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The Wilderness 100: The 5 best trips in Queenstown and Wanaka

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May 2020 Issue

Looking for a new challenge this year (or for the remainder of your life)? How about ticking off the Wilderness 100?


Welcome to the inaugural Wilderness 100 – an annual list of the best trips in the country. For the website version of this feature story, we’ve broken the trips down into regions and linked to those trips we’ve got route notes and maps for. 

So, without further ado, here are the best trips in Queenstown and Wanaka

1. Ben Lomond, Queenstown

Some rate this Queenstown summit as the best tramper’s viewpoint in the country, and you can save 400m of climbing by taking the gondola. The track then climbs to Ben Lomond Saddle, with increasingly expansive views of the tawny tussock lands of Central Otago. A plinth on the 1748m summit indicates the names of the surrounding landmarks, including Lake Wakatipu, Mt Earnslaw, the Remarkables, and the vast array of mountains comprising Mt Aspiring National Park. DOWNLOAD

2. Isthmus Peak, Matatiaho Conservation Area

An alternative to the crowded Roys Peak Track, Isthmus Peak (1386m) offers wide views from a peak situated on the narrow peninsula between Lakes Wanaka and Hāwea. The route to the summit winds steeply over a high country station and passes through schist outcrops. DOWNLOAD

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Hiking the Greenstone Valley. Photo: Harry Talbot

3. Greenstone-Caples Track, Otago

This popular valley circuit combines the Greenstone and Caples tracks from Greenstone Station near Glenorchy. Though not as impressive as the neighbouring Routeburn Track, trampers will appreciate the ease and tranquillity of lush valley travel. DOWNLOAD

4. Wye Creek Track, The Remarkables Conservation Area

This spectacular day walk follows Wye Creek from Lake Wakatipu all the way to The Remarkables Ski Area, taking in the stunning Lake Alta and views of Double Cone. It’s a decent ascent, and trampers will need transport back to the trailhead. DOWNLOAD

5. Sentinel Peak, Otago

Sentinel Peak sits in the sweet spot between lakes Wanaka and Hawea and offers fantastic views that aren’t Roy’s Peak. Access is from Kidds Bush camping area up a marked track, with a final scramble to the top of this 1840m beauty.