The Queenstown Hill Time Walk is a demanding walk uphill, ending with fantastic views of Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables, and other mountains.
I’m not sure what to call this walk. The sign at the start of the walk calls it the Queenstown Hill Walkway, but at the same time it lists the title Time Walk just above the time it takes to do the walk.
Perhaps Time Walk refers to the time it takes to do the walk, but somehow the walk eventually got that name. I don’t know…
In any case, if I say Queenstown Hill Walkway or Queenstown Hill Time Walk, I’m refering to the same walk.
This Queenstown walk is easily accessible from Queenstown city center. It is a pretty demanding walk up a hill that offers great views of Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables, Cecil Peak, Walter Peak, and other mountains north and south of Queenstown.
I’ve done this walk countless times; once even three times on the same day. The most enjoyable part for me is walking through the Douglas fir forest.
It smells really nice on warm sunny days and reminds me of Christmas on the American continent where I’m originally from.
How to get to the Queenstown Hill Walkway
From Frankton Road in Queenstown, turn into Dublin Street. Dublin Street is located just outside of Queenstown city center where there is a sharp bend in Frankton Road (Highway 6A) as you are driving in or out of Queenstown.
Drive up Dublin Street until you reach Edinburgh Drive on your right. Turn right into Edinburgh Drive.
Drive until you reach a sharp intersection. Go left at the intersection and then left again on Belfast Terrace.
Continue driving on Belfast Terrace until you see a small parking lot on your right.
You should also see a sign for the Queenstown Hill Walkway there.
Walking the Queenstown Hill Time Walk
The starting point for the Queenstown Hill Time Walk is located at a small car park off Belfast Terrace in Queenstown, not far from the city center.
The view from Queenstown Hill in winter
The car park and start of the walk are marked by a Queenstown Lakes District Council sign [Photo: Sign at the start of the Queenstown Hill Walkway (55 KB)].
The start of the walk is already pretty steep, and the trail continues climbing until it veers off to the right and a little while after you reach a gate [Photo: Gate on the Queenstown Hill Walkway (64 KB)].
You should see a plaque in the neighborhood that says:
This pathway leads to our future. With each step, we seek the guidance and wisdom of those who have gone before us; we walk with a sense of hope, that those who follow in our footsteps beyond the year 2000 can do so with the same sense of pride in, and protection for, this beautiful place.
After opening and closing the gate, continue following the trail. This section that leads into the forest is not that steep and the trail itself is well marked.
You should see information panels about the region here and there along the trail.
After following the trail in a pretty straight line for a while, it will veer off to the left and climb somewhat steeply into the heart of the forest [Photo: Forest trail of the Queenstown Hill Walkway (51 KB)].
You should pass another plaque on your way to the trail junction [Photo: Plaque on the Queenstown Hill Walkway (57 KB)].
All in all, it can get pretty dark in the forest, especially on cloudy days, early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
However, there is a clearing in the forest, just before you reach the trail junction, where you will be walking past some nice Douglas firs [Photos: Walking through Christmas trees on the Queenstown Hill Time Walk (61 KB); Trees in the forest of the Queenstown Hill Walkway (61 KB)].
After passing the clearing, you should enter the forest again and come up to a junction where you must make a decision: Go left or go right? [Photo: Queenstown Hill Time Walk junction (53 KB)]
If you choose to go left, the trail will transform into a pretty steep and rocky adventure. But the positive side is that within less than 5 minutes you should be out of the forest and getting views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the mountains north of Queenstown.
Note that last time I did this walk, the left trail had been more or less abandoned and was pretty unmaintained, so it might not be an option anymore to go that way.
Pine trees tend to grow wild and take over the area, so if the trail is not maintained, it will be difficult to find your way, so the safest option would be to choose the trail on the right at the junction.
If you choose to go right, you will prolong your journey in the forest, and it will take you a bit longer to reach the Basket of Dreams, but you should be entertained by more information panels along the way [Photo: Information panel and forest clearing on the Queenstown Hill Time Walk (46 KB)].
