“This is the killer full version of the Ben Lomond Track hike. You'll feel awesome by the end!
— André Chalmers
Birding · Views · Wildlife
The surface is mainly dirt, with some stones and tree roots once you leave the vehicle access road. This is the easiest foot access to Ben Lomond Track
, the views just keep getting better the higher you get.
Only drawbacks: watch out for cyclists, walkers and occasionally vehicles. Also, a minor issue is that the main Douglas Fir forest is an introduced species and it's not till you get halfway up that it morphs into the lovely local flora. Watch out for feral goats which are often seen but always smelt!
Starting from Lomond Cres carpark go up the access road, be careful not to enter any of the bike tracks. After about 15 minutes you'll get to Halfway Clearing where the track splits into multiple tracks, follow the road to the right and 100 metres up the road you'll see a sign to as the right turns again to the right. Follow this track through the tall Douglas Fir trees until you emerge into the sunshine (hopefully) above the bush line. This area has been cleared of many trees. Not long after this the track forks and you continue to the left (the right-hand track takes you to the Skyline complex).
The trail then contours along the side of a major ridge, briefly crossing a patch of native forest, but otherwise sticking to open country with Ben Lomond getting gradually nearer with each step. The trail eventually joins the top of the ridgeline, where expansive views open up of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables beyond. Depending on your pace up until this point, you may be feeling it here. You get welcome relief once you approach Ben Lomond Saddle and the gradient flattens out.
Near the saddle is the intersection with the Moonlight Track
, and a bench that provides a convenient resting point and chance to assess conditions. Above the saddle, the climb to the peak becomes increasingly committing as the trail steepens and exposure increases. In clear weather, the views are wildly impressive and just keep getting better as you go higher. Keep heading up, with occasional small switchbacks and a few steps that may require hands for balance. Eventually, you'll top out on the summit and can enjoy commanding views of the Queenstown area and surrounding mountains. A mounted sight-map on the summit will help you make sense of the peaks in every direction. When you've soaked in the epic views long enough, retrace your steps the way you came.
Keep in mind the downhill which, while pleasant, is also extended from the easier Skyline version of this hike. Be careful with your footing around stones and roots.
Flora & Fauna
At the lower levels, the main tree is the introduced Douglas Fir which is being actively managed. The main native tree is Mountain Beech while the above the treeline the mountain is covered in tussock. The main bird on seen is the Pipit. Commonly seen are goats and if not seen are definitely smelt!