Queenstown Hiking & Walking Guide: The Best Hikes & Walks

Roaming around on the ultimate New Zealand South Island itinerary? Be sure to spend some time rambling along the best Queenstown hiking trails.

Nestled on the shores of beautiful Lake Wakatipu, the resort town of Queenstown is a paradise for hikers & walkers. The best hiking & walking trails in Queenstown traverse New Zealand’s finest natural terrain. They meander through pristine forests, up picture-perfect mountains, and past crystal-clear lakes. Hiking in Queenstown is an experience like none other in the Southern Hemisphere!

Ready to walk & hike your way through New Zealand’s adventure capital? Get started with this complete guide to the best hikes & walks in Queenstown, New Zealand…

The best hikes & walks in Queenstown

Queenstown Hill

Looking for the perfect place to start your Queenstown walking adventure? Set your eyes upon Queenstown Hill. Located near the centre of town, this accessible day hike transports you to the summit of Queenstown Hill. The beautiful hill sits among Queenstown’s must-see attractions.

Once atop, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding area. Whisk yourself away with panoramic vistas of beautiful Lake Wakatipu and the Wakatipu Basin. You’ll also get to marvel at Cecil Peak, The Remarkables Mountain Range, and the town centre below.

View from Queenstown Hill

Be prepared: Although accessible, the hike up Queenstown Hill is steep and moderately challenging. The entire Queenstown Hill Loop, starting at Belfast Street, is 2.5 kilometres long. It should take you about 2 to 3 hours to complete.

  • Distance: 2.5 kilometres
  • Time: 2 to 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The Tiki Trail

If you want to earn your way to one of the best views over Queenstown with some sweat equity, power up The Tiki Trail. This popular hiking route starts at the base station of the Skyline Queenstown Gondola. It weaves through a lovely mountainside fir & beech forest to the lookout point at the summit of Bob’s Peak.

View from Tiki Trail

Once you’ve enjoyed the amazing lake & mountain views on top, plenty of options await. If you’re tuckered out from the climb, you can return to Queenstown abroad the gondola. Otherwise, you can continue your day of trekking along the Ben Lomond Track. (More on that below…)

  • Distance: 2.1 kilometres
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Ben Lomond Track

The first two entries of our best Queenstown day hikes don’t seem challenging enough? Gear yourself up for the challenging Ben Lomond Track. This 11-kilometre return hike is not for the faint-hearted. The track runs its course from Bob’s Peak to the 1,748-metre-high summit of Ben Lomond.

To get to the trailhead, start with the Tiki Trail in central Queenstown. Alternatively, you can catch a ride to the upper station on the Skyline Gondola.

From the starting point, it’s a gentle ascent to the Ben Lomond Saddle. The return hike to the saddle from the upper gondola station should take no more than 3 to 4 hours.

View from Ben Lomond

The real challenge lies in the final ascent to the summit. From the saddle onwards, the trail steepens and becomes more rugged. If you tough it out though, you’ll be treated to spectacular views. At the top, you’ll swoon over Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables. On a clear day, you’ll even see as far as Mt Aspring and Mt Earnslaw in the Southern Alps.

When attempting this long and challenging hike, be sure to prepare with proper footwear and clothing. You’ll want to wear a robust pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots to tackle the terrain. Also bring along warm clothing and reliable outerwear. The conditions along the trail can change quickly. Between April and November, you can often expect snow and ice above the tree line.

  • Distance: 11 kilometres
  • Time: 3 to 4 hours (Ben Lomond Saddle); 6 to 8 hours (Ben Lomond Summit)
  • Difficulty: Hard

Mt Crichton Loop Track

One of the best day hikes around Queenstown, Mt Crichton Loop Track slips past many of the natural wonders New Zealand is famous for.

On the 7.3-kilometre-return walk, you’ll brush through beautiful native forests. As expected, the bush teems with native New Zealand birds & wildlife. You’ll also catch glimpses of blissful mountain peaks, rivers, and a beautiful waterfall.

Aside from the gorgeous scenery, you’ll stumble upon remnants of the area’s gold mining days. Keep on the lookout for the old mining tunnel and the over-80-year-old miner’s hut near the end of the loop.

Sam Summers Hut

Many local hikers still refer to the trail as the Sam Summers Hermit Hut Track, paying homage to the historic hermit hut. The well-preserved unmanned hut is managed by the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC). It offers shelter and a place for up to 4 people to stay should the need arise.

You’ll find the entrance to the trail along the Glenorchy-Queenstown Road. It’s about 12 kilometres from the Queenstown CBD.

