Location - Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand
Difficulty - Easy/medium
Distance - 20km return
Duration - 3 to 10 hours return depending on fitness
Tiki Trail: 0.25 - 2 hours
Top of Gondola to Ben Lomond Saddle: 1 - 2 hours
Ben Lomond Saddle to Ben Lomond summit: 1 - 3 hours return via same track
Ben Lomond Saddle to Bowen Peak: 2 - 3 hours return via same track
Mountains in New Zealand can be an awesome challenge to hike or climb at any time of the year. If you're a seasoned hiker and want a taste of what all the fuss is about then get your hiking boots and trekking poles ready. In the winter Ben Lomond and Bowen Peak near Queenstown are the perfect introduction to climbing snow-covered mountains.
- Summiting Ben Lomond Peak
- Bowen Peak
- Experiencing alpine conditions
- Stunning views of Queenstown and The Remarkables
Firstly, you'll need to get yourself to Queenstown's Ben Lomond Crescent or the Tiki Trail at the base of the Skyline Gondola. Either track takes you to the same point. I prefer to go via the access track above Ben Lomond Crescent, which leads to an intersection signposted The Department of Conservation.
Ben Lomond and Bowen Peak are located above Queenstown and are most easily accessible via Ben Lomond Crescent or the Tiki Trail near the Skyline Gondola.
An alternate route is the Moonlight Track, however this requires up to eight hours walking from Arthurs Point which is best done in the warmer months.
Being pretty fit, I managed to get to the summit of Ben Lomond from the bottom of the Gondola in 2 hours. Going back down hill was faster.
Ben Lomond Saddle
A grassy peak neighbouring Ben Lomond behind Queenstown.
Once into the alpine area, you will come across a bench located halfway between Ben Lomond Peak and Bowen Peak known as Ben Lomond Saddle. Views here are outstanding, but just wait until you summit Ben Lomond! Proceed up to the left and prepare for steep, slippery walking where you will most likely need to use your hands to pull yourself over lichen covered rocks.
Ben Lomond summit provides 360° views of Queenstown, The Remarkables and all the way to Mount Aspiring and Coronet Peak.
From here follow the small orange triangles, usually found on trees or stakes, and keep going until you come to a clearing away from the conifer plantation. The towering peak of Ben Lomond will be in front of you, rising to 1,748m. Continue to follow the bike track until you reach Ben Lomond ridge. Proceed to the left and keep to the middle of the ridge as the right hand side is quite a drop-off.
1,316m – 1,631m
Altitude change 315m
This route is a good extension to the walk up Ben Lomond, and takes about 45 minutes each way from the saddle beneath Ben Lomond. There is no track up Bowen Peak, and the summit is a peaceful contrast to the rather crowded summit of Ben Lomond. From the saddle, follow the easy spur, picking your way through sub-alpine scrub. Patches of bare shingle make the walking easier, but it is never challenging. A rather rustic trig marker sits on top, where there is a good view of Ben Lomond as well as the Wakatipu Basin to the east and the "ski jump" outline of Peninsula Hill (a roche moutonnée) to the south east.
If you're feeling adventurous, go for the Ben Lomond to Bowen Peak traverse. Descend from Ben Lomond back to the saddle and make your way up the unmarked Bowen Peak (1,631m). It's best to do this hike when visibility is more than 100m and you'll need crampons in winter.
In the summer months, summiting Ben Lomond is suitable for intermediate level hikers whereas during the winter months this is more of an intermediate to expert kind of deal (crampons are advised).
To gain confidence and top up your hiking skills why not join us on one of our Wilderness Escapes?
Again, during the summer months on a clear day, intermediate level hikers should have no trouble summiting Bowen Peak. However the winter months are a different story and an attempt on Bowen Peak is best left for expert hikers with crampons.
Conditions on any mountain can change within a few minutes so please be prepared for sleet, snow and high winds. Avalanches are unlikely in these mountains but always remain a possibility.
Before setting off on these hikes, check with The Department of Conservation online or their office at 50 Stanley Street, Queenstown, NZ.
- Snow jacket or down jacket
- Thermal top and thermal pants
- Quality gloves for cold conditions
- Hiking boots
- 3L of water minimum
- Food and snacks
- First Aid Kit with a thermo blanket for emergencies
- Camera gear
- Crampons are required for Bowen Peak during winter months
I organise adventures every weekend around Townsville. If you are fit and capable, join us on these free expeditions by visiting Townsville Advenutres.
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