Climbing Ben Lomond (1748m) is a must do for any reasonably fit hiker visiting Queenstown. The route we take to the top starts on the edge of town, and at first passes through beech forest, then pine forest, and once above the treeline it’s tussock grass until the summit, where there are 360 degree views of the Southern Alps, the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu.
Standing on the summit of Ben Lomond on a clear enough day, you can blindly point your camera in any direction and come away with an epic landscape shot. There are 360 degree views of the Southern Alps, Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables, and depending on the weather conditions these views might look very different, as the photos that follow will demonstrate.
The steep but steady 1400m climb is very satisfying if you like that sort of thing (as I do). There’s quite a variety of vegetation, starting in native beech forest, then non-native pine, and above the tree line it’s tussock grass until the summit. If you only make it to the saddle at 1316m of elevation the views over the Southern Alps are already excellent, and you can also take a turn off about half way up, and take a short walk up to point 1121m for great views of Queenstown Hill and the Remarkables. For the less fit or the time poor there’s a cable car/gondola that runs up to 812m above sea level from where there are also grand views (although I’ve never been). You can walk from the gondola viewing point to meet up with the main track to the summit. The photos that follow are from a few different occasions. Track notes at the end.
Ben Lomond Track: The Scenery
17th May 2017
Sophia was sick this day so I climbed the mountain by myself, and was very pleased to find two kea hanging around at the summit, no doubt waiting for an opportunity to steal somebody’s food. I set off late and was really shifting it to make sure I got back before nightfall, so I only took pictures from the summit.
June 19th 2016
When attempting to climb Ben Lomond in 2016 we stopped at about half way because the summit was clouded in, and I think we had set off rather late as it was. Nevertheless, our short side trip to point 1121m was a nice variation that I can recommend. We walked to the summit just the next day in quite wintery conditions. Those photos to follow.
20th June 2016
Up to the summit this time.
28th December 2014
31st December 2012
Just one shot from our first time up the mountain. It was a beautiful clear day but the shots I took with my point and shoot camera are not quite as good as my later photos: a bit washed out.
There are brief notes on the DOC website. They recommend starting at Brecon St or Skyline access Rd, but we’ve always started at a different spot up a short unnamed road off the roundabout at the junction of Lake Esplanade/ Queenstown to Glenorchy Road/ Fernhill Road, where there’s a car park and a small disused hydro power station. I recommend this because it starts in attractive beech forest. The track is pretty straightforward except for one spot in the beech forest, where it’s possible to miss a right turn and follow a false track until it peters out. Just turn back and pick up the track again. This section follows an old pipeline which used to service the power station. The track later enters pine forest where it crosses mountain biking trails, and eventually emerges from the trees and climbs steadily to the saddle, and then rises steeply to the pointy summit. It’ll take about 6 hours at a steady pace, although if you’re full of beans it can be done in under 4 hours. It’s also possible to walk up Ben Lomond from Arthurs Point, but we’ve never done it and I think it’s quite a bit longer (as in longer than a day walk).