If you love hiking then first thing is first, you need to get your butt to New Zealand! If you haven't done much hiking, this is a great country to try it! The NZ alps are absolutely breathtaking, and hiking up the many trails in summer is something you won't ever forget. This hike is located in Queenstown which is on the south island of New Zealand. Queenstown is known for its adventurous activities and stunning scenery.
From the town there is the skyline gondola which takes you up to a beautiful view point. This is where you can enter the mountain bike park and access a whole range of riding trails, but it is also where you can join the Ben Lomond hiking trail. We opted for starting at the top of the Gondola, but you can start down in at the bottom of the gondola too. The trail starts by traversing through a forest of large pines, as you make your away around the first mountain you enter a clearing and start the incline to the saddle. The trail gets a little rutted out in places, but over all it is pleasant to walk along.
Once you reach the saddle, you are met with beautiful views down the other side of the mountain. Take the time to stop and let the views settle in. This is where you will also start to see some wild goats around! The uphill continually (and gradually) gets steeper as you make your way up to the base of Ben Lomond peak.
The path then steers to the right towards the peak, yhis is where the path follows a steep ridge line, and unfortunately, is in poor condition due to the rain rutting it out. The path goes from being mainly soil to mainly shale rocks, making it quite easy to lose your footing. Be sure to take your time, which shouldn't be too hard as you can stop and admire the stunning layers of snow capped mountains now visible on the back side of the mountain.
Once you past the ridge you will start to wind around the mountain, making your way up. While this part of the path is not as steep, it is definitely more challenging, there have been large rock slides where the path becomes almost not existent in spots. There can also be a bit of wind around at this height, so if you are a little afraid of heights this part may take you a little longer to get through as you will be using your hands as well as your feet.
The path soon again evens out for the last wind up to the peak. You will now have views all the way down to Glenorchy where the lake's colour becomes an iridescent blue. At the peak you will see a number of Kea birds flying overhead. I think they may like playing with the draft that comes off the peak. If you know about the Kea you will know they are not a shy bird! They are a large parrot that is mainly green with orange under their wings and are found in the alps of the south island.
Reaching the peak will not be a disappointment, the 360 degree views are so varying and from a perspective that you just cant get anywhere in Queenstown. It's the perfect place to have a nice break, and eat some well earned snacks before making your way down.
The quick details:
1748m - Ben Lomond peak
2-3 hrs return from Gondola
6-8 hrs from Queenstown (40km)
Be sure to take; water, sunscreen, hat, layers/ wind jacket, and snacks
Plan your trip to be down before the sun sets!
Next time you find yourself in Queenstown, be sure to check out this amazing hike.