Queen’s Drive, Remarkables Day HikeChallenging & Rewarding hike on the Remarkables
AT A GLANCE
- Departs: 8.30am from Queenstown
- Season: Dec – Apr, once snow has melted
- Grade: Moderate, with some off piste
- Duration: Full day with transfers from Queenstown
- Walking distance: 5- 6 hours (5km)
MAKE A BOOKING
- Stunning scenic views overlooking Queenstown
- Rewarding and challenging hike
- Views of Ben Lomond, Coronet Peak and Mount Earnslaw
- Alpine flowers and flora
- Views down to Lake Alta
- Scenic drive up the Remarkables
- Hotel transfers from Queenstown
- Experienced & qualified guide
- Picnic lunch
MORE INFORMATION & ITINERARY
Remarkables Queen’s Drive Day Hike
The Queen’s Drive at the top of Remarkables is a fun and very rewarding challenge for less experienced hikers, yet there’s plenty here for more experienced trekkers to sink their teeth into. The ever-changing textures underfoot lead to a feast of dramatic panoramas around each bend and nothing else compares in terms of alpine scenery.
We will pick you up from your hotel in Queenstown and start by driving 13km up the scenic Remarkables Ski field road and quickly gain 1600m without even breaking a sweat. Although there’s convenient access, the loop I’ll take you on is not marked, so we don’t often encounter other hikers until the last section when it meets up with the more popular Lake Alta trail.
It’s a steady walk uphill on a gravel maintenance road for the first 45 minutes or so to reach the ridge on the western side of the Remarkables. Up on the ridge line, the views open up quite dramatically as the terrain drops away sharply. It’s hard to believe we only left Queenstown a short while ago and yet the hustle and bustle now feel as far away as it looks from way up here.
If that climb didn’t get your heart pumping, the uninterrupted view of Lake Wakatipu on our right, 1700m below the exposed ledge we’re carefully negotiating now should do the trick. Above us, the clouds scrape along the tops of jagged peaks just beyond reach.
The rocky trail fades out at the edge of a vast boulder field. It’s natural to tense up as the uneven terrain tests your balance, but take a deep breath and relax into it; your boots have more grip than you may think. Once you get the hang of rolling and jumping from edge to edge, it becomes a sort of moving meditation. Don’t think and simply allow your legs to keep moving forward fluidly across the tops of the broken slabs in your own rhythm.
As there’s no set track, the Queen’s Drive hike is slightly different each time, which is part of its appeal. We’ll cut across to the left once we spot a large rocky outcropping and then it’s only a bit further to the picnic spot. We’ll enjoy lunch with yet another jaw-dropping view down the glacier-carved Wakatipu Basin dotted with tarns. We have plenty of time to soak in the views of Ben Lomond, Coronet Peak, Mount Earnslaw and even the peaks of Fiordland beyond and have a closer look at the sub-alpine plants.
After a rejuvenating rest, it’s not far to scramble up to our highest point of the day, a flat spot on the ridge at 2200m that’s sometimes used as a helipad. From here we can see Lake Alta, a picturesque alpine lake below us. It’s time to switch muscles as we wind our way downhill through the tussocks back to where we started and we will then drop you back at your hotel in Queenstown.
Walking the Queen’s Drive is always a day to remember. Now each time you look up at the Remarkables, you’ll see a trace of our route like a scar just below the ridgeline and marvel at its rugged beauty with a deeper appreciation and sense of pride.
What to wear and bring for a day hike
MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS – Some items we may be able to provide it to you, other items can be hired in Queenstown, please contact us for more informations
- Jacket/Coat – wind and waterproof with hood
- Boots – sturdy, good fit, protected with dressing/polish
- Treking pants/trousers
- Top/ shirt – quick drying sports or hiking tops are best.
Avoid cotton as although cool in the summer, it can be cold when wet or sweaty
- Walking socks
- Warm hat, beanie or balaclava and gloves or mittens
Even in summer the weather can turn cooler in the evenings
- Mid layer pullover: fleece tops or polartec type are ideal (light and quick drying)
Cotton hoodies are not as warm and heavy when wet
- Day pack – ideally with a waterproof liner
Pack should be light, strong and comfortable approx. 20-40 litres to carry your water bottle, sunscreen, insect repellant, camera, snacks and extra clothing/ waterproof
- Drink Bottle
We can normally fill up along the way in streams so 1 litre is normally sufficient
- Personal medication if required
- Insect repellent
- Sunscreen, lip balm and sunhatOPTIONAL SUGGESTIONS
- Gaiters or Puttees – to keep out water and gravel
- Thermals – long sleeved top and long johns (quick drying)
The kiwi way is to wear them under shorts and t shirts
- Over trousers – waterproof and windproof, essential if you get cold quickly
- Blister plasters/band-aid or tape
Although we do carry a first aid kit too
- Camera, spare batteries and spare memory card
- Small day pack for personal items
- Waterproof jacket
- Walking shoes
- Warm clothes (layers are best)
- Insect repellent
- Water bottle
- Gaiters (optional)