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Beautiful track through native forest minutes from the bustle of Queenstown

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3,011' 918 m


1,530' 466 m


1,620' 494 m


1,616' 493 m



Avg Grade (7°)


Max Grade (24°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Wildflowers

Need to Know

The obvious start point is from the carpark on Wynyard Crescent next to the electricity substation, but the skyline gondola access road is also accessible from Lomond Crescent, behind the Rydges Hotel so an alternative start/finish is from the bike park on the access road.

The top section is about 934m (3000ft) above sea level and can be icy and snowy in winter, but is considerably safer than the ascent of Ben Lomond looming above, which in winter usually needs crampons and ice axe (required in hard conditions) or full ski mountaineering kit.


This is a beautiful loop track that winds through the native New Zealand red beech forest below Ben Lomond. The ascent is split into two half of contrasting character, and the downhill hike (going clockwise) is wonderfully gently graded and of continuous interest, with the occasional passing MTBer on busy days. Clockwise means the steepest and most tree-root heavy terrain is taken in ascent. The track is kept by the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club (QMTBC)

Park in the car park by the electricity substation on Wynyard Crescent, or on foot via Lomond Crescent (this loop can also be done easily from Queenstown without needing a car). The first section from the substation is shared with MTBers heading uphill, but since the gondola now takes much of the effort for the MTB crowd it is unusual to meet riders here. The lower section is well signposted as FernHill Loop West.

The track is well-graded and gentle with a number of zigzags up to the top of the McNearly GnarlyMTB jump trail at about 1.5km. Here the character of the ascent changes from gentle to distinctly steeper (15 to 20 degrees and sustained), up through the tree roots of the wilding pine forest. The upper reaches of this have been killed to reduce the spread of this invasive species up Ben Lomond, leaving a slightly eerie dead forest, which thins out until entering the tussock and grass meadow, a welcome bench, and the top of the Salmon Run bike track (closed to foot traffic).

The South Ridge of Ben Lomond looks close enough to touch. This is the physical high point of the track and it's pretty much all downhill from here. This track formed a stage of the NZ Mountain Running Championship series and is continuously interesting and beautiful underfoot. Take the lower track if the option arises, as the upper (Beeched As) heads higher up the hill and joins the busy Ben Lomond Track.

Cross the stream and continue down the singletrack - there are a couple of points to keep an eye out for the MTB brigade but for much of the descent you run parallel to the bike tracks looking down upon them - so are at low collision risk! At the bottom of the descent there is a clearing by the skyline gondola access track and a very welcome water tap.

Continue on Fernhill loop past the "Walkers Only - No Bikes" sign and work your way down, steeply in places through the tree roots until you eventually cross Fern Hill creek. A short but steep pull out the gully leads to a fairly graded track leading back to the parking spot.

Flora & Fauna

The upper section is beautiful NZ red beech forest and a haven for wildlife, including mohua (yellowhead), fantails, south island robins, and the cries of kea can be heard. The invasive wilding pines are subject to fairly intense control - please pull any small pine seedlings that might be taking root!


Shared By:

Ben Brockway

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in Queenstown


  5.0 from 1 vote
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34 Views Last Month
1,879 Since Jan 14, 2020



Typical red beech forest track - lovely underfoot
Jan 17, 2020 near Queenstown, NZ
Climbing through the dead wilding pines
Jan 17, 2020 near Queenstown, NZ
Beneath the S ridge of Ben Lomond
Jan 17, 2020 near Queenstown, NZ


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Nov 27, 2020
Benjamin Orellana
7.5mi — 2h 20m