7 Best Day Hikes in Queenstown, ranked by difficulty
Date: 9 August 2019
Being surrounded by mountains, lakes and stunning scenery makes Queenstown a hiker’s dream. There’s so much great terrain to explore with sweeping views and rewarding lookouts. Queenstown is conveniently located near to several of New Zealand’s Great Walks, including the Routeburn Track and the Milford Track, but you don’t need to embark on a multi-day journey to enjoy what this town has to offer. There are plenty of gorgeous day hikes in Queenstown ranging in difficulty, scenery and length. Here are 8 of our favourites for you to add to your holiday itinerary, ranked from easiest to hardest.
Easy Queenstown Day Hikes
Twelve Mile Delta to Bob’s Cove
Length: 4 km Time: 1 to 2 hours return Difficulty: Easy Location: Car park on the Glenorchy-Queenstown road, 14 km from Queenstown
Bob’s Cove is a lovely secluded cove with calm waters great for swimming, fishing and boating. The walk around the cove from Twelve Mile Delta is leisurely with a slight incline to get to a viewpoint overlooking Lake Wakatipu. Lord of the Rings fans will enjoy this walk knowing that this was a filming location for the Ithilien Camp. Along the track you’ll spot a historic lime kiln from the 1800s, when limestone was processed here. This
Moke Lake Loop Track
Length: 4.5 km Time: 2 to 3 hours return Difficulty: Easy Location: Moke Lake Campsite, 14 km from Queenstown
This popular walk through grassland is surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery and takes you straight to Moke Lake. The loop track is quite popular as it starts and finishes in the same place, though you may choose to continue onwards toward Arthurs Point on the Moonlight track, or toward Lake Dispute. There is little tree cover, so if you happen to go on a sunny day, be prepared to protect yourself from the elements. Moke Lake is a wonderful place to watch the sunset with the reflections of the clouds, mountains and sky in the water.
Lake Hayes Walkway
Length: 8 km return Time: 2 to 3 hours return Difficulty: Easy Location: Lake Hayes Pavilion, 13 km from Queenstown
Lake Hayes is a popular place for events and weddings thanks to its gorgeous water and serene ambiance. Just a short 15 minute drive from town, the Lake Hayes Walkway is one of the best day hikes in Queenstown thanks to its easy nature. There are a few different access points to Lake Hayes, so depending on how long you’d like to walk you can do the full loop or just a portion of it. Because the walkway is well-maintained, it’s stroller-friendly and a great option for families. After you enjoy this walk, stop by one of the nearby vineyards for some wine tasting!
Moderate Queenstown Day Hikes
Length: 2.5 km return Time: 2 to 3 hours return Difficulty: Moderate Location: Belfast Street
Located right in the centre of town, the Queenstown Hill summit is one of the most accessible day hikes in the area. This loop track is a moderately tough uphill climb to get to the summit with incredible views of Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables and the entirety of Queenstown. While the steep ascent may be challenging, taking your time to get to the destination will be well worth your efforts. Because of the proximity to town and the views you get from a relatively short walk, the Queenstown Hill summit is one of the most Instagrammed photo spots in Queenstown. Once you get to the top, we’re sure you’ll understand why!
Mt Crichton Loop Track
Length: 7.3 km Time: 2 to 4 hours return Difficulty: Moderate Location: Mt Crichton carpark on Glenorchy Road, 12 km from Queenstown
This family-friendly walk takes you past rivers, waterfalls, canyons and plenty of native plants. The Mt Crichton area was used for gold mining, and you’ll see some remnants as you reach the historic miner’s tunnel that was cut into the rock with explosives. This track is a great day hike from Queenstown as the scenery and difficulty of the track varies quite a bit throughout as you loop back around.
Challenging Queenstown Day Hikes
Tiki Trail to Bob’s Peak to Ben Lomond
Length: 14.3 km return Time: 6 to 8 hours return Difficulty: Challenging Location: The top of Brecon Street
Another centrally located day hike, the Tiki Trail takes you from town up to Bob’s Peak alongside the gondola. You’ll climb through forests of fir and beech trees for about an hour to get to the top and will be greeted with some of the best views in Queenstown, overlooking the lake and surrounding mountains. From there, continue on to the Ben Lomond track to reach the 1,748m summit.
The walk from Bob’s Peak to Ben Lomond saddle is a relatively gentle uphill ascent, but from the saddle to the summit the track becomes considerably steeper and more technical with loose rocks and slippery tussocks. However, once you get to the summit you’re rewarded with panoramic views of the Remarkables, Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps. Be aware that the weather changes quickly in this region and you should be prepared with proper clothing and equipment.
Length: 1.9 km Time: 1 to 2 hours return Difficulty: Challenging Location: The Remarkables ski field buildings, 24 km from Queenstown
Starting at the base of The Remarkables ski fields, you first walk along the dirt ski area road to reach a rugged and somewhat steep track that takes you to Lake Alta. Lord of the Rings fans will note that this is Dimrill Dale, where the fellowship exits the Mines of Moria after losing Gandalf. Lake Alta is a picturesque glacial lake that is wonderful to visit during the summer to see what the Remarkables ski area is like during the off season. If you’re feeling brave, why not go for a swim in the icy clear water?
These day hikes are a fantastic way to experience the scenery that Queenstown has to offer, whether you are new to hiking or an avid tramper. Once you feel comfortable with these walks, you might consider doing one of the New Zealand Great Walks!