The Lake Alta hike Queenstown is a short and easily-accessible alpine hike located high up on the Remarkables Mountain Range above Queenstown.
Lake Alta Hike in Queenstown leads to arguably, one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in South Island New Zealand. Sitting at the base of a small dome of jagged peaks, the lake is so picturesque that it was featured in the Lord of the Rings as Dimrill Dale. The short but rewarding hike is often considered one of the best Remarkables hiking trails.
Even if you’re not a LoTR fan (how could you not be), a drive up the Remarkables range and a short 1-hour return hike to Lake Alta should be on anybody’s Queenstown bucket list.
By Olly Gaspar, traveler, travel blogger & photographer for 5+ years with 600+ published travel guides. I visit every place I write about & share real tips from what I learn.
Getting to the Lake Alta Track
Access to the Lake Alta hike is located directly from the car park at the Remarkables ski area. Getting here takes approximately 30 minutes from Queenstown Central.
You'll need to turn off on State Highway 6 (SH6) at the signposted junction to the ski area. From here, it's a steep, winding, but well-maintained road that climbs all the way up the mountain slope.
Driving up to the Remarkables
Driving up to the Remarkables is a bit of an adventure in itself, and the views are certainly a warm-up for things to come.
The road is steep, however easily managed in a 2WD in the warmer months. In winter or after a snowfall, you will need to have snow chains fitted. There are several chain-fitting aisles to pull into on the way up and at the base.
Remarkables access road cost: $10 per car only during the Summer months
Information about the Lake Alta Hike in Queenstown
- Hike Length and Duration: 3.5 km (1 hour) return to the Lake. 5 km (1.5 -2 hours) return to the saddle viewpoint
- Difficulty: Easy
- Lake Alta Elevation: 1850 m
After making it to the skifield car park, we found a signpost with trail information immediately after turning right up the pedestrian roadway.
This is in fact, the trailhead. The start of the hike, therefore, involves some road walking up to the ski fields before continuing on to the right, up a slope, and over a well-marked trail.
There are a few small and gentle creek crossings before reaching Lake Alta, but they are easily managed without getting wet.
The track is fairly steep the entire way up to the lake, gaining approximately 220 m of elevation from the car park to Lake Alta. From the saddle viewpoint, expect another 150 m of elevation to reach just over 2000 m above sea level.
More information and up-to-date track status can be found on the official DOC website.
Lake Alta Hike GPX Map
Below I've included the GPX route that I recorded on my hike up to Lake Alta on my Garmin watch. This track might be useful for those trying to find the way up to the viewpoint on the saddle. However, remember that conditions change and you shouldn't rely purely on GPX.
GPX File: Download
My Strava: Visit
Best Lake Alta Viewpoint: The Saddle Scramble
We had heard that it was possible to make an easy scramble up to the overlooking saddle directly north of Lake Alta. We couldn't see a marked trail, but we figured we would try our luck by walking up the rocks to the obvious rocky outcrop under the saddle.
Once we approached the rocks, we could make out a clear scrambling route all the way to the top of the smooth, grassy saddle to the right.
To find the exact route that we took, refer to the GPX file or my Strava above. Note that since it's not a DOC track, you'll need to attempt this at your own risk. In saying that, we considered it to be easy and relatively safe, at least in Summer. I'd imaging that it'd be slippery and a lot more dangerous in Winter.
DON'T MISS: 8 BEST HIKES IN QUEENSTOWN
View From the Top of the Lake Alta Saddle
After a short but steep scramble, we were rewarded with incredible views of Lake Alta beneath us. On the other side, there are uninterrupted views of Lake Hayes, the Kawarau River, and even the giants on the Mount Aspiring range poking above the Coronet Peak ski fields beyond the valley.
RELATED POST: Where to Stay in Queenstown
Where to Stay in Queenstown
I've written a separate, comprehensive 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.
- Best Luxury Accommodation: Shotover Penthouse & Spa - an incredible apartment that features an outdoor terrace with a barbecue and hot tub. It is situated 200m from the Skyline Gondola and Luge and is 1.3km from the Shotover river.
- Best Value Lodge: Melbourne Lodge - located five minutes walk from central Queenstown & offers picturesque views of the Remarkable mountains and has a large shared outdoor sundeck. This is a great choice for where to stay cheaply in Queenstown.
- Where I stayed: Spaceship Camper - 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 $25 NZD at Base Backpackers.
More Epic Queenstown Hikes
I hope that this guide to hiking to Lake Alta from Queenstown answered all your questions and inspired you to visit this Queenstown gem. For more pictures, scroll to the bottom of this page, where you'll also find links to more epic hikes around Queenstown such as Ben Lomond, Moke Lake, and Queenstown Hill.
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