To the top of Queenstown and back

My time in Queenstown is almost coming to an end, so I had to work on my wish list quickly. On this list was walking to the top of Ben Lomond, but with 1748m there is often snow on the summit which makes it hard to reach. Today I started walking, hoping the snow would have been melted for the most part. Together with my friend Alice I started at the base of the gondola, by walking up the Tiki Trail. The one hour walk was pretty steep and I arrived at the top sweating and panting. although it’s super busy there, it was worth making our way through the building to see the view over town.

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As soon as we got back on the track to Ben Lomond, the crowds disappeared and the silence came back. So close and yet so far. We walked through a really dark bit of Douglas Fir forest. The fir trees are unwanted though, as they ruin the native landscape. Coming out of the forest the sun greeted us into the open field of tussock, where we slowly gained elevation. Slow but steady. It was really nice not to climb super steep parts for a change. It gave you so much more time to enjoy the walk, and also the views over lake Wakatipu. Truly amazing!

After morning tea in the tall, yellow tussock we walked further towards the mountains. When we arrived at the ‘one hour to go’-sign, it started to get muddy and we saw snow here and there. Luckily most of the snow was off the path, but all the meltwater made it a muddy track. Just before we started to climb steeply again, we arrived at a bench, the perfect place for a sandwich, with the perfect view.

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The journey to the top was absolutely horrendous. It was steep, rocky, muddy and had parts covered in snow. Besides that it seemed to be never-ending. After every big rock I thought was the summit, was another big rock. The last hour seemed like three hours. Even when another walker told us we were nearly there, we seemed miles away. So I was very surprised when our watch indicated it had really only been an hour. Where the rest of the walk seemed to go superfast, this part was just dragging.

it was worth all the effort though. The panorama from the summit was mindblowing. There was Coronet Peak and the Remarkables, and several other peaks of which I don’t know the names. We saw how big lake Wakatipu really is and the smaller Moke lake, surrounded by mountains. There was snow of the tops which gave it an even more magical look. The walk back was surprisingly easy. Back at the gondola we treated ourselves to some ice cream before descending that last little bit. One more hour. I felt my knees and legs, but don’t regret any step. If you want to see something spectacular on a budget, walk to Ben Lomond. You’ll be at the height at which the fancy helicopters fly.

 

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