Queens Drive & Lake Alta, The Remarkables, Queenstown NZ

Three walks high up in the Remarkables Range near Queenstown: tracks to Lake Alta and Shadow Basin Lookout, and for something a little more hair raising, the Queens Drive track. Alpine scenes and spectacular views abound.

Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables

Three walks in one here: a straightforward walk up to beautiful Lake Alta from the Remarkables ski fields car park, a shortish climb to wide open views at Shadow Basin Lookout, and the somewhat hair raising Queens Drive track, that runs along a poor excuse for a ledge high up (about 2000m) on the west face of the Remarkables. Seriously spectacular views on the Queens Drive track, but if you don’t have a head for heights then you can just check out the views from Shadow Basin Lookout, which is on the way. 

Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
The Remarkables viewed from Remarkables Park car park. Queens Drive can be seen marked by a thin red line at the top. We walked from left to right, then back again.

Track Notes

We used the guide book Day Walks of New Zealand: Central Otago and Queenstown for track notes. We intended to do a loop: climbing from the ski fields car park to Shadow Basin Lookout, south along Queens Drive, then on to the head of Wye Creek, and follow the Wye Creek Route north to Lake Alta, then descend along the Lake Alta Track back to the car park.  Unfortunately we met one snow drift too many on Queens Drive and turned back, only to learn from an experienced walker that we had nearly made it to the end. Instead we walked back to the start of Queens Drive, then over to a spur north of Lake Alta, had lunch, and then descended steeply from there to the lake, and back to the car park along the Lake Alta Track. On our first trip to Queenstown in 2008 we walked up to Lake Alta and back from the car park, and I’ve included a few pics from this day also. 

The Scenery

A couple of shots from the drive up.

Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Even the drive up feels a bit intrepid (March 2008).
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
The view over the Kawarau River, taken on the drive up to the Remarkables ski fields (March 2008).

Walking up to Shadow Basin Lookout.

Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Looking back at tarns on the track to Shadow Basin Lookout.
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Shadow Basin Lookout: A panorama of Lake Wakatipu and the Queenstown/ Frankton area.
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Shadow Basin Lookout: The Queenstown area viewed from Shadow Basin Lookout.
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Shadow Basin Lookout: Cecil Peak (1978m) and Lake Wakatipu.
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Shadow Basin Lookout: Steep.

Queens Drive starts just to the left (south) of Shadow Basin Lookout. It’s not that obvious.

Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
The Queens Drive track to the left. Sophia bottom left.
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Rocks on the west face of the Remarkables. This is the face viewable from all around the Queenstown area. Sophia bottom left.
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
The Queens Drive track. Snow was covering much of the track, which was steep in places, making things harder for us.
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Sophia checking out the view from the Queens Drive track.
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Big snow drifts were making it hard to negotiate the track.
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Queens Drive Track. The slopes just dropped away.
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Returning back along the Queens Drive track.
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Sophia about half way along the Queens Drive track. Lake Wakatipu, Cecile Peak and Bayonet Peaks behind.
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Looking back towards Frankton and Queenstown. I took this shot in a fairly precarious spot on the Queens Drive track. The Southern Alps in the distance.

And walking over to Lake Alta…

Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Looking back down to the track we took at the start. The Southern Alps in the background.
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Lake Alta. This was our consolation for returning back along the Queens Drive Track. We had lunch here and descended steeply from this rocky spur to the shores of Lake Alta.
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Lake Alta
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Lake Alta backed by Single Cone and Double Cone.
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
A colourful Lake Alta with Single Cone and Double Cone behind (March 2008).
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Single Cone and Double Cone (2319m; March 2008).
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Single Cone and Double Cone (March 2008).
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Single Cone and Double Cone (March 2008).
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Single Cone and Double Cone (2319m of elevation).
Queens Drive & Lake Alta, Remarkables
Walking down the road from the Lake Alta Track back to the ski fields car park.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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