On the first day in December, the kickoff to NZ summer, seven fab ladies and I took off from Wellington, bound for Queenstown. We got a great flight deal a few months beforehand and figured it was about time for another ladies’ trip. This time around, we had more people coming along than ever before, so we booked a big bach just outside of town for two nights.
We touched down in stunning Qtown mid-morning on Saturday, with just enough time to pose with Emma’s selfie stick while we waited for our shuttle.
After arriving at our great bach, with a view to boot, we all walked into town for some lunch. Fueled up, four of us split off to do a hike we’d been looking forward to, Queenstown Hill.
Emma B, Emma P, Sibohan and I geared up at the house and headed back through town. The first part of the “hike” was perhaps the hardest, getting up the steep back streets of Queenstown. Fully winded after quite the climb, we reached a sign that welcomed us to the Queenstown Hill Walkway. Jeeze, and we hadn’t even technically started yet! Luckily, the track itself was mostly a gentler grade than the streets of town.
Before long, we came across a familiar site in NZ, little rock towers built by fellow hikers.
They always give off a sort of otherworldly feeling, and this spot felt especially so with a nearby fairy door and looming rock formations.
We climbed uphill over a carpet of pine needles, beneath arching branches. Part of the trail is known as the Time Walk, with periodic signs detailing the past of Queenstown and the Lake Wakatipu area. Besides being interesting, these signs were a great reason to stop for breath now and then.
Coming upon a lookout sign, we had to take the small offshoot trail and get our first glimpse of the view. So far, so good!
Just a bit further, we emerged out of the forest. The Remarkables (yes, the mountain range near Queenstown is actually called that, and who could argue) rose sharply in the distance, providing a stark backdrop to the hilltop blooms.
Although many of the color here comes from invasive species, we can at least appreciate their beauty amongst the greens and blues of the mountain landscape (while we work to eradicate some of them!).
I love the pops of orange, which are actually felled pines.
After a slight holdup when my Fitbit fell off and I managed to backtrack and find it, thanks to some fellow Americans who spotted it on the path, we continued to the summit.
From up here, we could see how far we’d come from the shores of Lake Wakatipu.
One final climb, and we were at the top!
Rain lurked across the lake, but luckily kept its distance so we could enjoy our spot on top of the world.
At 907 meters (just shy of 3,000 feet), we were definitely in a great spot for 360-degree views. Bob’s Peak, the apex of Queenstown’s gondola, is only 450 meters, so hiking up to twice that height felt like an accomplishment!
Obviously, it was the right time to take some silly photos. Who knows what we were going for, but I love the result!
I also couldn’t pass up the chance to share this awesome shot that Emma P took with her camera:
Solo, “I made it” shot time, complete with fake pointing.
Em’s got her professional Vanna White pose down!
Here’s the view toward Ben Lomond (the peak to the left), which Kelsey B and I climbed in our American leggings last year.
Even though it’s summer, snow-capped peaks can be seen year-round down south. NZ’s rugged Southern Alps bear that title for a reason.
Perhaps my favorite mountain is a bit closer – Cecil Peak. It’s the nearest one across Lake Wakatipu in this photo, one of the most prominent above Queenstown:
I’ll always think of my dear Papa Cecil when I see it, which makes me smile. An avid traveler, he’d have loved to see this rugged, beautiful spot bearing his name.
After plenty of photos and some time spent sans-technology, just taking in the epic view, it was time to head back down.
As I took my camera out for a photo of The Remarkables, a plane took off from the nearby airport just in time.
The crowning glory of the Time Walk, the iron “Dream Basket” signifies the link between Queenstown’s past and future.
Down, down, down we go!
What a great hike to do with friends! It takes about two to three hours round-trip, depending on how many times you stop for photos or to enjoy the view, so you aren’t using up a whole day. Although some parts were steeper, it’s a manageable hike for most people. I’ve been to Queenstown a few times, and this was by far the best view of the area I’ve gotten short of an airplane, so I’d highly recommend it.
If possible, polish it off with some gelato from Mrs. Ferg’s and rosé on your bach balcony. 🙂
Photo credit to Emma!
Stay tuned for Queenstown in full bloom and some adventures on the lake!