Continue following the trail until you are out of the forest [Photo: Hill Time Track sign on the Queenstown Hill Walkway (57 KB)].
Once you are out of the forest, the terrain will become a bit rough and can also be muddy if it has rained in the days prior.
Whether you choose to go left or right at the trail junction in the forest does not matter once you are out the forest, because either way, the trail will transform into a rocky adventure.
However, the chance of encountering mud especially on days after it has rained, is greater on the right trail than it is on the left trail, which has more rocks and boulders than dirt.
Both trails eventually join up again, and it should not be long before you reach the Basket of Dreams. It generally takes me about 35 – 40 minutes to reach this sculpture on the Queenstown Hill Time Walk [Photo: Basket of Dreams on the Queenstown Hill Walkway (56 KB)].
The Basket of Dreams is a sculpture made of steel by an artist called Caroline Robinson. There is a plaque nearby that says:
The Basket’s spiral of steel follows you
inward to reflect to draw inspiration from the mountains, lake and from those who are with you
outward to dream for the future.
Time flies, eternity awaits.
You can enjoy views of the Remarkables, Lake Wakatipu, Cecil Peak, and other mountains north and south of Queenstown from the location of the Basket of Dreams [Photos: Basket of Dreams and Lake Wakatipu on the Queenstown Hill Time Walk (43 KB), Basket of Dreams and the Remarkables on the Queenstown Hill Walkway (56 KB)].
But if you still have some energy left, you could also continue on the trail up the mountain. It is a short 15 – 20 minutes up the hill to a viewpoint that gives you even better views of the lake and the mountains [Photo: Trail to the summit from the Basket of Dreams on the Queenstown Hill Walkway (50 KB)].
And while you could walk even further, the views do not really get better, and I must admit that it is a very long walk.
It is not clear where the Queenstown Hill Time Walk ends, since there are visibly trails all over the place. I tend to stop at the first viewpoint.
So if you go in winter, make sure you are wearing shoes that have a good winter grip or carry a pair of snowshoes along with you. Walking up a steep hill that has snow on it is quite easy. Coming down is the hard part.
[Photo: The Remarkables as seen from the Queenstown Hill Walkway in winter (49 KB)]
Once you have enjoyed the views, return the same way you came or return via the trail you did not choose to walk up.
Note that it is much easier to descend via the longer and less steep trail on the eastern flank than it is to descend via the shorter but steep trail on the western flank of the Queenstown Hill Walkway track.
Basic info for the Queenstown Hill Time Walk
|Trail length:||1.7 – 2 km (1 – 1.2 mi) to the Basket of Dreams (depending on which route you take; steep or less steep) and then 0.5 km (0.3 mi) more to a viewpoint overlooking Lake Wakatipu.|
|Walking time:||1.5 – 3 hours return (depending on how far you go after reaching the first viewpoint)|
|Difficulty:||Medium to hard. Most of the trail is uphill, so there aren’t any downhill sections and very few sections where the trail is level.|
|Trail type:||A mixture of dirt, gravel, and rocks. The trail in the forest is well-trodden and pretty solid yet soft.|
|Trail condition:||Very good to average.|
|Fitness level:||Moderate to high.|
|Best time to walk:||Anytime. Watch out for snow on the hill in winter.|
|What you’ll see:||Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables, Cecil Peak, Walter Peak, and other mountains around Lake Wakatipu.|
The approximate location of the Basket of Dreams is indicated with a red star symbol and the easiest route up Queenstown Hill is indicated with a red dashed line on this topographic map of the Queenstown Hill Walkway (197 KB) [This work is based on/includes LINZ’s data which is licensed by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) for re-use under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license].
Video of the Queenstown Hill Walkway
This 5-minute video gives you an impression of what to expect on this semi-demanding but scenic walk up Queenstown Hill in Queenstown on the South Island of New Zealand.
This article falls under Day Walks.
Note: Walking tracks and trails can be changed or get closed. The information presented here was accurate when it was gathered.