The Ben Lomond track is undoubtedly the best day hike in Queenstown! Easily accessible from the town’s center, you can hike to Ben Lomond summit which is 1,748 meters in height. With breathtaking views all along the hike and an epic 360 view at the top, we highly recommend Ben Lomond track over Queenstown Hill walk. However, the out-and-back Ben Lomond track is much heavier with an elevation gain of 1438 meters over 14 kilometres. But, there are several ways to hike Ben Lomond that can wipe 3 kilometers off the trail distance and almost 450 meters off of the elevation. So the question is, how long or short do you want to hike? In this complete guide you’ll find all the information you need to know about Ben Lomond track and the different options to do this hike from Queenstown.
Where is Ben Lomond located?
Ben Lomond Mountain is situated near Queenstown on the South Island of New Zealand. It’s a prominent peak in the Ben Lomond Scenic Reserve, offering panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables mountain range, and the surrounding Southern Alps. The trailhead for hiking up Ben Lomond is easily accessible from Queenstown, and therefore one of the popular day hikes in Queenstown.
How hard is Ben Lomond Track?
Ben Lomond Track is a moderately challenging hiking trail. The difficulty level can vary based on your fitness level and experience with hiking. The track is well-maintained, but it involves a steady uphill climb, and in some sections, the terrain can be steep and rocky.
You should be prepared for changes in weather conditions, as the trail passes through different vegetation zones, from forested areas to alpine terrain. So wear layers that you can easily take off and put back on once you’re at the summit. Wear sturdy hiking boots, carry enough water, and be aware of weather forecasts before attempting the hike. While it’s not the easiest trail, you will find the effort worthwhile for the breathtaking views from the summit.
Ben Lomond hike key facts
Before you set off for the Ben Lomond hike, below are some key facts! It’s important to know that there are two different ways to get up to Bob’s Peak where the trailhead of Ben Lomond is, all depending on how long, or short you want the hike to be.
Hike distance and duration: If you start the Ben Lomond Track from Queenstown centre you will head up to Bob’s Peak first via the Tiki trail. This version is 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) long out and back and will take about 8 hours in total.
If you choose to start the hike from Bob’s Peak and take the gondola up, the total distance is 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) return and will take you about 6 hours in total.
Difficulty and incline: How difficult or easy a hike feels is quite personal, it all depends on what your experience is and how fit you are at that moment. Overall, I think the Ben Lomond Track can be classified as moderate with some technical parts towards the summit. When you add the Tiki trail to your Ben Lomond hike, the total elevation gain is 1,483 meters (4,865 feet). When you start hiking Ben Lomond from the trailhead at Bob’s Peak after taking the gondola up, the total elevation gain is 1,033 meters (3,389 feet).
Until Ben Lomond saddle (the flat part before the actual peak), the hike has a very gradual incline. But after Ben Lomond saddle, the steep climb to the summit starts.
- Fun fact: In case you have no idea what ‘saddle’ means in terms of hiking, picture a horse saddle. In between the seat there are two higher parts at the front and backside. So the saddle basically means the area before the actual summit of the hike!
Where does Ben Lomond Track start?
The trailhead of Ben Lomond track starts from Bob’s Peak, which is where the gondola takes you from Queenstown Center. You can’t drive up Bob’s Peak, but instead of taking the gondola up, you can also hike up Bob’s Peak via the Tiki trail which goes up along the gondola rail.
So the real question here is, do you want the Ben Lomond track to be 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) return from Queenstown via the Tiki trail, or 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) return from the top of the gondola?
Hiking Ben Lomond track from Bob’s Peak including Skyline gondola
If you want to combine Ben Lomond hike with some of the fun things to do in Queenstown, then taking the gondola up to the trailhead at Bob’s Peak is a great idea. This cuts off 3 kilometers and 450 meters of elevation gain of the hike which comes down to 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) with an elevation gain of 1,033 meters (3,281 feet) return. The gondola costs NZD 46 for adults and NZD 32 for children to return. You can eventually upgrade this ticket with a fun luge ride which is a downhill three-wheel cart or buy the combo ticket which includes the gondola and lunch or dinner in Stratosfare restaurant at Bob’s Peak. You can buy these tickets online or directly at the gondola ticket office.
Once you arrive at the top of the gondola rail you will find the Ben Lomond trailhead signposted. You have to follow the stairs up along the luge track until you see the official trailhead sign with the orange arrow. The first bits of the hike go through the forest, but you will soon enough get out of the tree line and see the amazing views of Ben Lomond mountain in front of you.
Hiking Ben Lomond track via the Tiki trail
If you want to have a warm-up before you begin the actual Ben Lomond Track and skip the gondola ride, then you can access Bob’s Peak via the Tiki trail. This 1.5-kilometer (1 mile) trail through the pine forest has 450 meters (1,476 feet) incline which takes about an hour to 1,5 hours to get up to. The Tiki trail starts at the end of Brecon Street next to the gondola rail and is easy to follow.
