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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
- 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.
2. 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)
- Difficulty: Easy/Medium
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
- 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)
- Difficulty: Challenging
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.
4. Bob’s Cove Track
- 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)
- Difficulty: Easy
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 parking lot sign is posted 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
- 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)
- Difficulty: Easy
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
- 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!
- Difficulty: Medium
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 headlamp will come in handy for the way down as it gets dark.
7. Lake Alta
- Start: Remarkables Ski Field
- Time: 2 hours
- Length: 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles) return
- Elevation gain: About 200 meters (656 feet)
- Difficulty: Medium
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 parking lot, 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.
If you’d prefer a personalized tour with provided transportation this half-day tour is great. The guide will share his knowledge and answer your questions about the history and geography of Lake Alta and the Remarkables. It’s a great tour for anybody who isn’t overly confident hiking alone, the guide is an expert and knows the area very well!
The views here are really out of this world. In fact, some of the spots in Lake Alta are Lord of the Rings filming locations 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
- Start: Mt Crichton Loop parking lot on Queenstown-Glenorchy Road
- Time: 2 hours
- Length: 8 kilometers (5 miles) total
- Elevation gain: 370 meters (1214 ft)
- Difficulty: Easy
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 that 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 parking lot about 20 kilometers/12 miles from Queenstown out on your left-hand side. It is important to note that from the parking lot, you’ll need to cross the road to get to the trailhead – just be careful as vehicles are known to speed here!
9. Roy’s Peak
- Start: Roy’s Peak parking lot 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)
- Difficulty: Challenging
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 unusual to see a line-up forming to take a photo at the famous viewpoint (about 30 minutes 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
- 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)
- Difficulty: Easy
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! If you didn’t already know, it’s also possible to hike sections of the Routeburn Track in the winter.
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 parking lot.
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/2.5 miles 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.
There’s also a guided full-day tour on one of the more scenic sections of Routeburn Track. Your guide will help keep you on pace and point out some of the 59 bird species that can be found along the way including the world’s only alpine parrot, the Kea.
11. Lake Hayes Walkway
- 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)
- Difficulty: Easy
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!
Must-Do Activities While You’re in Queenstown
Other than hiking, there are lots of other amazing things to do in and around Queenstown. Some of my favorites are:
- Full-Day Milford Sound Experience – This award-winning Queenstown cruise takes place in one of the most scenic places in New Zealand, Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park. This tour takes you along a scenic drive stopping at many of the best lakes, valleys, and tunnels before ending the experience on a 2-hour cruise through the fjords and waterfalls in Milford Sound. It will be a full day, to say the least, but it will be an unforgettable experience. Lunch is provided.
- Dinner at Walter Peak High Country Farm and Cruise – This laid-back dinner plus cruise is perfect for a day off from physical activity. You’ll ride on the 1912 vintage steamer, the TSS “Earnslaw” to Walter Peak High Country Farm where you’ll enjoy high-end barbequed meats or seafood- buffet style. Cap things off with the choice of desserts and cheeses. After, you’ll have the option to stay behind or watch a sheepdog show and sheepshearing demonstration. Truly one of the most exceptional Queenstown tours!
- Scenic Gourmet Food and Wine Tour – Sip wine from New Zealand’s largest wine cave, be served a gourmet lunch and indulge in local cheeses. While enjoying wines from the best regions on the island you will also pass by scenic locations and learn about the Otago Gold Rush. This half-day wine tour in Queenstown has a badge of excellence for being one the best and most popular Queenstown activities.
- Shotover River Canyon Swing– Calling all thrill-seekers! You can jump solo or go tandem on this 60-meter (200-foot) freefall over the Shotover River Canyon. The heart-thumping jump transitions into a graceful swing rocking back and forth above the most epic views. You can expect to allow 2.5hrs for this activity.
- Small-Group Zipline Adventure– If you’re not into freefall activities this zipline over Lake Wakatipu and the snow-capped Southern Alps is a great meet-in-the-middle option that can still push you out of your comfort zone if you so choose. You can pick from one of three height options that you feel most comfortable with. The professional guides make sure to provide you with the safest possible experience.
Where to Stay in Queenstown, New Zealand
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:
This was the first place I ever stayed in Queenstown. It’s a great budget backpacker hostel 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!
Melbourne Lodge – $$
Another beautiful hotel that is located in the heart of Queenstown. What I love about this place is it sits on the end of Queenstown near the airport meaning that you never have to drive through town to visit the ski fields or many major attractions. It’ll save you time and all-round it’s a fantastic place to stay! Rooms here can be as little as $130 NZD per night!
Rydges – $$
I haven’t actually stayed at the Rydges but my brother has. He recommends it as one of the best places to stay in Queenstown for location, price, and amenities! Surprisingly, rooms start at only $150 NZD per night here.
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.
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.
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!
Note: When booking hotels we always use Booking.com. The reason? They are almost 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!