Hike to Ben Lomond Summit
New Zealand › Ben Lomond Track
Added by Maggie Evans
If you're in Queenstown and consider 360-degree views of lakes and mountains a worthwhile reward for a day hike, then trekking to the Ben Lomond summit is a perfect adventure for you! The track starts right from town so you don't need a car, and unlike town, the track is rarely busy.
Adventuring up to Ben Lomond's summit is an out-and-back day hike with views that are arguably more rewarding than some of those you get on New Zealand's Great Walks. You can take the Skyline gondola part way up if you want to shorten the climb, but I usually start at the small signposted carpark on Lomond Crescent and take the 4-WD track up the first stretch. It's supposedly a 6-8 hour hike to the summit, but it's possible to get to the summit and down again in under 4 hours if you're speedy. The track is well defined and family-friendly, but it's completely uphill and rather exposed until you reach the summit.You start off walking through native Beech forest and invasive wilding pines, and then at about 800 meters you get above the tree line and alpine tussocks dominate the landscape. About 3/4 of the way up you reach a bench at the Ben Lomond Saddle and get your first glimpse of the Southern Alps on the backside of Ben Lomond. Many people call it a day once they get there, but climbing the final stretch to the summit is incredibly worthwhile since you get 360-degree views of the Lake Wakatipu Basin and Southern Alps. You'll see Moke Lake below and Mount Aspriring in the distance, as well as Mount Earnslaw and the Shotover river, views of downtown Queenstown and all the way out towards the Remarkables and Kawarau river, and on and on and on....
The Ben Lomond track also connects to the Moonlight Track at the saddle, so you can take that track down to Arthur's Point if you want to avoid and out-and-back, but you would have to arrange a car drop because it would make the adventure a point-to-point. And if you're really ambitious, rather than taking the Moonlight Track out to Arthur's Point, you could take it to Moke Lake.
*More info on the other tracks can be found here: http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/otago/wakatipu-walks-brochure.pdf
- Comfortable hiking shoes and clothes
- Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a good hat
- Layers (especially windproof ones) for the top
- Picnic lunch and snacks, and lots of water
- Walking poles optional
- Track info can be found here: http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/otago/places/queenstown-area/things-to-do/ben-lomond-track/
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Best easily accessible day hike from Queenstown
Apart from the amazing views the best thing is that you can start this hike straight from Queenstown town center and finish it off with a nice cold pint back in town. It is a very popular hike so expect crowds on any but rainy days (I did have the summit all to myself once but then again it was snowing up there). As a side note you can get snow at the summit even in the middle of summer so be prepared for quick changes. If you want a bit of challenge and avoid the crowds for a spell on the way down you can take the less used ridge route. After the saddle when the track deviates from the ridge line (at Pt. 1049) just keep on the ridge and it will take you all the way down to the gondola. It is not a marked path but it is well-trodden.
A must-do hike in Queenstown
My wife and I were only travelling through Queenstown for a few days, but summiting Ben Lomond was the first thing on our agenda and the highlight of our trip! The hike is fairly grueling, and it compares with many 14er hikes in my native state of Colorado. The views of Queenstown, The Remarkables, and Lake Wakatipu at the top are jaw-dropping and rewarding. Make sure you do this hike!
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