1,578 meters // 5,177 feet // 16km return
1,375 meters // 4,511 feet // full day's hike
1,748 meters // 5,734 feet // 360° panoramic views
First solo summit!
For any summit-seekers living in or traveling to Queenstown, Ben Lomond is a must and is accessible from directly in town (Fernhill roundabout) or from the Skyline Gondola.
I was stunned by the views - they were breathtaking near the top, with unimpeded 360 degree panoramic views at the summit. It truly puts Queenstown into perspective when you realize how nestled into the Southern Alps it is.
I summited on May 8, the last weekend before Ben Lomond received its first dusting of snow. I went early on a Sunday morning and didn't see a soul for at least 2 hours, and it was still relatively calm on the way down - not at all overcrowded like some trails I've been on in New Zealand.
It was challenging but very do-able for anyone who is moderately fit and equipped with proper shoes, a light jacket, and snacks and water. It's certainly a climb, moving up most of the track, with very few level portions. Under tree cover for about 25-30% of the journey up, then you're through tussock and rock to the top. It was only technically challenging near the very top with a bit of light scrambling and footing coordination.
Approximately a 6-8 hour return. (For the Americans out there - 'return' means 'round-trip'.) You could also make the Saddle your destination if you are limited on time or means. The Saddle is about 2/3 of the way up to the Ben Lomond summit and still affords stunning views and a moderately challenging hike.
By the way, the peak was named Ben Lomond by a Scottish shepherd after a peak by the same name in Scotland. Its first recorded ascent took place in 1860.