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11 Must-Do Day Hikes in Queenstown

11 Must-Do Day Hikes in Queenstown

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Hiking is one of the best free things to do in Queenstown to do during your visit. In this post, we list 11 amazing day hikes in Queenstown that almost any visitor can do including all relevant information you need to know before you get on the trail! 

There are so many amazing hikes in Queenstown that it can be hard to choose which ones to do during your visit and which ones to skip.

Of course, in a perfect world, it would be amazing if you could explore all of Queenstown’s hiking tracks; however, that would leave little time for anything else!

That’s why we’ve written this blog!

Our list of the best day hikes in Queenstown is based around the most beautiful and accessible hikes. All of these hikes range from only an hour-long all the way to full-day hikes.

This broad range means you can choose the perfect hike (or hikes) for you and your friends and family during your stay in Queenstown.

11 BEST Short Day Hikes in Queenstown

1. Queenstown Hill

The view from Queenstown hill while hiking in Queenstown, New Zealand
The morning glow hiking on Queenstown Hill!
Start:The trail starts on Belfast Terrace in Queenstown (a short walk from town center)
Time:2 hours return
Length:5 kilometers (3.1 miles) return
Elevation gain:About 600 meters (1968 ft)
Difficulty:Easy to moderate

I am kicking off this list with one of the best hikes in Queenstown. Queenstown Hill is one of those trails that is both short and easy, but rewards you with amazing views!

If you only have a few hours to spare for one hike in Queenstown, then I recommend you choose to hike Queenstown Hill.

The trail up to the top is really well maintained and switchbacks up the side of Queenstown Hill through the stunning pine forest that covers it. Once you reach the top, the pine forest quickly disappears and you get panoramic views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the Remarkables Mountain Range.

The trail is rather popular and does get busy in the summer months. A great way to avoid the crowds though is to hike up just before sunrise and enjoy those spectacular views with an early morning glow.

If you would like more information check out our blog post all about the Queenstown Hill Walk. It includes much more in-depth info.

2. Tiki Trail

Tikki Trail to Ben lomond trail
Wandering the forest on the Tiki Trail!
Start:The Tiki Trail starts from the bottom of the gondola at the end of Brecon Street
Time:2 hours return
Length:4.2 kilometers (2.6 miles) return
Elevation gain:450 meters (1476 ft)

The next hike on our list is the Tiki Trail – another short hike that starts right in Queenstown. The Tiki Trail is commonly known as the “Queenstown gondola walking track” as it zigzags up the same hill as the Gondola goes to reach Bob’s Peak.

The trail itself is not overly stunning but it’s the iconic view from the top at Bob’s Peak that makes it so worth hiking up. The view is similar to Queenstown Hill, however, you can see more of the city with the Remarkables as the perfect backdrop!

My personal recommendation is to hike Queenstown Hill and save your legs by taking the gondola up to Bob’s Peak. It’s a pretty cheap gondola ride ($44 NZD for an adult with discounts for kids and families) and you can pair it with the Luge – a fun gravity-fed go-kart ride that’s honestly a must-do!

3. Ben Lomond Track

Heading towards the summit of Ben Lomond Mountain while hiking in Queenstown, New Zealand
Heading towards the summit of Ben Lomond in late Autumn!
Start:Top of the Tiki Trail (at Bob’s Peak). Ben Lomond Track connects with the Tiki Trail.
Time:From Queenstown to the summit it takes about 7 to 9 hours (shortcut is available with riding the gondola)
Length:From Queenstown, the trail is 14 kilometers (8.6 miles) return
Elevation gain:From Queenstown, 1480 meters (4855 ft)

Ben Lomond Track is the longest hike on this list but also offers the best views in my opinion. From the summit, you get a 360-degree view of the area and the Southern Alps.

I just have to say it – Ben Lomond Track is my personal favorite hike in Queenstown!

The trail officially starts from the top of the Tiki Trail (at Bob’s Peak). To get the start, you must either take the gondola to the top or walk-up. The option to take the gondola makes this hike a little more accessible even to those who don’t hike much. Once at the top of the Tiki Trail, you can begin your climb up Ben Lomond to the summit.

Another great thing about Ben Lomond Track is that you don’t have to hike the entire way to the summit to get amazing views, and instead, you can choose to only hike to the saddle.

Getting to the Ben Lomond saddle takes much less time than the summit; in fact, if you take the gondola up and down it’s only a 3-hour return hike to the saddle.

Ben Lomond Track is well worth hiking if you’re up for the challenge. If you would like more information before committing to this hike, check out our blog on the Ben Lomond Track day hike.

