The peaks of Queenstown

28 June 2019

Queenstown’s stunning backdrop is one of the many draw cards that bring visitors from all over the world to its shores. Arguably the most beautiful part of that backdrop is the mountains that surround Lake Wakatipu.

It’s these mountains that help make Queenstown the town it is today. To many locals and excited tourists, they have become one of the biggest and most impressive playgrounds in the area. From hiking to photography you can choose to either tackle these beasts or sit back and enjoy their stunning looks from afar. Regardless of how you intend to enjoy them, you may as well get to know them!

In this blog, we want to take you on a little history lesson about the peaks of Queenstown!

Ben Lomond 

Ben Lomond is a very famous peak in Queenstown that actually shares its name with another famous peak in Scotland. In fact, it was actually named after it, by Duncan McAusland; an early shepherd in the Queenstown area.

Ben Lomond Mountain is one of the most popular peaks for hiking in Queenstown and each day many visitors tackle the hard climb to the summit. The hike from town takes between 7-8 hours to complete, however, a little local secret is to take the Gondola up to Bobs Peak and start the trail from there! It’ll shave a few hours of the hike time and save your legs for the last stretch to the summit!

Ben Lomond sits at an impressive 1,785 metres and is only four kilometres from Queenstown as the crow flies!

The view of the summit of Ben Lomand from the saddle.

Cecil Peak 

Cecil Peak is a much lesser known mountain in the Queenstown area however, it’s also one of the easiest to see from town. Cecil Peak sits at an impressive 1,978 meters. Relaxing on Queenstown beach you’ll have one of the best views of Cecil Peak.

Cecil Peak is across from Queenstown on the other side of Lake Wakatipu. The peak was named by William Ree’s after his son’s first name.

To get to Cecil Peak you’ll first need to take a water taxi from Queenstown across Lake Wakatipu. From there you’re free to hike the trail to the top. However, be warned that the trip to the summit isn’t short and will take you all day.

Views of Cecil Peak from the top of Queenstown Hill.

Walter Peak 

Walter Peak is another mountain you may not know but if you’ve been to Queenstown or plan on going, you certainly would have seen it. Walter Peak sits right next to Cecil Peak and was also named by William Rees after his second son, Walter. Although not as high as Cecil Peak, Walter Peak can still pierce the low clouds at 1,800 meters!

Walter Peak isn’t a very popular mountain to hike in Queenstown but it can be done. Once again, you’ll need to take a boat across the lake to that start of the trail and from there it’s around a 6 – 7 hour round trip to the summit. The hike becomes a bit of a scramble towards the end and is only recommended for experienced hikers!

If you still want to take in the breathtaking views without the hike then our Station 2 Station Cycle Trail is the perfect tour! This bike ride includes a scenic cruise to and from the working stations of both Walter Peak and Mt Nicholas. From there you cycle the 12 kilometre journey at your own pace and enjoy the stunning views!

Views of Walter Peak from Queenstown Hill.

Mt Nicholas 

Mt Nicholas is one of the hardest peaks to see on this list from Queenstown. It sits on the opposite side of Lake Wakatipu down towards Glenorchy. It may be harder to see but this part of the lake is arguably the most beautiful.

If you want to take in the stunning views of Mt Nicholas then we suggest joining our Mt Nicholas Farm Experience from Queenstown. On this tour, you’ll get to cruise across Lake Wakatipu on our Spirit of Queenstown Scenic Cruise before joining our farm staff for a tour on a working merino wool farm. You’ll get to see an area near Queenstown that many don’t, it’s a great tour that the whole family will love – especially the kids!

Mt Nicholas on the western shores of Lake Wakatipu.

The Remarkables

Last but certainly not least is the Remarkables. Although technically a mountain range made up of several peaks (the highest at 2,300 meters) we felt this famous Queenstown mountain deserved its own special mention. Out of all the peaks in Queenstown, the Remarkables is by far the most iconic!

In the winter, the Remarkables is a ski field run by NZ Ski. In the summer though, there are many different hiking trails that lead through the Remarkables with the most popular being Lake Alta. The hike to Lake Alta only takes around 2 hours to complete from the ski field carpark and is suited to all fitness levels.

You might be wondering how a mountain range gets the name “The Remarkables”? Well it’s actually very simple and Alexander Garvie was the man who made it happen. The story says he made a note in his book when surveying the range when he found that the Remarkables run true north to south. He said this was “truly remarkable” and the name stuck ever since!

Iconic view of the Remarkables from Skyline Queenstown.

Getting the best views of the Peaks of Queenstown 

There are plenty of ways to take in the views of the mountains around Queenstown and by foot you can just about see them all. But, if you’re after a more memorable experience then join our Spirit of Queenstown Scenic Cruise on Lake Wakatipu. From the lake, you can see all the beautiful peaks that surround Queenstown from the comfort of our boat. We also provide a live commentary so you can learn more about the area! 

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