There are so many things to do in Queenstown, New Zealand. When I looked into visiting, I knew I’d want to go on a few rewarding hikes. The Ben Lomond trail in Queenstown kept coming up as one of the best hikes in the city, so I put it on the itinerary.

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown, New Zealand

The Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown is classified as a challenging hike. It’s not recommended for those who aren’t in good physical shape. Bringing children on this hike would not be a good idea.

There are a few ways you can hike this trail. The first option is by starting on the Tiki Trail, which is at the bottom of the Skyline Gondola. This is said to be the locals way of hiking this trek. The second option is to take the gondola up to Bob’s Peak and start the hike from there. This will carve off about an hour of steep inclines.

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

 

Both Michael and I have past injuries in our knees, which makes long, steep hikes difficult and painful. Because of this, we decided to opt for the second option of taking the gondola up to Bob’s Peak to start the trek. Though this option is definitely more expensive (it’s $35 per person for a return ticket on the gondola), we figured it would be the better option due to a late start and our physical conditions.

From the top of the gondola, the trek up the Ben Lomond trail in Queenstown will take you about 2.5 hours. We stopped a fair amount for water, and also had a lunch break on the way up. This made our time about three hours from the gondola to the peak.

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

The trail is composed of mostly constant incline. There are very few flat areas, which coupled with the altitude, makes this a very challenging hike. Bring some snacks to keep your sugars up, and make sure to take lots of water breaks.

The top of the mountain has absolutely stunning views of Lake Wakatipu. This is the only place in Queenstown that you’ll get 360 degree views like this (unless you take a helicopter tour). Though the hike up is very difficult, the view at the top was completely worth the hard work it took to get there.

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

We even found snow at the top and made little snowballs to throw at each other.

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

A not-so-little native Kea bird frequents the summit. He was trying to get food and even got into one girls bag and stole her tobacco! Watch your bags if he is there, as he is able to open backpacks with his beak (you can tell he has experience). The locals request that people do not feed the Kea birds, as this will promote these behaviors.

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown : Mistakes & Successes

We made a few mistakes on this hike, the main one being that we brought one backpack between the two of us. With enough water for two, lunch, snacks, and layers packed into a 28 liter backpack, our bag weighed about 10 kg. This added another challenge to the hike.

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

The best thing we did on this hike: pack enough water, bring lots of snacks (I’m obsessed with vanilla Bliss Balls – shown above – or Tom & Lukes Salted Caramel balls), and wear sunblock and hats! We also brought plenty of layers, which we took on and off often.

Something to keep in mind while doing this trek: allow yourself enough daylight hours! We had a late start (due to the bathroom at our airbnb being occupied for 2 hrs in the morning…), and by the time we got to the top of the gondola, it was already past 11 am. Be prepared to take loads of photos from Bob’s Peak before heading off. We started the actual hike around noon, and we arrived back to the gondola at 5:30 PM. During the autumn months, the sun sets around 7:45 PM.

Be prepared to pee outside on this hike. There are no toilets after the gondola. However, I did find one big rock just past the saddle that when hidden behind, was perfect for a pee break. Have your hiking partner keep a look-out though; this is a busy trail!

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

Ben Lomond Trail in Queenstown

Overall, the Ben Lomond trail in Queenstown was one of the most amazing hikes I’ve ever completed. The views are amazing all the way up, the terrain is constantly changing, and the summit is just breathtaking. I highly recommend trying it out if you are in Queenstown (and physically able!).

 

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The Famous Figure 8 Pools in Sydney

One sunny day, I hopped in the car with Natalie and Michael, and we headed into the Royal National Park to visit the insta-famous Figure 8 Pools. My au pair family had highly recommended it, and after seeing the instagram photos, we knew we had to check it out.

Figure 8 Pools & Burning Palms Beach Figure 8 Pools Sydney Royal National Park

After we parked, we took the trail to Burning Palms Beach. The hike is a moderate and hilly. It’s just about 45 minutes to the beach. Make sure to bring your water!

Figure 8 Pools Royal National Park HikingFigure 8 Pools Royal National ParkFigure 8 Pools Burning Palms Beach

Once we got down to the beach, we had to do some minor rock climbing to get to the pools.

Figure 8 Pools Burning Palms Beach RocksFigure 8 Pools Burning Palms Beach

We finally made it to the Figure 8 Pools and they were astonishing. Each little pool looked like it’s own little world, full of different types of colorful plants.

Instagram Famous Figure 8 Pools: A Must Visit in Sydney Figure 8 Pools Sydney: A Must Visit Figure 8 Pool Sydney: A Must Visit

We had such a fun day checking out the pools. Some people were swimming in them, but the water was freezing! Figure 8 Pools Burning Palms Beach Sydney

Figure 8 Pools Instagram Famous Sydney

We even saw a rainbow on our walk back – pure magic. While walking through the beach and the forest, I couldn’t help but become awestruck at the beauty that surrounds us. This is truly a magical place. Rainbow over Burning Palms Beach, SydneyThe figure 8 pools were such an incredible sight, and it was even better that Michael and Natalie were there with me. Natalie is a photographer and she is amazing at it – check her out. She took some of the photos above! Famous Figure 8 Pools Sydney

The total cost of this trip was $12 for parking. If you’re visiting Sydney, I’d highly recommend checking out these pools and a few other hikes in the Royal National Park.