4. Bob’s Cove Track

view of Bobs Cove from Picnic Point
Look at that view!
Start:20 minutes from Queenstown on the road to Glenorchy
Time:1.5 hours return
Length: 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) return
Elevation gain:About 50 meters (165 feet)

Bob’s Cove Track starts just outside of Queenstown at, you guessed it, Bob’s Cove! This trail is a very beautiful and easy track that climbs through low bushland before making its way up to a lookout at Picnic Point.

At the lookout, you’re welcomed with stunning views of Lake Wakatipu from above.

This trail is much less crowded than many of the other hiking trails in Queenstown which makes it great for those after some true serenity. After you’re done hiking to the lookout, hang out at the beach area and catch some rays! If you’re brave enough, jump into the freezing Lake Wakatipu for a swim!

To get to Bob’s Cove, simply drive out of Queenstown towards the town of Glenorchy along Lake Wakatipu. The car park is signposted on your left-hand side.

Bob’s Cove Track is not my first pick for the best hike in Queenstown but is still really beautiful and one of the shortest day hikes in the area.

Fun fact: One unique thing about Bob’s Cove is that there are a few Lord of the Rings film locations nearby including Ithilien Camp just down the road at Twelve Mile Delta. We did a Lord of the Rings tour in Queenstown and loved it! It’s easily one of the best tours in Queenstown and worth doing if your a fan of the movies or just love spectacular views!

5. Moke Lake Loop Track

Moke Lake circut in Queenstown, New Zealand
Hiking around Moke Lake!
Start:Moke Lake Campsite just outside of Queenstown
Time:2 to 3 hours total
Length:6.5 kilometers (4 miles) total
Elevation gain:About 150 meters (492 ft)

Moke Lake is a small lake located around a 15-minute drive from Queenstown towards Glenorchy. At Moke Lake, there is a short and easy trail that leads around the perimeter of the lake called Moke Lake Loop.

The views around the lake are beautiful, however, the lake’s most mesmerizing view is seen on a calm day as the reflection of the mountains is seemingly printed on the still water.

The Moke Lake Loop track is less crowded than other hikes around Queenstown and is mostly a popular place among locals.

Another cool thing about the lake is that you can camp there for a small fee in a tent or campervan and sleep under the stars. At night, Moke Lake is one of the best places near Queenstown to view the stars and on a calm night, they actually reflect off the water! It’s also a great place to view the Southern Lights (if you’re lucky, that is!)

6. “Secret” Moke Lake Viewpoint hike

moke lake in Queenstown New Zealand
The best viewpoint at Moke Lake!
Start:Near the Moke Lake Campsite
Time:1.5-2 hours return
Length:Just under 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) return
Elevation gain:Unknown exactly, but it’s steep!

This next hike is not an official trail and actually just a hike I found when exploring Moke Lake. The Secret Moke Lake Viewpoint (that’s really not so “secret” anymore, thanks to our blog) is really worth checking out for those feeling adventurous. The trail itself is extremely steep but once at the top, the views are so worth it!

This place is popular among a few local photographers and is a great vantage point to watch the sunset, or if you’re up for it, the stars! The trail takes around 45 minutes to an hour to climb. On the way down you need to take your time as it is very steep and slippery in areas!

Since this is not an official trail, there are no signs or trail markers to help you find it. For that reason, we wrote a blog on how to get to the Secret Moke Lake Viewpoint so that you can easily hike there too.

If you do want to tackle this epic hike in Queenstown, be sure to be prepared. Wear good footwear and maybe even use gloves for parts of the trail that are more of a scramble. If you’re hiking for sunset, a head lamp will come in handy for the way down as it gets dark.

7. Lake Alta

view of Lake Alta from the trail
Lake Alta is a gorgeous alpine lake!
Start:Remarkables Ski Field
Time:2 hours
Length:3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles) return
Elevation gain:About 200 meters (656 feet)

The hike up to Lake Alta is one of the most unique day hikes in Queenstown. It’s the best way to get out and explore some of the true mountainous areas of Queenstown without multiple days of hiking.

The reason this trail is so accessible is that you drive all the way up to the Remarkables Ski Field before starting the trail. That’s right, the Lake Alta Track trailhead is located right at the Remarkable Ski Field!

From the car park, it’s only a short couple hours of hiking up and back to Lake Alta (but you are actually already 1900 meters above sea level – thanks to the drive!) It’s not just the beautiful lake that’s impressive and you can, in fact, head off and explore many other areas of the Remarkables Mountain range from here.

