Queenstown, the beautiful town in the South Island, New Zealand, is quite a sight to behold.
From the stunning Lake Wakatipu to the views of the Southern Alps, there’s so much natural beauty to explore. One of the best ways to do so is along the Queenstown Hill Walkway.
The Queenstown Hill hike was one of the best experiences on our New Zealand itinerary. The mild exercise got our blood pumping while we marvelled at the gorgeous views along the route.
It’s an awesome hike that allows you to enjoy a sweeping view over the city, but also over the surrounding mountain tops.
In this guide you will find everything you need to know about hiking Queenstown Hill, from hike specifications to where to stay in Queenstown.
Read on to plan your Queenstown Hill hike!
- 1 Overview of Queenstown Hill
- 2 Places to stay near Queenstown Hill
- 3 How to Get to Queenstown Hill Track
- 4 How long does it take to hike Queenstown Hill?
- 5 What to expect on the Queenstown Hill route
- 6 Best time to visit Queenstown Hill
- 7 Queenstown Hill weather
- 8 What to bring when on a Queenstown Hill hike
- 9 Is Queenstown Hill worth it?
Overview of Queenstown Hill
Before we dive into the juicy details, here’s a basic overview of what you need to know:
- Distance – Route to the Basket of Dreams sculpture is 1.7 – 2 kilometres, and then there is an additional 0.5 kilometres to the Queenstown Hill lookout
- Walking time – 1.5 – 3 hours
- Difficulty – Moderate to challenging
- Best time to visit – All year round
- Best for – Nature lovers who enjoy getting their heart rate up
- Is it worth it? – Most definitely!
This guide will help you get to the start of the hike and enjoy the experience on your own. But if you want a local guide then there are a few options to choose from.
Places to stay near Queenstown Hill
The lower levels of the beautiful hill are home to locals and offer places to stay for tourists. Choosing a spot to stay near the start of the hike will make the experience a lot easier – and the early wake up a little bit more bearable.
Budget – We stayed at Nomads Queenstown Backpackers which is a short 1.4 kilometres from the start of the track. The relaxed, social setting and comfortable rooms offer you everything that you need without breaking the bank.
Mid-Range – A short 900 meters from the Queenstown Hill walking track is the Mi-Pad Smart Hotel. Boasting breathtaking 360° views of the surrounding nature.
The rooms are stylishly decorated with a fully kitted ensuite bathroom for your convenience and privacy.
Luxury – A short distance from the trail is the plush QT Queenstown. The views of the lake and mountains are incomparable, and every feature of the room (and bathroom) exude luxury.
How to Get to Queenstown Hill Track
The sign to the Queenstown Walkway is located to the side of the Belfast Terrace parking lot.
To reach the parking lot from the city centre, you need to drive along Frankton Road until you turn into Dublin Street just outside the centre.
- Continue on Dublin Street until you see Edinburgh Drive on your right
- Make the turn into Edinburgh Drive
- Follow the road until you reach a sharp intersection and turn left
- Your last left turn will find you in Belfast Terrace – the parking lot will be located on your right
How long does it take to hike Queenstown Hill?
Although the distance of the Queenstown Hill walking track doesn’t seem too intimidating, the route is fairly elevated (600 metres in total).
The hike to the summit will take you approximately two hours at a steady pace. Although, I’d suggest you add on a few minutes to stop and take in the views.
What to expect on the Queenstown Hill route
The start of the route is quite steep and continues to climb until the summit. We took the steep route up, which meanders through the trees.
On the way down, we took the more gradual path which is extra scenic. If we had to do it again, we’d definitely follow the same route.
On the hike, you can expect views of Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables, Cecil Peak and Walter Peak. It’s hard to believe that so much natural wonder can be in one place.
Best time to visit Queenstown Hill
The hill is surrounded by a fantastic demonstration of natural beauty all year round, making it an activity to enjoy regardless of the season.
In summer, the trees smell of fresh pine, in spring the flowers bloom. In autumn the leaves start to turn, and in winter the snow-capped mountains are a sight to behold.
However, if you do visit in the winter, make sure that you watch out for snow on the hill which can get slippery and wet.
Another great time to hike the hill is for sunrise or sunset. The beauty of the view increases ten-fold and is worth the extra weight that the flashlight takes up in your backpack.
Queenstown Hill weather
The resort town in Otago has a relatively moderate altitude surrounded by high mountains. As a result, it has an oceanic climate meaning that summer has long warm days, and winters experience frequent snowfall.
There is seldom permanent snow cover during the year, although the summit of the hill can receive a bit of the snowfall.
What to bring when on a Queenstown Hill hike
The trail is very well marked. The many feet that have walked the gravel and rock path make the route easy to complete without heavy-duty hiking shoes.
Regardless, there are a few items that you’d want to include on this adventure;
- A bottle of water – especially during the summer months to avoid dehydration
- Wear comfortable exercise gear
- A sun hat to protect yourself from the heat
- In winter, wear waterproof hiking boots
- An easy-to-carry, fully-charged camera
- A reliable flashlight when hiking around sunrise or sunset
- A lightweight jacket in case the temperature drops
Is Queenstown Hill worth it?
Queenstown Hill is, without a doubt, one of the best hikes in New Zealand. The view from the top alone is worth the elevated heart rate. The mountains that surround the area are spectacular.
If given the opportunity, walk through the Douglas Fir Forest on the way up and take a slow stroll down the gentle gradient on the way back. This way, you can take in sweeping views of Queenstown and the lake.
Overall, Queenstown Hill is a sensual experience. The views, the smell and the sounds will stay in your memories forever.
Just the previous day we had hiked the Tiki Trail, also in Queenstown, but found Queenstown Hill to be much better (and not just because we hiked the Tiki Trail on a cloudy day and couldn’t see anything).
The view over Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown might not be towering right above it, but the 360 view with the other mountains makes it more interesting for me.
Final thoughts on hiking Queenstown Hill
We spent seven days in New Zealand, doing a different hike pretty much every day. Queenstown Hill hike was one of my favourites.
The fairly easy hike, paired to the stunning views, make it well worth the effort. No matter how long you spend in Queenstown, this hike a must on any Queenstown itinerary.
I hope you find this guide useful in planning your Queenstown Hill hike!
Looking for more Queenstown and New Zealand tips? Check out these travel guides:
- The best Queenstown to Milford Sound day tours
- Everything you need to know about hiking Roy’s Peak
- Ultimate guide to hiking Hooker Valley Track
- What you need to know about hiking Mt John Summit Track
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