With all the incredible mountains around Queenstown, it’s hard to pass up on the many stellar hikes on offer. Although Roys Peak and Ben Lomond are quintessential peaks close to town, there are some outstanding options in the greater area. Here’s a list of some of the best hikes around Queenstown.

 

Please note: From the longer day walks onwards, be aware that these hikes cannot be walked in winter without significant alpine experience. Always check in with DOC to make sure you know the conditions.

Short Day Hikes Near Queenstown

1. Moke Lake

Time from Queenstown: 20 minutes
Hike duration: 2-3 hour

Moke Lake is the perfect place to go if you’re after some wicked views, but only have a couple of hours, (or if you had a few too many beers the night before – extremely possible in Queenstown).

 

 

Even from the car park Moke Lake offers some incredible landscapes, and if you’re lucky enough to have no wind, you can witness some awesome reflections of the mountains from the lake.

Located off the road to Glenorchy, it’s an easy (but twisty) 20 minutes from Queenstown. Take a walk on the Moke Lake Loop Track which is a very chilled and flat two hours, or just chill at the car park with a picnic and maybe a floatie or two if it’s warm enough to swim.

2. Wye Creek

Time from Queenstown: 20 minutes
Hike duration: 2 hours return

Wye Creek is a relatively easy bush walk with awesome rewards that can be hiked anytime of the year. Leaving from Queenstown, head towards Jacks Point along Kingston Rd where you’ll find the car park and trailhead about 20 minutes from town – keep an eye out for a DOC sign and a closed gate. Drive up this track to the grass car park, or if you’re in a 4WD you can head up the steep road to the higher car park and skip 15 minutes of the walk.

 

 

Around 20 minutes into the walk from the top car park, you’ll come to a waterfall and see a sign saying the ‘Wye Creek’ track is ahead. The official Wye Creek DOC track is an eight hour one way hike, so instead of taking this actual route, head towards the waterfall where you’ll find another walkway that takes you to a water pipe with walking planks, and eventually a helicopter pad that you can sit on and take in the incredible views overlooking the lake and Queenstown.

From here there are also some of the best climbing spots in Queenstown, so if you’re a climber pack your ropes!

Read more: Want To Start Climbing? Here’s How!

3. Shadow Basin Lookout & Lake Alta – Hike up the Remarkables

Time from Queenstown: 40 minutes
Hiking duration: 1.5 hours return

Snowsports are definitely not the only reason to head up the Remarkables Ski Field. Outside of winter there are some great hiking opportunities, especially heading up to The Lookout, towering almost 2000m above Queenstown.

The drive up to the Remarkables is a treat in itself, with wicked views up on the mountain, but make sure you drive with caution along the twisty cliffs. The hike starts from the Remarkables car park. Although it’s an off-track walk, for most of the hike you’re following along via the Shadow Basin chairlift.

 

 

From the end of the chairlift, head to the top of the slope along the ridge. For the last leg you have to walk over a rocky trail which is pretty steep. You’ll eventually reach a gap in the ridge, with incredible views looking back at Queenstown and the lake.

At the top, there are some metal bars indicating it’s a viewpoint, so once you see this you know you’ve arrived! The spot is also labelled ‘Remarkables Ultimate View Point’ on Google maps, which might help with your navigation up there. On your way down, make a small detour and head back via Lake Alta. 

Although I enjoy this as a summer hike (great spot for sunset), good news is you can also access it in winter. A lot of skiers and boarders head here for a little side trip since the chairlift takes you up most of the way, you’ve just gotta be up for a little snow-boot walk.

 

4. Sawpit Gully Loop

Time from Queenstown: 20 minutes
Hike duration: 2-3 hours

A little different for a Queenstown hike as it’s not orientated around a lake view, Sawpit Gully is an awesome loop track that comes with Arrowtown mining history charm, diverse scenery, and stunning views of the Remarkables and Lake Hayes. Although this hike can be walked year-round, if you’re here in autumn you get to see some magical orange and red foliage. 

This whole route is a DOC trail, relatively easy and can be started in either direction. Just make sure you keep following the signs for Sawpit Gully and you’ll be sweet as, with river views, a gully (suprise suprise), grassy countryside, and a saddle. Start at the car park next to the Chinese settlement in Arrowtown. If you’re a runner, it’s a great running trail with a good combination of small hills and decent terrain.

