I like to think of Queenstown, NZ a bit like an adult Disney World; tons of fun stuff to do but terribly expensive.
The town offers everything from skydiving to high speed jet boats but any given adventure activity costs at least NZ $100 per person.
As Chris and I have maintained an incredibly strict budget (which often leads to much turmoil), we opted to indulge in only one costly activity while in the city, Canyoning, which you may have read about in a previous post (beautifully written, might I add).
So to fill our time and save money, we often sought out the free activities in Queenstown… and all over the country for that matter.
This isn’t hard to do considering every town in New Zealand has (free) hiking trails. Queenstown’s most popular trail is called the Ben Lomond Track.
It’s located right in the center of all the action. The trail begins at the peak of a gondola overlooking the city, which is also the home of luge tracks, an ice cream shop, a restaurant/bar and a really intense dirt bike trail.
There are two ways to get to the track start:
(1) Hop in a gondola swing and enjoy the view of Lake Wakatipu and the gorgeous mountain ranges, known perfectly as, The Remarkables, up to the top ($12pp NZD)
(2) Hike up steep terrain alongside the dirt bike trails for about one hour until reaching the peak of the gondola (Priceless)
Both get you to the start of the Ben Lomond track, but only one is free (surprisingly, the less glamorous option), so we found ourselves embarking on a one-hour uphill trek to get to the trail start.
(But hey, we saved $24!)
It was a challenging warm up to what would be a notably difficult summit climb. Along the way we passed zip lines, dirt bikes, wooden chairs, and killer views!
Once we hit the track start the weather began feeling questionable but it was too late to turn back…
Luckily, we brought our rain jackets (one of the few times Chris would actually have his with him when we were caught in rain storms in the South Island, silly boy).
Even with scattered rain and clouds, the views along the track were incredible!
It was a pretty tough six hours of tramping, but definitely worth every penny.