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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

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16032 reviews)

    Wonderful Manuka Trip With Active Adventures, New Zealand

    Hi, I'm back home in the USA after my Manuka adventure with Active Adventures, New Zealand. I would like to compliment everyone in your company that I came in contact with....from my initial contact with Fiona to my pre-trip emails with Lynette everything was handled with complete professionalism. This was my first adventure with your company but I'm pretty sure that it will not be my last.
    Everything during the trip went forward in a very efficient manner. I was amazed at the energy level and efficiency of our guides Amanda and Holly. The amount of work that they were able to accomplish during the course of a day, their energy levels and very positive attitudes made the trip enjoyable for all of us clients. Also, their knowledge of their country and their willingness to share made the trip even more enjoyable for me.
    Again, thank you to all and especially to Amanda and Holly....I really enjoyed my first visit to New Zealand.
    Jerry Jobski Review Image
    – Arizona, United States
    Manuka, April 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16032 reviews)

    South Island Sampling

    Despite starting the trip with a little rattle and shake (earthquake) the trip was a wonderful experience. We saw so much of the South Island and were able to enjoy the beauty of a sunny day as well as a cloudy one. Greg and Clara were amazing guides and took great care of us.
    Beth Wilson Review Image
    – Georgia, United States
    Manuka, December 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16032 reviews)

    Tui Trip

    The Tui tour was the best trip I've ever had, all the group was great and very friendly, there was a very good feeling with all the group. It was so great to see all the nice places that you have in NZ, the tour passed so fast that I would love to do another one with you guys! And what about the super guides that we had - Jordy and Holly! They are the best ever, I would like to thank them again so much for the great time we had with them, I'm ready to do more! Holly next time we'll do the swimming race in the lake? Thanks a lot again, Ia orana from Tahiti.
    Peva Levy Review Image
    – tahiti teahupoo, French Polynesia
    Tui, May 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16032 reviews)

    Professionalism and Exceptionalism Beyond Expectations!

    Our recent Tui trip of the South Island was absolutely the trip of a lifetime and more than I could have ever hoped for! As a very seasoned, frugal, independent, tour-averse traveller, signing up and spending the money for this trip was a bit out of character for me. However, that being said, this was probably the best travel investment I have ever made in my life! We packed so many amazing adventures into eight days, with the kindest most knowledgeable and most professional guides ever, that I seriously doubt I could have recreated it on my own. I cannot recommend Active Adventures and our guides Claire and Rachael highly enough and am already looking forward to and planning my next adventure this year with them!
    Chris Gan Review Image
    – Washington, United States
    Tui, January 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16032 reviews)

    2017 Manuka

    Went into the trip not knowing what to expect. Took the trip solo. Was hesitant on taking a guided tour. Felt like i wouldn't have the freedom to do things at my own speed. Not the case at all! Had virtually no restrictions on the hikes. Amanda and Holly let us move at our own paces. Overall trip was a blast! Couldn't have wished for more. Great hikes, great food, good sleeping accommodations, hard charging guides, everything was taken care of, didn't have to lift a finger. I will be back.
    Dan Baker Review Image
    – APO/FPO AP, United States
    Manuka, May 2017

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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