes roughly one hour. Therefore, it’s possible to hike all of these hikes from Queenstown.
1. Ben Lomond Summit Track
One of the most popular and most challenging hikes in Queenstown is the epic day trip up to the Ben Lomond Summit, which sits at 1748 M AMSL.
This hike is accessed directly from town by starting on the Tiki trail just next to the Skyline Gondola.
Expect a steep yet rewarding ascent that takes roughly 5-7 hours to complete and return. From the summit, you will get sweeping views of Queenstown, the Remarkables and of course, the beautiful Lake Wakatipu.
FULL HIKING GUIDE: HIKING THE BEN LOMOND TRACK IN QUEENSTOWN
2. Tiki Trail to the Gondola
If you’re not quite up to hiking all the way to the Ben Lomond summit, then taking the Tiki Trail to the top of the Skyline Gondola is still a very worthwile trip.
The Tiki Trail is one of Queenstown’s famous local hikes and offers great views of the town from above. The trail itself while steep, it is very scenic as you pass thick birch forest and sounds of native birds.
At the top, you’ll also find the “luge” which is one of the most popular adventure activities found in Queenstown. Furthermore, if you’d like to take the Gondola back down, I’d recommend booking a gondola and luge joint ticket online.
3. Queenstown Hill
Perhaps the most popular hike in Queenstown, the Queenstown Hill loop track is a gentler, yet scenic hike that leads to the top of the resident hill.
The entire track can be managed within 2-3 hours, so there’s no excuse not to hit the trail! I recommend heading up for sunset or sunrise for the most impressive views of Queenstown.
FULL HIKING GUIDE: HIKING THE QUEENSTOWN HILL LOOP
4. Moke Lake Loop
Moke Lake New Zealand is a small mountain lake located near the small suburb of Closeburn, near Queenstown. Although this lake is only a relative stone-throw away from the bustling adrenaline hub, Moke Lake is a much tamer and secluded hiking area.
The Moke Lake Loop is a short, scenic walk that covers the circumference of the lake. There’s also a great lookout point on the adjacent hill where you can catch great views of the lake.
READ MORE: HIKING AND CAMPING AT MOKE LAKE, QUEENSTOWN
5. Bob’s Cove Track
For those looking for a quick and easy coastal track with stunning lake views, then Bob’s Cove Track Queenstown is the most bang-for-hiking-buck track in town. I say that because it’s only a short twenty-minute walk for views that are arguably more impressive than other popular tracks like Queenstown Hill.
On a clear day, I’d highly recommend making the short drive to the cove from Queenstown and climbing up to Picnic Point. While not steep, the views of the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu are spectacular.
COMPLETE GUIDE: BOB’S COVE TRACK QUEENSTOWN
6. Lake Alta Hike
Now for a bit of a “cheat” hike to a scenic alpine lake with a viewpoint which sits at 2000M AMSL . What I mean by this is that you’ll actually be driving the majority of the incline from Queenstown.
The Lake Alta hike is a short track that leads from the Remarkables Ski Area and finishes just beside the lake. However, if you follow my guide below, I detail a relatively unknown route which ends at one of the most impressive viewpoints in Queenstown.
FULL GUIDE: LAKE ALTA HIKE AND SECRET SADDLE VIEWPOINT
7. Earnslaw Burn Hike
Probably one of the best hikes near Queenstown, if not in New Zealand. To get to the trailhead, you’ll need to drive approximately one hour from Queenstown to the nearby town of Glenorchy.
The Earnslaw Burn route follows the Earnslaw glacial burn through dense birch forest before breaking out into a waterfall-lined valley with unbeatable views of the Earnslaw Glacier.
This hike is usually attempted over two days, with freedom camping spots available in the valley. With that said, if you leave early enough and have the energy, you can complete this hike from Queenstown in one day.
8. The Routeburn Track
The Routeburn track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks and also one of the most scenic hikes in New Zealand. Most trampers and hikers attempt this over 2-3 days. However, it is possible to hike the most beautiful section of this track in a long one-day out-and-back hike.
Similarly to the Earnslaw Burn hike, the Routeburn Track is not exactly a hike in Queenstown. You will need to depart a little early to drive the one-hour scenic road to Glenorchy before hitting the trail.
Still, if you don’t have time to stay in Glenorchy, starting the hike from a Queenstown base is still a popular option.
DAY TRIP: BEST ROUTEBURN TRACK DAY HIKE – COMPLETE GUIDE
Essential New Zealand Travel Resources
How to Find Cheap Flights
Still in the planning stage of your trip? The best and easiest way to find cheap flights is to use an airfare search engine like Skyscanner.
TIP: If you’re flexible on dates, search for “Whole Month” to see a calendar result with the cheapest days to fly.
Comparing Best Deals on Accommodation
Whether you’re looking for hostels, hotels, guest houses, or resorts between Booking.com and Agoda, you’ll always get the best deals. I always search using the map feature to find accommodation in the best locations. Sometimes, if I want to stay in a place a little longer, I’ll use Airbnb.
TIP: For the best hostels, I usually compare reviews on Hostelworld, then check other booking sites to compare prices and deals.
Saving Money on Experiences and Tours
New Zealand is all about adventure and adrenaline. For the best deals on tours, adrenaline sports and experiences you’ll need to book online. I always use Klook, Viator and Get Your Guide. Booking in advance is the best way to get the best possible deals on Bungy, Milford Sound Trips and more!
Don’t Forget Adventure Travel Insurance
If you’re reading this blog then you’re more likely to be seeking adventures over poolside sips. By far, my two favorite companies for the most comprehensive adventure travel insurance is World Nomads and SafetyWing. If you’re on the fence, you can read the comparison article.
TIP: If you’re looking for a budget, reliable camper, Spaceships is a good bet. You’ll also find great car rental deals on RentalCars.com Also, make sure to download the Spaceships App, WikiCamps App, and Campermate App to find free campsites and facilities.
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.
MORE IDEAS: COMPLETE LIST OF BEST THINGS TO DO IN QUEENSTOWN
More Things to Do on the South Island
I hope that this quick guide to the best hikes in Queenstown has inspired you to lace up the boots and hit the trails!
For more free adventure travel guides in Queenstown and New Zealand’s South Island, make sure to check out some from the list below. For more great hikes, here’s this guide to the 31 Best Hikes in South Island New Zealand.
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.
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