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