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Ben Lomond day hike

Ben Lomond (45°00'24.06" south 168°36'54.76" east) is an attractive mountain that looms up behind Queenstown, reaching an altitude of 1748 metres (5735 feet). Whilst it looks rugged and could comfortably sit next to any other, larger mountain in the Southern Alps, its particular appeal is that you can reach the summit without any technical knowledge (unless there is deep or fresh snow on the track).

Best time to hike Ben Lomond

People do hike the peak all year round, but the nicest and easiest time to hike Ben Lomond is during the summer months, from around the beginning of November through until the end of March. During the summer, it's best to set off early during the cooler, early morning hours as the second half of the climb is above the tree line so the sun can make the hike a warm one.

Hiking Ben Lomond: the gondola route (2-3 hours return)

There are two main ways to tackle this peak. You can take the gentler option and grab a scenic ride up the Skyline Gondola, saving yourself a 450 metre (1476 feet) climb up a series of switchbacks in the mostly pine forest like on our 'Manuka' trip, or you can hike from Queenstown like on our 'Tui' trip the way the locals usually do it.

Hiking Ben Lomond from Queenstown: the longer route (4-6 hours return)

For those hiking from Queenstown, there are three places to start the hike: from the end of Thompson Street, or from the One Mile Power House on the road to Fernhill, or from a track that starts near the gondola terminal. From the first two options, about thirty minutes into the climb you'll pass an impressive concrete dam, which is now derelict but speaks to a former period of hydro-electrical pioneering. From there, the track continues to wind steeply up through the pine forest crossing the occasional downhill mountain bike track and one small clearing, which marks the midway point for the gondola. After approximately another hour through pleasant, cool forest, the track breaks out onto scrub and tussock and you'll get your first uninterrupted view of Ben Lomond in all its glory. Shortly after this, you'll pass the track leading from the top of the gondola and you'll probably see some fresh-faced hikers that have chosen the more relaxed option!

ben lomond

From there the path is the same for everyone and it's a reasonably gentle uphill climb under the sun to the saddle at 1300 metres (4265 feet). There's a nice bench here to sit and take a rest or have a snack. The last part of the hike climbs steeply and is rocky in places, zig-zagging a few times before curving around the back of the peak before summiting quite abruptly. Be careful on this section as there are some loose rocks and slippery tussocks.

From the top, you'll hopefully have clear views across Lake Wakatipu to the Remarkables mountain range and down to Queenstown. Moke Lake is visible far down below and the Southern Alps stretch off into the distance to the northeast. Don't worry if you don't know these landmarks as there is a dial erected pointing to all the main points of interest. If it's a crystal-clear day, you may like to lounge around up top for a long while as the views are simply incredible.

Keep in mind that the weather can change quickly and it's not uncommon to see a dusting of snow on Ben Lomond at any time of year!

Although this is only a day hike, it's important to carefully check the weather and pack accordingly. Check out our packing guide to day hikes for some handy hints.

 

 

 

Trip Reviews

  •   4.60 out of 5 (from 1887 reviews)

    Feb 12 2017 Tui with Greg and Melissa

    The weather slowed us down on the first couple of days. But after that it was an amazing experience. The views, the activities and the guides made it easy. Coordinating the activities, transportation, food, etc.
    Ross Gough Review Image
    – California, United States
    Tui, March 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    What an adventure!

    Great adventure with wonderful guides Alex and Tia!
    Stephanie Eskuri Review Image
    – Michigan, United States
    Rimu, January 2017
  •   4.60 out of 5 (from 1887 reviews)

    Tui Adventure

    This trip was all I had hoped for and then some. I expected beautiful scenery and exciting activities, but I did not expect the personal touch from our guides. One of the group members mentioned chips and salsa... that night we had chips and salsa to go with our appetizers. They knew I love birds, so I was introduced to every bird possible - along with descriptions of the birds’ personalities and habits. There seemed to be no end to Dani and Emma’s knowledge about New Zealand and that made a huge impact on our trip! We all felt like family by the end of the week, and for a person traveling alone, that is a wonderful gift!
    Janet Slover Review Image
    – Texas, United States
    Tui, March 2018
  •   4.38 out of 5 (from 1211 reviews)

    Even Cyclone Cook couldn't dampen our fun

    I hopped onto the last half of the Kauri after two weeks on the South Island in the Rimu adventure. It just so happened that we had a cyclone hit the island that week, so everything was very wet, to say the least. But everything still worked out okay! We still did lots of hiking in the rain, which was fun in itself. The views were not the same as they would be on a clear day, but different doesn't mean bad. They were unique, and there were a lot of rainbows thanks to the water. We even did the mountain biking in the downpour, which was hilariously muddy and still a lot of fun. Overall, the people were good, the guides were excellent, the food was fantastic, and the trip was terrific.
    Janine Carbone Review Image
    – New Hampshire, United States
    Kauri, April 2017
  •   4.60 out of 5 (from 1887 reviews)

    Exceeding expectations and more!

    We had been planning this trip for about a year and I had been dreaming about this trip for about 7 years, therefore the expectations were high. Active Adventures did an excellent job and our guides Kuru and Liana made this a trip of a lifetime. The most amazing part is that they always were one step ahead of planning the next meal, hike, bike or even maneuvering around the NZ wild weather. All the planning ahead and adjusting on the fly would normally turn a trip to be very stressful but we were able to sit back and relax (not literally because it was very active) and truly enjoy the beautiful landscape and everything NZ had to offer. Truly the trip of a lifetime!
    Ryan Hussey Review Image
    – New Hampshire, United States
    Tui, December 2016

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