Other options to start the Ben Lomond hike are via the Skyline access road or One Mile Creek parking lot. However, both are not recommended as the Skyline access road is just a boring gravel road that is used to bring supplies to the restaurant at Bob’s Peak. Besides that, it takes much longer than the Tiki trail. From One Mile Creek you can also get to the Ben Lomond track. However, this trail can be confusing because it isn’t signposted well and crosses lots of other hiking trails and mountain biking tracks.
Where to park for Ben Lomond Track
Parking your car in Queenstown can be a bit of a hassle, especially in high season. If you’re staying in the center, the best way to get to Ben Lomond trailhead is either by hiking via the Tiki trail or taking the gondola up to Bob’s Peak. There is parking near the gondola office, however this is limited to only 4 hours. You can park in the residential streets such as Man Street, or use the paid parking spots or parking garage.
What is the best time and season to hike the Ben Lomond track?
The Ben Lomond track is open year-round, however, you should take your own hiking experience into account before hiking Ben Lomond Mountain in New Zealand’s winter. Anywhere from May to November you’re able to not only see snow in this area, but also walk through it. Winter definitely makes the Ben Lomond hike more challenging and in some cases even impossible. You will need crampons to hike safely and have alpine experience.
On the other hand, in the summer months it might get super hot in the mountains and there is no coverage of trees for shade. So before setting off to hike Ben Lomond, you will have to prepare yourself with the right gear, depending on the season.
We hiked Ben Lomond in early spring and had great clear skies and a little bit of snow at the summit. Of course you want to have clear views over Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains, so check the weather forecast before you go. Rain and wind will make this hike extra challenging and definitely less fun. You won’t see any view either, so make sure to pick the right day to do this hike.
Ben Lomond Track trail description
Right from the start of Ben Lomond Track you are treated to amazing views. And as always, the higher you climb, the better the views get! The first few minutes after the trailhead are through pine forest, but soon enough you’ll get to the open area of tussock grass and impressive mountain views.
The trail climbs gradually with some stairs at the steeper parts. Don’t be surprised if you see a goat along the way, they live in this area and won’t bother you. As you’re walking with your back towards the lake you will look at the mountain you’re about the hike. But don’t forget to sometimes look over your shoulder because the views are starting to get better and better from this point!
Ben Lomond saddle viewpoint
After the stairs you’ve made it to Ben Lomond Saddle! Here you might feel the wind picking up and eventually see some snow. There is a fantastic viewpoint on a steady rock which can be a great photo spot. Here we had a short break with food and drinks before making our way further up the mountain to the summit.
The trail is very easy to follow and well-marked. However, as soon as you enter the trail that goes straight up to the summit, you will see a sign that says ‘track not maintained past this point’. This doesn’t mean it gets too risky, but just be prepared for some rock scrambling here and there. Also, after a rainy day, you can get some small mud streams here. Just be cautious of loose rocks and eventually use hiking poles for your stability.
No matter how careful you are, accidents can happen.
A slip during hiking is made before you realize it, and the consequences can be bigger than you want to think of.
We are very happy with SafetyWing and highly recommend getting an insurance with them!
Approaching Ben Lomond Summit
From Ben Lomond saddle until the summit, it takes about an hour to hike up the last 1,5 kilometers. At this point, we encountered the first snow during the hike, but luckily we could continue without crampons. The path was a bit slippery, but nothing to worry about.
As the views are getting better and better, you will now also see the impressive mountain range appearing on your right side. It’s truly mesmerizing to see how the textures of these mountains have been created throughout millions of years. Together with the surrounding snow-capped mountain peaks it gave such an unreal feeling for us. This is the reason why we came to New Zealand, for these unbeatable mountain and lake views!
When you get closer to the summit, the path will slowly change into more rocky terrain. As you look back to where you came from, you can see the path winding down the mountain. Just a few more steps and rocks you’ll have to conquer and you’re at Ben Lomond summit!
At Ben Lomond Summit is enough space to put your day packs down and walk around. There are some great vantage points to take pictures, so make sure to snap a few shots from every angle! It started to snow when we reached the summit, so we cooled off very quickly. Therefore we didn’t stay for too long at the summit as we didn’t want to risk ending up in a snowstorm on the way down. Nevertheless, it was an unforgettable experience. Thanks to the hiker who pressed the shutter button on our camera we have this great memory of us two at Ben Lomond summit!
More Queenstown hikes
There are many more amazing hikes in Queenstown which we strongly recommend adding to your list. Our favorite Queenstown hike was the Ben Lomond Track with incredible views at the summit. However, there are many more Queenstown hikes which are totally worth it!
Other great hikes in and near Queenstown are the following.
- Queenstown Hill hike
- Moke Lake loop track & viewpoint
- Bob’s Cove nature walk
- Lake Alta
- Lake Dispute
- Moonlight Track
- Tiki Trail
Must do tours in Queenstown
Queenstown is the heart of adventure activities, wine tours and is a great base to explore some other places in the South Island. Here are some tours I strongly recommend doing while you’re based in Queenstown.