When you visit the Figure 8 Pools, make sure to bring your bathers (that’s Australian for swimsuit), a picnic, and plenty of water. We also had a bit of rain, so make sure you’re prepared for all types of weather.

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Best Hikes in Sydney: Manly To Spit Bridge Hike

After many months of procrastination, I’ve finally completed the Manly to Spit Bridge hike. I was looking forward to this one incredibly, but I’d been procrastinating on it because it’s a 3-4 hour hike…. EACH WAY. I originally wanted to do the full hike round trip, but ended up doing just one way. Here are the best tips I’ve picked up from this experience. Manly to Spit Walk Best Hikes Sydney

Manly to Spit Bridge Hike

Pro tip 1: Start at Spit Bridge and go toward Manly. This way, you’ll start out all fueled up, hydrated, and ready. Spit Bridge is located on the highway, not really close to any restaurants or shops. I’d recommend starting there, so that you can end the hike at Manly beach and wharf, where you’ll have endless options for food, lots of beautiful beach, and plenty of places to regain your energy. Manly to Spit Walk Best Hikes Sydney

I started at Manly, which is a beautiful beach that you may want to spend some time at. The walk is full of lookouts and wildlife at the beginning.

Pro tip 2: Bring plenty of water and definitely bring snacks. There are limited water refill stations (I spotted 2 in 4 hours) and you will definitely be hungry halfway in. We stopped a few times to catch our breath, hydrate, and make some friends. Manly to Spit Walk Best Hikes SydneyManly to Spit Walk Best Hikes Sydney Turkey

The walk is mostly forested trails, and some parts go through residential areas. Wear layers, bring a backpack, and don’t forget your camera because there are some insane views.Manly to Spit Walk View Best Hikes SydneyManly to Spit Walk View Best Hikes SydneyManly to Spit Walk View Best Hikes Sydney

Look for the famous ocean pools that are scattered around the path (and throughout the beaches of Sydney).

Manly to Spit Walk View Best Hikes SydneyManly to Spit Walk View Best Hikes Sydney

If you forgot to bring snacks (like I did), and have a really low tolerance for having low blood sugar (like I do), stop off at the little cafe at Clontarf beach for some refreshments! There aren’t loads of options, so I ended up with fries and a bottle of orange juice. There is no photo of this because I had 0 patience and scarfed it down to regain energy asap. But here is a photo of the beautiful Clontarf beach:

Best Hikes in Sydney: Manly to Spit Bridge The Manly to Spit Bridge walk was one of my favorites so far – but next time I’d make sure to be a bit more prepared with snacks.

Are you going to Sydney (or dreaming about it)? Check out some of my favorite vegan places to eat in Sydney, a guide to the working holiday visa in Australia, or some of my favorite hikes in Sydney!

 

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Bradley’s Head: Sydney Hiking

One of my favorite things about Sydney is the great hiking. One sunny Saturday, I took the trek along the harbor from Chowder Bay to Bradley’s Head. I started out at Clifton Gardens, the park inside of Chowder Bay.

Chowder Bay

Bradley's Head Hike SydneyBradley's Head Hike SydneyBradley's Head Hike Sydney

Here, I found the tiniest coffee shop I’ve ever seen. The coffee shop is inside an old military bunker, and the patio outside makes for great scenery to sip on a hot cup of coffee.

Bradley's Head Hike Sydney

After I was all fueled up on my {favorite aussie coffee} soy cappuccino, I headed up the trail toward Bradley’s Head.

The Trek

Bradley's Head Hike SydneyBradley's Head Hike SydneyBradley's Head Hike SydneyBradley's Head Hike Sydney

The path is meant to take about an hour; it’s 2.5 km long. It’s one of the most beautiful walking paths I’ve found in Sydney. Stroll through the dense vegetation with harbor views to your left – the views on this walk are breathtaking!

Bradley's Head Hike SydneyBradley's Head Hike Sydney

Bradley’s Head

At Bradley’s head, see a massive lighthouse, plus the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House!

Bradley's Head Hike SydneyBradley's Head Hike Sydney

Once you get to Bradley’s Head, sit and have a picnic on the grass (if you packed one); the park is very cute. Or walk a few more meters to the ferry terminal at Taronga Zoo and take the ferry to the city. The ferry is super fun and I highly recommend it; Sydney has very cute ferries and the scenery isn’t bad, either.

Bradley's Head Hike SydneyBradley's Head Hike Sydney

This is a great way to spend a sunny Sydney day – get your runners on, pack some water and snacks, and get outside! Just don’t forget your camera 🙂

Check out the hike I did the following weekend: the Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach coastal trek!

 

 

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