  • Distance: 7.3 kilometres
  • Time: 2 to 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Moke Lake Loop Track

If you’re looking for an easy walk to add to your South Island hiking adventure, beeline for the Moke Lake Loop Track. This popular hike starts about twenty minutes northwest of Queenstown. It loops through the calming grasslands around the beautiful horseshoe-shaped Moke Lake.

Moke Lake

Along the way, you’ll soak in remarkable views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. The alpine goodies to spot include Mt Hanley, Ben Lomond, and Wedge Peak. If you catch Moke Lake on a calm day, the reflections of the scenery in the clear waters are simply stunning!

The entire loop should take no more than two to three hours to complete. If you want to extend your hike, you can ramble on along the Moonlight Track to Arthur’s Point.

  • Distance: 4.5 kilometres
  • Time: 2 to 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

Bob’s Cove Track

For a leisurely stroll around Queenstown, there’s perhaps no better walk than the Bob’s Cove Track. This popular trail is located along the Glenorchy-Queenstown Road. It follows the shoreline of its namesake cove on the mid-north shores of Lake Wakatipu. At its apex, the hike culminates at a lookout point with incredible views over the water.

Bob's Cove

On top of its ease, the family-friendly track isn’t quite as crowded as others closer to the town. It’s a great place to enjoy some peace and quiet amid the bustle of one of New Zealand’s preeminent travel destinations.

If you’ve got more wind in your sails, extend your Bob’s Cove walk to the Twelve Mile Delta to the east. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the Ithilien Lookout towards the end of the trail. Lord of the Rings fans will recognize the beautiful scenery that stood in as the Ithilien Camp in the films.

  • Distance: 4 kilometres
  • Time: 1 to 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

Lake Hayes Loop

The Lake Hayes Loop has long been seen as one of the prettiest walks in Queenstown. The legendary hike meanders eight kilometres along the lovely shorelines of its namesake lake.

The walkway is well-maintained and flat. It’s a fantastic option if you’re visiting Queenstown with kids and want to see some epic scenery. Without the fuss.

Lake Hayes

If you visit on a calm day, the wetlands and mountains reflecting into the chill waters of Lake Hayes present a remarkable scene.

RELATED: Top Things to See & Do in Arrowtown

The Lake Hayes Loop lies about 5 kilometres from Queenstown. You’ll see the trailhead near the turnoff for Arrowtown.

  • Distance: 8 kilometres
  • Time: 2 to 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

Lake Alta

Want to explore the blissful mountainscapes of Queenstown? The hike to Lake Alta is a brilliant start. The trail starts at the Remarkables Ski Field and soaks in some of the area’s finest alpine scenery. It’s the best mountain escape in the area, save treading deeper into the Southern Alps.

Lake Alta

In only a few short hours, you’ll conquer this rugged & spectacular trail. It culminates at the shores of its beautiful namesake high-altitude glacial lake.

RELATED: Top Queenstown Ski Fields & Ski Resorts

After soaking up the incredible mountain and lake views, you can continue to explore more of The Remarkables. Or you can head back down to the car park to travel back to Queenstown.

The Lake Alta trailhead is about 24 kilometres from Queenstown. The access road to the Remarkables Ski area is off of Highway 6 south of Frankton.

  • Distance: 1.9 kilometres
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Hard

Sunshine Bay Track

To catch Lake Wakatipu from yet another angle, don’t miss a chance to stroll along the Sunshine Bay Track. Traversing the lakeshore minutes from the centre of Queenstown, this bayfront trail is popular for its great views over the water. In the distance, upon the southern shores of Lake Wakatipu, you’ll see Cecil Peak and Walter Peak.

Sunshine Bay

The Sunshine Bay Track is one of the easier day walks in the area. At three kilometres long, one hour should be plenty of time to relish in the sights and enjoy fresh air off the lake.

  • Distance: 3 kilometres
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy

Other popular hiking trails near Queenstown

  • Routeburn Track: One of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the 3-day Routeburn Track is nothing short of epic. The hike ventures through the snow-capped peaks of Mt Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park. The best time to tackle the trail for hikers is during The Great Walks Season (October to April). In general, this is one of the best times to go to New Zealand. It’s also one of the busiest. If you’re planning to visit the Routeburn Track at this time of year, you’ll need to book your spot in advance. Tight on time? There are also several short walks in the area ranging between one to six hours.
  • Milford Track: The most famous hiking trail in New Zealand, the Milford Track treks 53 kilometres from the head of Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. On the popular track, you’ll traverse a series of boardwalks and suspension bridges. They roll alongside beautiful lakes, rainforests, mountains, and valleys. The journey along the Milford Track normally takes about 3 days to complete.
  • Hollyford Track: Another three-day walk through the UNESCO World Heritage Site Fiordland National Park. The Hollyford Track traverses north to south, whisking you from the mountains to the Tasman Sea coast north of Milford Sound.

Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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