A must-do in New Zealand is taking a helicopter flight. With this helicopter tour from Queenstown you will fly 20 minutes so you can see Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps. The flight includes an alpine landing in the Remarkables and informative commentary from the pilot. Make sure to book in advance to secure your seat, there helicopter flights are super popular!
This activity is soo cool and I can recommend it strongly. If you love a bit of thrill and adrenaline then jet boating is definitely a must-do in Queenstown. The very skilled driver skims the Jet Boat at 100km per hour through the narrow canyon with 360-degree spins now and then. Guaranteed laughs! Make sure to secure your seat for the jet boat a few days in advance as the boats fill up very fast!
Go on a journey through the verdant valleys and vine-clad foothills rich in gold mining history and visit some incredible boutique wineries. Enjoy a winery lunch consisting of several tasting dishes each perfectly matched by the Chief Winemaker and Head Chef, using estate wines and fresh local produce.
If you want to explore the best of Milford Sound from Queenstown then this tour is for you! There are two options to do this tour.
Option one is by coach from Queenstown to the west coast of Fiordland National Park. During this day tour you will stop at several impressive viewpoints and do the Milford Sound cruise.
Option two is a scenic flight from Queenstown to Milford Sound, including the Milford Sound cruise and a different flight path back to Queenstown. This is the ultimate Milford Sound experience!
How to get around in New Zealand
To experience New Zealand to the fullest and at your own pace, renting a car, campervan or motorhome is the best way to get around. Which one of these options you choose depends on your preference and budget. If you love camping, being outdoors all day and you don’t mind a smaller living space, then renting a camper van is the way to go. It also gives you the freedom to sleep at some of the most beautiful camping spots, but for some of them you’ll have to make a reservation and plan your trip accordingly. The same goes for a motorhome which is bigger than a campervan and fits about 4-6 people. Here’s what you need to know about renting a car, camper van or motorhome in New Zealand.
Car rental in New Zealand
Renting a car in New Zealand is the easiest and cheapest rental vehicle available. It will get you to all the best destinations with ease and gives you the freedom to stop for a break wherever you want. However, you should keep in mind that some roads in New Zealand are still gravel or that you have to cross shallow rivers to some destinations in National Parks. Therefore we recommend a mini SUV or SUV model to have enough clearance for this kind of roads. We rented for 6 weeks a Mitsubishi ASX model and were super happy with this car!
The best place to book your rental car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare different car models, prices, companies and terms and conditions. You can also check Rental Cars to compare at which platform you can get the best deal. Make sure to secure the booking of your rental car as soon as possible to have the lowest price possible. Prices go up the closer you get to the pickup date.
Campervan rental in New Zealand
Traveling around in a campervan is one of the most popular ways for a road trip in New Zealand. With a bed, small kitchen and seating area you will have all the (basic) needs on four wheels. Make sure to check if your campervan has a shower or not because this might influence where you want to camp. A campervan allows you to camp at plenty of beautiful places, sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee. It will give you a true feeling of freedom and connects you fully with nature.
We recommend to book your campervan with Travellers Autobarn as they have a wide range of Station wagons, 2-berth campervans & 3-5 berth campervans to hire for all budgets. All Travellers Autobarn campervan hires in New Zealand come with free unlimited kilometers, a 10% discount to premium campgrounds, 24/7 roadside assistance & long-term rental discounts. Check the availability and prices today to secure your campervan for a New Zealand dream road trip!
Where to stay in Queenstown
As with everything in Queenstown, tours, restaurants and accommodations fill up fast. So to find a great place to stay in Queenstown it is highly recommended to book your preferred accommodation (far) in advance to secure your room. You can always cancel your reservation until a certain date, so don’t wait too long to book your accommodation in Queenstown.
There is a wide variety of options in Queenstown for every budget. From dorm rooms to super luxury hotels and self-contained apartments. Here are our top recommendations.
Luxury stay in Queenstown
The Carlin Boutique Hotel is a 5-star accommodation with very luxury suites overlooking Lake Wakatipu. Some of the rooms even have a private hot tub! With a restaurant, free bikes, a fitness center and a bar you can fully immerse yourself in luxury and the incredible views of Queenstown, the lake and surrounding mountains.
Mid Luxury stay in Queenstown
Just a little bit out of the city centre you will find this stunning Lakeview hotel. Each room features contemporary decor, premium beds and an outdoor seating area. Only a selection of rooms includes unobstructed lake and mountain views. Their restaurant The Nest offers unique creations and delicious foraged herbs, seeds and wild ingredients. Even if you’re not staying at Kamana Lakehouse it is worth it to try their restaurant!
Budget stay in Queenstown
The Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park has studios with private bathrooms and self-contained cabins with kitchenettes. It is a family-friendly property with kids’ playground and is close to everything you need in town!
More New Zealand travel guides
I hope you enjoyed this complete guide about the Ben Lomond track in Queenstown. Make sure to put this hike on your list when you’re staying in Queenstown!
New Zealand’s South Island is full of many more amazing hikes and things to do. So if you’re looking for more inspiration and ideas, head over to our other New Zealand travel guides.