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Queenstown Hill Walking Track: The complete walk-through experience

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On the second day of our trip to the South Island of New Zealand, we woke up early to trek the Queenstown Hill Walking Track. 

Yesterday’s weather forecast predicted today’s temperature would plummet to near zero and rain in the morning. So we anxiously hoped the forecast would change in the morning. 

When I logged on to the weather forecast in the morning, it said it would only rain in the afternoon. So we immediately took advantage of the good weather and set foot on Queenstown Hill. 

From downtown Queenstown to the trailhead

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The walk to the trailhead from Queenstown Center passed through some residential streets. It was cold, with a real feel between zero to five degrees Celsius. So we ensured we were not underdressed and wore gloves in anticipation of the cold weather. 

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The route to the trailhead offers some stunning views that unfold before us, showcasing the enchanting city of Queenstown, with its mesmerizing bluish lake and the majestic mountain range as the backdrop.

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Watch the video we shot at Queenstown Hill. It is at the end of this article. 👇👇

Start hiking up the Queenstown Hill

The starting point of the track is right after Belfast TCE.

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The Queenstown Hill Walkway takes a round trip of approximately 1.5 to 2.5 hours. Dogs are strictly prohibited. Additionally, it is crucial to adhere to the total fire ban in place, 

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Our early arrival in the morning proved to be a delightful decision, as we were greeted by the golden hour’s sunlight cascading upon the mountain range, illuminating it with a stunning array of hues. 

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The walkway is quite wide with a well-paved surface. While there are some inclines to conquer, it is Ok as long as you possess a moderate fitness level.

There are several vantage points equipped with benches. You can catch your breath and soak in the breathtaking views. 

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As we traverse the walkway, we enter a section enveloped by towering pine forest. These stretches provide a distinct ambiance and a contrasting view compared to the trail’s open areas.

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Then we walked past a gate, signaling we entering the deeper part of the mountain.

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We came across some beautiful mushrooms with vibrant red caps. However, it is crucial not to touch them because they are poisonous. 

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We soon arrived at a location known as the Fairy Meeting Place, a charming spot with tiny houses built specifically for the fairies.

Besides, we noticed numerous cairns stacked by other visitors.

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We reached the halfway point at a fork that went left or right. We opted to take the left path and returned from the right side once we reached the Queenstown Hill summit.

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The Basket of Dream

After an ascent of approximately twenty minutes, we arrived at the Queenstown Hill landmark, the Basket of Dreams sculpture.

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This remarkable wooden basket-like sculpture stands at a strategic vantage point, overlooking the magnificent Lake Wakatipu, while the majestic mountain range and Cecil Peak form a captivating backdrop. 

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Crafted by the local artist Caroline Robinson, the purpose of this exquisite structure is to create a space where visitors can share their dreams, aspirations, and wishes. The Basket of Dreams symbolizes that individuals can forge their dreams and the ability to express them in a tangible manner.

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Arriving at the summit

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A short distance of fifteen-minute hike from the Basket of Dreams led us to the summit of Queenstown Hill, Te Tapunuii (a mountain of intense sacredness).

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We are rewarded with an unparalleled vista at the top of the hill. It is above the tree line with 360 degrees view. However, the strong wind prompted us to descend quickly from the alternate side of the loop track.

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The mysterious return track

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This section of the loop track immerses us in a distinct experience. The towering trees and dense foliage create a verdant canopy that shadows the path.

Here, sunlight struggles to penetrate, transforming the ambiance into a sober, almost ethereal atmosphere. The once vibrant and lively surroundings give way to a slightly mysterious appeal. 

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The dense foliage and subdued lighting conditions in this area create an ideal environment for the flourishing of fungi and mushrooms, adding a touch of enchantment to the already mystical surroundings.

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We eventually emerge from the dense foliage, greeted by the familiar path that guides us back toward the trailhead. 

Our journey was a delightful round trip that spanned over two hours. We pause frequently, capturing countless photos and videos along the way. 

Watch the video we shot at Queenstown Hill. 👇👇

Speaking of which, we also upload a video documenting our hike up Queenstown Hill. Please click the image below to bring you to our YouTube channel (shot in high definition!). You may also want to check out our story at Queenstown Gardens.

Useful information for the Queenstown Hill Hike

  1. How long is the Queenstown Hill walking track? From the trailhead to the top of Queenstown Hill is 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles)
  2. How high is the summit? 907 meters / 2,975 feet
  3. How much elevation gain for the Queenstown Hill track? +500 meters / +1,640 feet
  4. How long it takes to hike Queenstown Hill? 2-3 Hours
  5. Is there any parking area at the Queenstown Hill trailhead? There is a small car park with only five parking lots, but you can park at the street parking along Belfast Terrace.
  6. Where is the Queenston Hill hike trailhead? 60 Belfast Terrace, Queenstown 9300 (GPS -45.02750712782133, 168.6666244988765)
  7. What is the best time to hike? Any time of the year.
  8. Difficulty: On the easy-moderate side
  9. How far is it from the heart of Queenstown? 15-20 minutes walk

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