The Ben Lomond Hike – Complete Guide
June 8, 2018
The Ben Lomond Hike
The Ben Lomond Hike is one of Queenstown’s premier hikes. The hike takes you to all levels of Queenstown’s diversity, from the thick pine forests to the exposed shrub ground, and finally to the magnificent mountain peaks of the alpine region.
Taking in the views of the surrounding area and alpine peaks that tower over the lake below is breathtaking. Once above, it becomes all too clear how small we really are and just how stunning this part of the world is.
In my opinion, no trip to Queenstown would be complete without a walk along the Ben Lomond trail. For that reason, I have written this post to help those planning the trip and maybe inspire a few others who weren’t already sold! This will include all the information you need to have the best day and make some amazing memories!
*Disclosure statement: Warning, reading this post may make it impossible not to do The Ben Lomond hike!
Where does the Ben Lomond Hike start from?
Ok, so first things first – where does the Ben Lomond Hike start from? The Ben Lomond Hike starts right in town at the end of Brecon Street. This is also the place where you catch the gondola to the Skyline complex above Queenstown. From the end of this street, there are clearly marked signs that point you to the trail.
The trail that you start from is not called “Ben Lomond” and is actually called the “Tikki Trail.” This is because the trail you start on is simply the trail up to the skylight tower that follows the Gondola up the mountain. It is important to follow these signs so you don’t end up on the mountain bike trail that runs beside the start of the trail.
Transferring to the Ben Lomond Trail from the Tikki Trail?
As you hike up the Tikki Trail you will eventually come to a clearing where the skylight restraint and go-cart track is located. To continue on to the Ben Lomond trail make a slight left and keep walking up the hill. The start of the trail is only 50 meters from the clearing and heads into the thick forest.
It is really easy to find and there are plenty of staff around you can ask if you do get a little lost!
How long is the Ben Lomond Hike?
To the saddle, the hike takes 4 hours return from Queenstown town center. If you plan on hiking to the summit then allow at least 7 hours to complete the hike. If you like taking photos I would definitely allow more time though!
For those who don’t know, the saddle is the lowest point along the Ben Lomond ridge and the summit is the highest! The last photo in this post shows this clearly as you see the steep ascent from the saddle to the summit.
How hard is the hike?
The entire hike to the summit is straight up and does become a lot steeper once you reach the saddle and begin your summit. For these reasons, in good weather, the hike is of medium difficulty.
However in icy conditions, like we had during our hike, I would say the trail becomes a lot more difficult. Even with good quality hiking boots, the trail was extremely slippery.
The section of the trail from the saddle to the summit is not recommended for children under the age of 10. This section is also hard to complete in icy conditions without the right equipment.
Can the trail be hiked all year?
The Ben Lomond Trail is open all year, however, it is important to watch weather conditions. Weather conditions between the months of April and October mean icy conditions should be expected on the upper section of the trail. Summiting during this time can become dangerous and should only be attempted by those with alpine experience.
What I loved most about the Ben Lomond Hike
The views – They are simply amazing, and I am still in shock at how beautiful Queenstown really is. If you want to get the best views of Queenstown then the Ben Lomond Trail is your best option!
My favorite part was before the saddle on a peak offering views similar to the famous Roy’s Peak!
It’s only a day hike – Don’t get me wrong, I love multi-day hikes and camping under the stars, however, it was really nice to be able to walk out my front door with little to no preparation and within 5 minutes be on a world-class hike.
The very few other hikers – Yes it’s true I hiked during the shoulder season just before winter but I still expected a few hundred hikers, I mean it is Queenstown! However what I was met with was open views without a person in sight for most of my journey.
It’s free! – Like so many amazing things in New Zealand, the Ben Lomond Trail is totally free! So save that money for a Ferg Burger instead!
What to bring
Food and water – If you plan on heading up to the summit then you will need to prepare for a full day of hiking. Bringing a packed lunch, snacks and plenty of water is a must. To the saddle, snacks and a small water bottle are enough.
Flashlight – Bringing a flashlight is handy in case you begin to lose light behind the mountains.
Good footwear – Good footwear in winter is necessary and good quality, waterproof hiking boots are a good choice. In summer, sneakers will suffice.
Camera – This goes without saying but the views are so amazing you’re going to want to take a few photos to show your friends!
- For those with no hiking experience, you can take the gondola up to the start of the hike. This will shave almost 2 hours off your hike!
- You don’t have to hike to the saddle to get amazing views! Only a 30-minute walk from the top of the Gondola you can have amazing views of the area without hiking the entire trail. In fact, I actually enjoyed the views from here better than the saddle!
- If your short on time then riding the Gondola up, hiking to the saddle and then taking a ziplining tour down is a great way to tick off a few things in only one day!
The Ben Lomond Hike ticks all the boxes when it comes to great hikes and the best thing is it can be done in only a day. You can head out straight from your hotel without the hassle of organizing transport or paying for a guide. The views on offer at the top are stunningly breathtaking and are certainly not to be missed on your trip to Queenstown!