Some of the views from up at Lake Alta are really out of this world! In fact, this was also a Lord of the Rings film location and LOTR fans might recognize it as Dimrill Dale when the fellowship escapes the Mines of Moria.

Because Lake Alta Track is through the ski field, this hike is best done during the summer months when the Queenstown ski season is over (November to April.) It is important to note that during these months there is a $10 NZD charge per vehicle to drive the road up to the Remarkables.

8. Mt Crichton Loop Track

Mt Crichton loop track in Queenstown, New Zealand
One of the viewpoints along the way!
Start:Mt Crichton Loop car park on Queenstown-Glenorchy Road
Time:2 hours
Length:8 kilometers (5 miles) total
Elevation gain:370 meters (1214 ft)

Mt Crichton Loop Track is a unique hike that is about history as much as it’s about stunning views.

Along the trail, you pass by the old Sam Summers Hut. This small gold mining hut is over 80 years old and is actually an unserviced DOC hut that sleeps up to 4 people. At the hut, there is a stunning waterfall, lots of information about the history of the area, as well as an old gold mining tunnel that is completely safe to enter.

On the other end of the trail, there is a viewpoint the overlooks Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables. On a clear day, this is a beautiful and easy hike suited to all ages and fitness levels.

Mt Crichton Loop Track starts a little out of Queenstown near the 12 Mile Delta Campground. To get there, drive out of Queenstown towards Glenorchy. You will find the car park about 20 kilometers from Queenstown out on your left-hand side. It is important to note that from the car park, you’ll need to cross the road to get to the trailhead – just be careful as vehicles are known to speed here!

For more information, check out our full blog all about Mt Crichton Loop Track!

9. Roy’s Peak

Standing on Roy's Peak at sunrise, Wanaka, New Zealand
Standing on the Roy’s Peak viewpoint just as the sun is rising!
Start:Roy’s Peak car park just outside of Wanaka (an hour drive from Queenstown)
Time:5-7 hours
Length:16 kilometers (10 miles) return
Elevation gain:1,258 meters (4,127 feet)

Okay, so this hike isn’t technically in Queenstown and Roy’s Peak is actually closer to Wanaka. However, it is still only an hour’s drive away and easily done on a day trip from Queenstown.

As one of the best hikes on the whole South Island, I had to include Roy’s Peak on my list of the best day hikes in Queenstown. And once you see the views from the top yourself, you’ll totally understand why.

Roy’s Peak Track is similar to Ben Lomond in the sense that it’s a longer day hike and a bit challenging. The trail is well maintained but steadily climbs until you reach the summit. It’s safe to say it’s a workout!

The only downside to Roy’s Peak is how busy it can get. For real, during the summer months it isn’t usualy to see a line-up forming to take a photo at the famous viewpoint (about 30 minute shy from the summit.)

For that reason, we recommend hiking Roy’s Peak for sunrise when you can avoid the crowds! You’ll also have no problems getting parking at this time of day – bonus!

10. Routeburn Track Nature Walk

This is a photo of the Dart River along the Routeburn Track
This is the type of landscape you can expect on the Routeburn Nature Walk.
Start:Routeburn Shelter just outside of Glenorchy (about an hour’s drive from Queenstown)
Time:1 hour
Length:3 kilometers (1.9 miles)
Elevation gain:70 meters (230 ft)

The Routeburn Track is one of New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks, and as such, is generally hiked over 3 days by people completing the entire trail. However, what many don’t know is that it is possible to hike parts of the Routeburn Track on a day hike from Queenstown!

The Routeburn Nature Walk is a short loop track that begins near Glenorchy about an hour’s drive from Queenstown. Follow the Routeburn Track across suspension bridges, along the turquoise Dart River, and through the forest enjoying the easiest section of this Great Walk.

To complete the official Routeburn Nature Walk you need to turn left when you come to a marked fork in the trail about 10-15 minutes into the hike. Follow this trail until meets up again with the Routeburn Track that you can take back to the car park.

The best part about this hike is that you can really hike as much or as little as you want. Just hike the Routeburn Track as far as you feel comfortable before turning back and hiking back the way you came.

At about 4 kilometers into the hike, you’ll reach a waterfall which is really pretty! Just note that once you reach Routeburn Flats Hut, the trail begins a steep incline which makes for a much more challenging day hike.

Related read: Although you can’t hike the entire Routeburn Track in the winter months, there are sections that you can hike in one day from Queenstown! Read our complete guide to hiking the Routeburn Track in the winter.