 

Long Day Hikes Near Queenstown

5. Sugarloaf Pass

Time from Queenstown: 1 hour 10 minutes
Hike duration: 4-6 hours 

For a hike that literally veers off the Routeburn Great Walk, it’s amazing how much Sugarloaf Pass is by-passed. Maybe that’s why this is one of my favourite day-trips from Queenstown. Starting along the first 20 minutes of the Routeburn Track (Glenorchy side), you’ll see a DOC sign for Rockburn Trail/Sugarloaf Pass on the right.

The track is on tougher terrain than the Routeburn, with a narrower path and tree roots. The first part is through some beautiful forest (make sure you follow the orange track markers), until you exit the treeline and then you start walking up through grass with beautiful mountain views behind you. This grassy part can be a bit wet at times as it’s near a stream, so it’s preferable to have waterproof boots on.

Read more: The Best Waterproof Hiking Boots for Winter Adventures

 

 

Keep heading up (yes, it’s all uphill from here), and follow orange poles that indicate the trail. Eventually you’ll reach the pass, with incredible views overlooking the valley. From here head off-track and take a right up the hill next to you, for even better views overlooking the valley, and more sights on the other side – just please respect the alpine shrubs! 

For a longer walk you can head towards Lake Sylvan (8-11 hours), but I prefer to head back down to Routeburn Shelter from the pass. 

Overnight Hikes Near Queenstown

6. Earnslaw Burn

Time from Queenstown: 1 hour
Hike duration: 4-6 hours one way

A hike for those with a tent (if you don’t have your own, you can rent one, along with other camping gear, at Small Planet Sports), Earnslaw Burn takes you to an enchanting glacier. 

The majority of the walk is flat through the forest, however, due to the terrain of constant tree trunks and rocks, that certainly doesn’t make it easy. When I took on this walk, I really thought we’d be able to get there in quicker than four hours (the recommended time by DOC), but boy was I wrong! Part of the fun of the walk is the anticipation, you really don’t know what it’s going to look like at the end, so in this case it kind of is about the destination. 

 

 

Once you’ve arrived, find a place to pitch your tent (make sure it’s a dry spot as there are a lot of wet fields) and go explore the glacier. This is one of those places where it’s hard to capture the true beauty of the landscape on camera. With a wall of waterfalls, the glacier towering above you, and the sound of the glacier falling off in the night, the Earnslaw Burn hike is truly a magical experience.

If you’re super pressed for time, you could hike in and out in a day, but I advise against it so that you can make the most of the glacier while you’re there. It’s much better over two days!

 

7. Brewster Hut

Time from Queenstown: 2 hours 10 minutes
Hike duration: 3-4 hours one way

A beautiful overnight tramp in the Makarora area, the Brewster Hut hike takes you for a steep climb up to a 12-bunk hut nestled in the mountains. The track starts from the Fantail Falls car park.

From about 50m downstream of the falls, look across the river for a large orange trail marker. This indicates the start of the track, so make sure you spot it before crossing. Only cross in safe conditions and not during or after heavy rain. Once you’ve successfully crossed the cold river, arguably the hardest part is over – now just four hours of uphill tramping! 

 

 

The first two hours of the hike is in the bush, following the orange trail markers. Once you leave the treeline you’re rewarded with incredible views of the valley behind you, which just keep on improving the higher you go.

Continue walking in the tussocks following orange trail markers for about another hour until you reach the hut. From the hut, you can view many beautiful waterfalls and if you want to go further, check out the glacier and Mount Armstrong.

Hiking to Brewster Hut can be achieved easily as a day trip (definitely not as hard when you’re not carrying an overnight pack), but you’ll get serious FOMO that you can’t stay the night, sitting on the deck, enjoying a couple of cheeky brewsters!

 

Multi-day Hikes Near Queenstown

8. Gillespie Pass Circuit

Time from Queenstown: 2 hours 10 minutes
Hike duration: 3-4 day

A pristine blue glacier lake, epic rugged mountains, and ever-changing scenery. The Gillespie Pass Circuit has everything you dream of in an Aotearoa (New Zealand) multi-day hike, and it comes without the need to book months in advance and with more flexibility than the Great Walks.

 

 

You can start this hike from either direction, but make sure you plan ahead, as unless you’re prepared to do a major river crossing, you’ll need to rent a jet boat for either the beginning or end.

If you want to skip some of the start/end of the hike you can get the jetboat as far down the river as possible (which personally I recommend having more time at Siberia Hut, and the views don’t really change along this part of the trail).

The Crucible Lake day trip is also a must, which means you get to spend two nights at one hut – good to settle in a wee bit!