ben-lomond-track-summit

The Ben Lomond track is without a doubt the best day hike in Queenstown! Easily accessible from the town’s centre, you can hike all the way to Ben Lomond summit which is 1,748 metres high. 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 kilometres off the trail distance and almost 450 meters off of the elevation. So the question really 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. 

Ben Lomond hike key facts

Before you set off for the Ben Lomond hike, below 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 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 back side. So the saddle basically means the area before the actual summit of the hike! 
ben-lomond-saddle-lakeview

How to get to Ben Lomond track 

The trailhead of Ben Lomond track starts from Bob’s Peak, which is where the gondola takes you from Queenstown centre. 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 kilometres and 450 meters 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 $46 NZD for adults and $32 for children return. You can eventually upgrade this ticket with a fun luge ride which is a downhill three-wheel cart or a 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. 

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Stunning views on Queenstown from the gondola up to Bob’s Peak

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 thought 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. 

trailhead-ben-lomond

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 with that 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 hour 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 much recommend as the Skyline access road is just a boring gravel road which 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.

Car parking in Queenstown 

Keep in mind that parking your car in Queenstown can be a bit of a hassle, especially in high season. If you’re staying in the centre, the best way to get to either the Tiki trail or gondola is by walking from your accommodation. 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.

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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. 

snow

We had a little bit of snow on our way to the summit, but luckily didn’t need crampons

What to expect during the Ben Lomond track 

Right from the start of Ben Lomond Track you are treated with 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. 

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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!

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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. 

ben-lomond-viewpoint

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 scary, but just be prepared for some rock scrambling here and there. Also, after a rainy morning or rainy days, you can get some small mud streams here. Just be cautious of loose rocks and eventually use hiking poles for your stability. 

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sign-summit-trail

Approaching Ben Lomond Summit 

From Ben Lomond saddle until the summit it takes about an hour to hike up the last 1,5 kilometres. 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 at your right side. It’s truly mesmerising to see how the textures of these mountains have been created throughout millions of years, and with the 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! 

mountain-range

When you get closer to the summit, the path will slowly change into a 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!

ben-lomond-summit-path-

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 stayed for too long at the summit as we didn’t want to risk ending up in a snow storm on the way down. Nevertheless, it was an unforgettable experience and thanks to the hiker who pressed the shutter button on our camera we have this great memory of us two at Ben Lomond summit!

ben-lomond-summit

More Queenstown hikes 

There are many more amazing hikes in Queenstown which we strongly recommend to add to your list. Our favourite 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. 

moke-lake-viewpoint

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.

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!

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 with booking 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

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 centre and bar you can fully immerse yourself in luxury and the incredible views of Queenstown, the lake and surrounding mountains.

Book your stay at The Carlin Boutique Hotel in Queenstown here

Carlin-boutique-hotel

Mid Luxury stay in Queenstown

Kamana Lakehouse

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 include 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!

Book here your stay at Kamana Lakehouse Queenstown

Kamana-lakehouse-Queenstown

Budget stay in Queenstown

Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park

The Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park has studios with private bathrooms and self contained cabins with kitchenette. It is a family friendly property with kids playground and is close to everything you need in town!

Book here your stay at Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park

Holiday-park-queenstown

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.

Queenstown

Queenstown Hill walk – The Complete Guide

Moke Lake loop track & viewpoint – The Complete Guide