11. Lake Hayes Walkway

lake hayes sunset near queenstown
Dan and I hanging out at Lake Hayes for sunset!
Start:Lakes Hayes Scenic Reserve about a 20-minute drive from Queenstown
Time:2-3 hours
Length:8 kilometers (5 miles) return
Elevation gain:140 meters (459 feet)

Lake Hayes is a gorgeous spot only minutes from Queenstown. On a calm day, the lake reflects the surrounding mountains in what makes for one of the best places to take photographs in Queenstown!

Around Lake Hayes is a walking trail known as Lake Hayes Walkway (or Lake Hayes Loop Track.) The trail is mostly flat except for one section that leads up to an epic viewpoint. The track is marked with signs and easy to follow.

During the summer months, you can sometimes find locals swimming in Lake Hayes. Although I don’t think it looks that great (the water is a bit murky), you can jump in if you dare!

At sunset, Lake Hayes is especially beautiful!

Other Awesome Things to do in Queenstown (Besides Hiking!)

Milford sound sunset
A stunning sunset in Milford Sound!

Other than hiking, there are lots of other amazing things to do in and around Queenstown. Some of my favorites are:

Wine tours – Wine tours in Queenstown explore the famous Gibbston Valley wine region. This stunning region produces some of the best Pinot Noir in the world! Book your Queenstown wine tour with our recommended tour company!

Jet Boating on the Shotover River – Shotover Jet is the original jet boat operator in Queenstown and their tour is simply the best out of the 4 choices in Queenstown. We loved the experience and highly recommend it! You can book the tour here in advance to save you time and hassle!

Trip to Doubtful Sound – You’ve heard of Milford Sound but probably not Doubtful Sound! The reason? It’s still an up and coming destination but it’s very unique and the experience in Doubtful Sound is much more personal! Check out this huge range of tours with reviews to Doubtful Sound (my personal favorite was the overnight cruise!)

Milford Sound tour – You can’t come to Queenstown and not visit Milford Sound. It’s my second favorite place (Mount Cook takes the cake) in New Zealand. You can check out a huge range of tours here with reviews and prices!

Where to Stay in Queenstown, New Zealand

YHa Queenstown Lakefront Hostel
Photo credit: YHA Queenstown Lakefront

Queenstown is filled with amazing things to do but also awesome places to stay! One thing about Queenstown though, if you don’t book in advance you will miss out on the best places (and the cheapest ones at that!) Here’s our list of recommended hotels in Queenstown!

When booking hotels we always use The reason? They are honestly always cheaper (we have booked over 250 hotels with them) and if you find a better price they’ll match it guaranteed (even if it’s a special on their own website)!

The Flaming Kiwi Backpackers – This was the first place I ever stayed in Queenstown. It’s a great budget backpackers with a very social vibe. The building is kind of old but it’s great value and even has onsite parking for free! A dorm bed here will cost you around $28 NZD per night!

YHA Queenstown Lakefront – The YHA Lakefront is a more luxurious backpacker hostel that’s literally located 20m from the edge of Lake Wakatipu! A dorm bed here will cost you around $35 NZD pr night.

Melbourne Lodge – Another beautiful hotel located in the heart of Queenstown. What I love about this place is it sits on the end of Queenstown near the airport meaning that you never have to drive through town to visit the ski fields or many major attractions. It’ll save you time and all-round it’s a fantastic place to stay! Rooms here can be as little as $130 NZD per night!

Novotel Queenstown Lakeside -If you want to be close to town then you can’t pass on the Novatel. It’s literally right in the town center near the bustling beach and walking streets. Great hotel, great location, and all-around a great place to stay! Rooms start at $225 NZD.

Rydges – I haven’t actually stayed at the Rydges but my brother has. He recommends it as one fo the best places to stay in Queenstown for location, price, and amenities! Surprisingly, rooms start at only $150 NZD per night here.

Hilton Queenstown Spa & Resort – Bailey and I spent our anniversary at the Hilton and really loved our stay. It’s located a little out of town but they run a free shuttle every 30 minutes. The rooms are beautiful in classic Hilton-style and to me, it’s great value starting at $225 NZD per night.

There are lots of amazing Airbnbs in Queenstown too worth checking out! Personally, I like Airbnbs for longer stays or when I’m traveling with friends!

If you want more information on the different areas to stay in Queenstown and more options for hotels, then check out our blog about where to stay in Queenstown!

Keep Reading

You can also browse all of our blogs about Queenstown, New Zealand, or even van life!


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