Ive always been a nature lover and an avid admirer of a beautiful view or place. New Zealand takes this love to a whole new level. The views, the diversity of the landscape, the people and the mountains. No matter the weather in this place it always looks beautiful. I have fallen in love with this country. I have a new found respect for landscapes and new places and I crave the days we can walk and drive to find these.
Being based in Queenstown was ideal for us when we first arrived last July as our first objective was to learn to snowboard which by the end of the season was accomplished. This is also where my love for the mountains came from, spending every weekend high above the clouds and racing each other down the hill. It is only six weeks till the snow takes over Queenstown again and I think we are the only people actively wishing for it. When the snow ended in September we needed to find something else to fill our weekends and as were too poor to own a boat or other lake fun paraphernalia, we turned our attention to the DOC site. The department of conservation in New Zealand is amazing. They provide a full list, maps and advice about all the trails they have their name too, just go on the website and type in your location and an extensive list of all different graded tracks comes up. Our first ever hike was in Wanaka so it was time to look up the hikes in Queenstown, equally as challenging and amazing. When you stand in Queenstown CBD and look up you will see the Gondola, above that is Ben Lomond. The big pointy facade is iconic to Queenstown and many people stick it on their list of things to do. Now theres two ways you can tackle Ben Lomond, you can ‘cheat’ and catch the Gondola up but we were being avid hikers for the day and took the route right from the ground. The start is The Tiki Trail which leads to the skyline building and then links up with the rest of the track, we have walked the tiki trail before and I remember it being pretty steep, yep I remembered right. We somehow managed to get to the top in about 40 mins, I think maybe because we left a little later than anticipated and this trail wasn’t new to us so I didn’t have to stop and take thousands of photos, much to Robbie’s delight.
Off we go, the accent to the summit. I am in no way an experienced hiker nor do I think I am physically fit enough to do all these walks until I have completed them and proudly tell myself it wasn’t that bad as I descend. Ben Lomond is pretty awesome, the views on the way up and looking back down onto the shrinking town below is the motivation you need to push you to the top. I wasn’t as much as a baby on this hike and managed to even carry the bag for a while. The whole time we are walking up I am saying to Robbie ‘look not that much further’ pointing to our right, it didn’t look as steep and it looked more inviting than previous tracks… I was wrong, I was so wrong. When we reached the saddle, pulled up a pew and wolfed down our snacks I was looking at the mountain to the left and the tiny dots of people scaling the ridge line, THAT was Ben Lomond and we were soon to be one of those little dots, sorry nice rounded hill next to us, we may climb you another time. Oh Jesus, after double checking with some people coming down, Are you sure it is the one to the left? They assured us that we were on the right path. Off we went to tackle what my mind and body was ill prepared for, I had multiple rests and very very nearly gave up. This is going back to me thinking I am fitter than I actually am. When you get closer to the top it becomes a little bit more technical, you have to climb and use your hands to steady yourself, take huge steps over rocks and seriously watch your footing. I am in no way trying to deter anyone from doing this hike, just be aware it aint no Sunday stroll.
So we can see the top and for some reason Robbie full on turned rock climbing extraordinaire and took us up the rocks, if I didn’t follow his every step I would of fallen and that would of been the end of my adventure. He must of just not seen the path that wound nicely up to the top and fancied a go at rock climbing OR he’d had enough of me moaning so thought this was the quickest way to get me to the top, fed and watered.
We seriously took our time up here as I was in no hurry to tackle that again anytime soon. You can literally see for miles, the whole lake, The Remarkables and the Southern Alps blanketing the landscape behind us. Mother Nature was sure putting on a show for us today. Now we have learnt that getting down is just as challenging on your body as getting up there. I am somewhat a Grandma, I have bad knees and zero balance so for me its super tricky but I can’t see to be lagging behind so I full on power down behind Robbie. Back at the saddle it was time to race each other to the skyline cafe for a much deserved ice cream… HOWEVER me being me and useless at directions we managed to somehow veer so far right we ended up taking a different route down that eventually met up with the bottom half of the Tiki Trail, but we made it and I got my ice cream from Patagonia and enjoyed it at the lake instead! Another successful hike and one more thing ticked off our to do list!