Sometimes you just want to know where some good views or lookouts are. Whether you are new to the area, or you’re just getting curious about your own backyard – it’s good to have a little list of lookouts available to visit when you find yourself in need of a good view. That’s why we, the Shotover Canyon Swing & Fox crew, decided to put a little list together of epic views so that you can simply pick and choose whatever sights you’d like to see. We made sure to get a good mix, too. Some involve walking, some involve hiking, some can be enjoyed by sitting in a car or gondola, and some bring in adventure! Have a read through our list and make sure your camera has a full battery in it.
This is one lookout that needs to be on your bucket list. It’s at the end of a three-hour return 500 metre (1640ft) climb, but we know that weak ascent won’t stop you from ticking this beauty off – because you are one tough, unstoppable beast of willpower! The Queenstown Hill Time Walk got its name because once you are standing at the top lookout you can see the past, the present, and the future Queenstown, in all its evolutionary glory. Once at the peak, you can spin in any direction and still have unobstructed views, but don’t spin too much! This isn’t a re-enactment of The Sound of Music and you are not Julie Andrews – although we have no doubt that your singing is equally as magical. Sitting atop the Queenstown Hill Time is the ‘Dream Basket’. A wonderful sculpture of iron created to pay homage to the busy bodied but beautiful area that is Queenstown. This view is absolutely a must-do – no trip to Queenstown is complete without it!
We know, we know – putting our very own canyon into this list is somewhat biased. BUT, if anyone knows how truly epic, and stunning, and just plain breath-taking the Shotover River Canyon view can be, it’s us! We see these beautiful views every single day and they never grow old. Picture this – a rapid flowing river with the grey blue hue of melted snow river slowing cutting its way through earth to create a twisting, ragged canyon covered in varying plant and animal wildlife. I mean, there is a very good reason that this river has plenty of platform lookouts built above it. The only thing that makes it better is hurtling through the air on the Flying Fox, with a bird’s eye view over the entire gorge! Every day, we hear from customers about how awesome their adventure was but that the scenery made it that much more enjoyable – and we completely agree! This view is a constant source of pride for the Canyon Swing and Fox crew; one that we will never tire of, and we feel you won’t either. So, if you’re looking for a lookout with a little bit of added adrenaline, then come check out the Shotover Canyon River!
Queen’s Drive leads to some truly epic lookouts. But that’s what happens when you walk around the top of a ski field mountain. After a 1-2hour walk through hardy, difficult, resilient terrain, hidden away in the heavens of the Remarkables mountain range, is a view truly fit for a Queen (or King, if you prefer). Standing 2,200m (7,218ft) into the skies, you can scan out across rivers, lakes, mountains, basins and on the good days the views can stretch all the way down to Fiordland. This view is something else, and absolutely one of our favourites. This lookout requires a higher-than-average fitness level, so it’s not suitable for everyone - but if you’re fit(ish) and feeling ready for an adventure and a royal lookout then head up to Queen’s Drive!
This lookout is so epic that Queenstown built a gondola solely so more people would be able to appreciate the beauty – now that’s the kind of intense enthusiasm that we can get behind. This 45-60minute walk will take you through a stunning, deep green enclosure of the Ben Lomond Reserve pine forest, gradually introducing you to better and better views until BAM! You’re at the top staring out over Queenstown, the Wakatipu, and the mountains that surround you. If walking isn’t your cup of tea, then take the sneaky gondola up to the top. We are here for the views, after all, not the sweat-generating workouts.
There are two lookout options for the Ben Lomond track. The first is the Ben Lomond Saddle, a 3-4 hour walk, or a 6-8 hour walk to the summit. There is also a cheeky little cheat in place – if you’re not keen on walking the whole way then you can take the gondola up as far as it goes, shaving a couple of hours off the walk. This is another stride which requires a good level of fitness, but if you’re the kind of bad-ass adventurer that we think you are, you’ll have no problem with the trip. At the summit, 1,748m (5,735ft), you’ll be standing on top of the world. Be sure to take snacks, this view is worth taking the time to admire.
A true ‘jewel’ of the crown, Lake Hayes encapsulates what it means to be a world class view. Take a 2-3 hour walk around the Lake Hayes loop or stop by the waterside and wonder how so many colours can be crammed into one view. Regardless of whichever season it is, the ‘Mirror Lake’ will put on quite the show for you. If you get this view on a still, calm day then you are in for a treat. There are also plenty of services around this area, such as restaurants, cafes, wineries – so this lookout can quite easily be turned into something very luxurious, with some fancy beers and wines to accommodate the scenery. Not a bad way to live, really.
The views surrounding Moke Lake provide massive rewards for very little effort – and sometimes that is exactly what you want. As a 2hour loop lookout walk, you will see big bold mountains stretching into the water, rolling hills of green grass, and the impressively picturesque Moke Lake. As a regularly chosen wedding spot, Moke Lake is definitely a site to behold. But knowing you, you crazy adventurer, you probably want more, don’t you? Well, ask and you shall receive. Pick a mountain around the lake, any mountain, and climb it. Viola - You have an even more epic view! (Sometimes being greedy pays off.)
That, ladies and gentlemen, concludes our list of epic views and lookouts around Queenstown. We hope some, if not all, options stood out as potential views for you to visit! There are plenty more amazing locations to see, both in and outside of Queenstown, so feed your inner adventurer up on courage and head off for some exploration of this incredible land. If you get stuck for adventure ideas, or you need your adrenaline fix, pop in and visit us at the Shotover Canyon Swing & Fox – we certainly know how to scare away your boredom and liven up your life!