Public Holidays mean one thing to us - getting out into nature! If you're in Queenstown for the long weekend, make sure to check out the seven best local hikes, we've ranked them by difficulty.
Long weekends are so useful to decompress and reconnect to nature, and one of the top ways is by going on a hike! Big or small, any moment spent in nature will be worth your time, and if you're a particular enthusiast, you might find yourself in Queenstown, New Zealand. A paradise waiting to be explored!
Nestled among mountains and lakes, Queenstown offers heaps of day hikes that will be one for the books. From easy strolls to more challenging treks, the alpine town has something for hikers of all levels. In this article, we'll introduce you to seven of our favourite day hikes, and we've helped you out by ranking them from the easiest to the most challenging.
Photo: Krista May Perryman
Easy Queenstown Day Hikes
1. Twelve Mile Delta to Bob’s Cove
Length: 4 km Time: 1 - 2 hrs return Location: Car park on the Glenorchy-Queenstown road, 14 km from Queenstown
Bob’s Cove is a local's hideaway, with calm waters, quiet beaches and lush native forest, perfect for swimming and boating. The trail from Twelve Mile Delta offers a leisurely walk with a slight incline leading to a viewpoint overlooking Lake Wakatipu and Walter Peak where you might be able to spot the iconic red roofs of the old homestead! For fans of the Lord of the Rings, this hike is particularly special, as it served as a filming location for the Ithilien Camp. Along the trail, you'll encounter a historic lime kiln dating back to the 1800s, a testament to the region's rich history.
2. Moke Lake Loop Track
Length: 4.5 km Time: 2 - 3 hrs return Location: Moke Lake Campsite, 14 km from Queenstown
This popular walk meanders through grassland, surrounded by iconic Lakes District mountain scenery, before leading you to the secluded Moke Lake. While this loop track begins and ends at the same point, you can choose to continue your journey towards Arthurs Point on the Moonlight track or head to Lake Dispute. This walk doesn't have much tree cover, so in very sunny conditions make sure to pack a sun hat and sunscreen. However, the beautiful sunset over Moke Lake is an unmissable moment.
3. Lake Hayes Walkway
Length: 8 km return Time: 2 - 3 hrs return Location: Lake Hayes Pavilion, 13 km from Queenstown
Lake Hayes is a popular venue for events and weddings due to its stunning water and peaceful atmosphere. Only a short 15 min drive from town, the Lake Hayes Walkway is one of the most accessible day hikes in Queenstown. With several access points, you can opt for the full loop or just a shorter section, making it family-friendly and stroller-accessible. You could even cycle or run the loop if you're looking for something different. After your walk, some can be swayed to indulge in a wine tasting at a local winery like Amisfield, Stoneridge, and Mora Wines, all only a few minute's drive away.
Moderate Queenstown Day Hikes
1. Queenstown Hill
Length: 2.5 km return Time: 2 - 3 hrs return Location: Belfast Street
Length: 7.3 km Time: 2 - 4 hours return Location: Mt Crichton carpark on Glenorchy Road, 12 km from Queenstown
This family-friendly trail takes you past rivers, waterfalls, canyons, and an array of native plants. The Mt Crichton area has a rich history of gold mining, and you'll spot remnants, including a historic miner's tunnel cut into the rock with explosives and the old Sam Summer's Hut. This hike offers a varying mix of scenery and terrain, making it a fantastic day trip from Queenstown.
Challenging Queenstown Day Hikes
1. Tiki Trail - Bob’s Peak - Ben Lomond
Length: 14.3 km return Time: 6 - 8 hrs return Location: The top of Brecon Street
Starting centrally in Queenstown, the Tiki Trail takes you to Bob's Peak, alongside the gondola. The initial forested section leads to panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains. If you've still got fuel in the tank, continue to the Ben Lomond track to reach the 1,748m summit. Be prepared for a steeper and more technical climb as you approach the summit, which offers unparalleled views of the Remarkables, Lake Wakatipu, and the Southern Alps.
2. Lake Alta
Length: 1.9 km Time: 1 - 2 hrs return Location: The Remarkables ski field buildings, 24 km from Queenstown
Beginning at the base area of The Remarkables ski fields, this hike takes you along a dirt road to reach the rugged and steep track leading to Lake Alta. Fans of the Lord of the Rings will recognize this as Dimrill Dale, where the Fellowship exited the Mines of Moria. Lake Alta, a stunning glacial lake, is a haven during the summer months. Brave hikers may even opt for a refreshing swim in its glacially-clear waters.
These day hikes offer an incredible opportunity to experience Queenstown's natural beauty, whether you're a hiking novice or a seasoned trekker. As you become more comfortable with these trails, you might even consider tackling one of New Zealand's Great Walks.