Queenstown is home to many great hiking trails. I have done most of the trails around Arrowtown and one that went to Queenstown, but had yet to do the Ben Lomond hike. After looking at the weather for the weekend today seemed to be the best day for it. At first I was not sure if I picked right as clouds and mist came crawling into the canyon, but once I got high enough and some wind picked up most of the rainy stuff left.
Ben Lomond can be accessed two ways: through the One Mile Powerhouse or from the Skyline Gondola. The later saves about an hour off the 6-8 hour round trip hike. I chose the One Mile route since that seemed to be more interesting. One Mile Powerhouse was the first hydro power station for Queenstown. Before that it was just gas electricity. Needless to say this was an improvement to the area. This is just a restored model of the actual powerhouse, but you can see how electricity was made from water.
Getting to the Ben Lomond starts on the One Mile trail running along the old water stream complete with numerous waterfalls and a dam. One Mile takes about a half hour for a fit person to walk and reaches the start of Ben Lomond at a bike intersection.
The Skyline Gondola is one of the most visited parts of Queenstown. After taking the gondola to the top one can ride a bike down the trails of various skill levels, do some luge, or just eat and hang out. The views are incredible of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.
The rain apparently was not enough to stop the fire danger. I've seen signs like this around and all or on high or extreme even if it has been raining. Makes me believe these are not updated very often.
From the bike intersection at the end of One Mile the trail for Ben Lomond is picked up. From here the trail take 3 hours to the summit. I did it in 2.5 hours with the 1 hour ascent to the summit. For the most part the trail is a steady climb to the saddle and turns to steep as you climb to the summit. As I was walking to the saddle the weather was changing fast. In no time the clouds from above sank down to the valley and brought about a cold mist. My camera lens was starting to get wet and would not dry even in my bag. Luckily once I got higher I left that behind and had warm weather. The clouds were still around and would make some views hard to see, but now they were white and "fluffy" instead of dreary and heavy.
With no sign in book or object people have taken to the signs. Cool to see the places people visited from, but sad to see the sign vandalized.
This fog or cloud came down in about 5 minutes. One minute I could see around the next nothing. I did not see Ben Lomond until I was basically at the saddle.
The Remarkables looking stunning even though they are covered by clouds.
Ben Lomond Summit. Still a bit to get to the bottom of it, but absolutely stunning.
Later on the walk down the Remarkables decided to show themselves.
The climb to the summit was not the easiest and would be hard for lots of people, but if you take your time it should be fine. In some areas the trail was almost a climb as I had to get over rocks and was on very narrow paths with a less than desirable drop on the side. But wow once I reached the top I was amazed. The 360° view showed the Queenstown area and the lake could be seen for miles. Behind that was just mountain peak after mountain peak as far as I could see. Below me was Moke Lake the site of the Shotover Moonlight Marathon. To say I was impressed is an understatement. When I was up there clouds came in and covered up most of the Queenstown area. I got there at the best time and as I left the trail Ben Lomond was still covered up. This hike is very rewarding to do and should be done by all who visit Queenstown.