Queenstown is without a doubt my highlight of New Zealand. Queenstown, if you don’t already know, is a town situated in the south-west of the South Island which sits of the shore of Lake Wakatipu. Amongst many other attractions and reasons to love it (which you can see in my QT backpackers guide here), Queenstown is also home to some of the most beautiful hikes in the world. If you’re planning a visit, you want to make sure you have your hiking boots packed. From afternoon strolls and day hikes to week long adventures, there’s something to suit every ability and you’ll be soaking up some of the most breathtaking landscapes you’ll ever experience.
Seriously. There aren’t many places that have taken my breath like Queenstown.
I’ve backpacked New Zealand on two occasions now: the first time I discovered the South Island, and the second time (with the tourism board) I uncovered the North.
I craved Queenstown that much on the second trip, I booked myself a birthday weekend down there and flew from Auckland!
Over the years I’ve created sooo much content on New Zealand to share with you, including guides on budgeting for backpacking New Zealand, saving money when travelling New Zealand, all my top tips, and 10 reasons why New Zealand should be your next destination.
So if you’re planning your Kiwi adventure, head to the link below to uncover all my travel guides!
Without further ado…
Here are 8 of the best hikes in Queenstown, New Zealand…
1. Queenstown Hill
Treat yourself to views across the city and Lake Wakatipu on this uphill walk in Queenstown to the summit of Te Tapu-nui…
Time: 60-90 mins each way (depending on how fast you walk, which route you take, and how many photo stops you have – it took me 60 mins up and 60 mins down)
Distance: 1.5-2.5km each way (again, depending on which route you take)
Gradient: moderate (500m elevation – steep in places but mainly ok!)
Starting point: Car Park just off Belfast Terrace, 9300
2. Sunshine Bay track
An easier, scenic route for that day you just want to take it easy and enjoy the sea! I actually cycled this route and it’s one of the best hikes in Queenstown for walkers, cyclists and runners alike! Follow the coast round and take in the views.
Time: 30 mins – 1 hour each way
Distance: 4-5km each way
Gradient: easy-moderate (a couple of uphill bits but nothing too challenging)
Starting point: Queenstown city centre
2. Tiki Trail
An extremely chilled out hike in Queenstown! Starting from the bottom of the gondola, hike up towards the lookout, take some snaps, and then either hike or take the gondola back down.
Time: 60-90 mins each way
Distance: 1.6km each way
Gradient: moderate (300m elevation gain)
Starting point: Behind the gondola on Brecon Street.
4. Ben Lomond
One step up from the Tiki Trail (excuse the pun), we are now heading for Ben Lomond’s 1748m summit! This is one of the best day hikes in Queenstown. Expect beautiful views across the city and of Mt Earnslaw and Mt Aspiring when the weather is clear.
Time: 1 hour (bottom > gondola) + 2 hours (gondola to saddle) + 1 hour (saddle > summit)… so 2-4 hours each way, depending on where you start and how far up you go! (although some people say it can take longer to get to the summit!)
Distance: bottom to summit – approx 8km each way
Gradient: steep/ challenging (approx 1000m elevation from the gondola, 1400m from Brecon St)
Starting point: Brecon Street at the gondola base, or Bob’s Peak (the top of the gondola)
5. Lake Hayes
One of the most popular day hikes in Queenstown, and one of the most picturesque – you definitely don’t want to miss the beautiful views and the stunning reflections as you complete the circuit round one of New Zealand’s most photographed lakes. Why not stop off to do wine tasting at Amisfield Winery and Bistro as your walk round?
Time: 1-2 hour loop
Distance: 8km loop
Starting point: anywhere on the lake!
6. Queenstown Gardens to Frankton
Explore the gardens for as long as your heart desires, and then follow the coast around again, this time east, towards Frankton.
Time: 1-2 hours each way
Distance: 7.5km each way
Starting point: Queenstown Gardens
If you have more than a day to play with and you fancy a bigger hiking challenge, consider these two hikes near Queenstown…
7. Routeburn Track
Time: 2-4 days
Crossing the Southern Alps and linking two National Parks – Mt Aspiring and Fiordland – take in ice-carved valleys, wetlands, forest, lakes and breathtaking Fiordland views.
Start at the eastern trailhead, beyond Glenorchy, (two hours’ drive from Queenstown); the finish is at the Divide on the Te Anau–Milford Highway (four hours to Queenstown). One way and return can be done by shuttle.
The Routeburn can also be joined with either the Greenstone – Caples Tracks (below) to make a near-loop back to Lake Wakatipu.
8. Greenstone – Caples Track
Time: 4 days
Two World Heritage valleys, mountain views, saddles between mountains, forest, grassy hills, rivers… this loop has it all.
Start near the shore of Lake Wakatipu, beyond Glenorchy (two hours’ drive from Queenstown, can be done by shuttle).
For more long hike inspiration, click here.
Bonus! New Zealand’s most popular cycling trail…
3-5 days. 152 km. Clyde to Middlemarch. Some of the best views you’ll ever experience. Definitely not one any avid cyclists want to miss!
Shuttles go from Queenstown to Clyde twice a day, making this the perfect extension to your Queenstown holiday!
Looking for more tips and tricks for backpacking New Zealand? Check out my video below…
Have you been on a hike in Queenstown?
What was your favourite walk? I’d love to know!
Love as always + happy adventuring,