At the base of the Queenstown Skyline Gondola, you’ll find the famous Tiki Track!

This trek takes you through the forest zig-zagging up the mountain to the top of the skyline gondola where you can find many fun adventure activities such as trying out the luge (no, it’s not just for kids), mountain biking, and even zip-lining.

The Tiki Track also leads to the start of many other awesome hikes such as the popular Ben Lomond, Tyne’s Looking, and the Fernhill Loop track!

In this post we’ll dive into the Tiki Track and what you can expect from this short but sweet hike right in the heart of Queenstown!

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Everything you need to know about Tiki Track near Queenstown

This is definitely one of the more popular hiking trails in Queenstown simply because of how close it is to town and because of all the activities at the top of the gondola.

Taking the gondola is by far the easier and quicker way to get up the mountain but if you’re looking for an adventure then the Tiki Trail is a whole lot of fun.

If you want some exercise or save some money on riding up the Queenstown Gondola then this is a great alternative. If you’re on a budget, this way you can spend your money on some of the other adventures up on the mountain.

Plus it’s also a beautiful trail that zig zags up the mountain through the forest. Once you get to the top the view is quite rewarding. We also stopped and took in the view about halfway up as we got to an opening where a rainbow was showing over Lake Wakatipu.

This trail is a great option for a morning or afternoon hike if you’re looking for something outdoorsy to do in Queenstown. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can combine the Tiki Track with the Ben Lomond Track. We did this back in 2017 and it was a FULL day but it was such a good time!

PS: There is a restaurant, viewing deck, and toilet at the top of the hike where you can hang out and relax (and try out the luge) before making your way back down or onto your next adventure.

Practical information about the Tiki Track in Queenstown

Distance: 4.5 km return / 2.8 miles return
Elevation: 439 m / 1440 ft. elevation gain
Type: In-and-out trail
Length: 2.0-2.5 hours return (+ time at the top) 
Difficulty: Moderate (it’s steep but not that long of a trail)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Click here to see a trail map of the Tiki Track near Queenstown

Hiking Tip: Look up the trail on AllTrails before starting your hike 🗺️. You can find important trail information such as recent wildlife sights and trail closures. Check out the free version here or get a 7-day free trial of AllTrails+ here.

Here’s a picture of the beginning of the Tiki Track in Queenstown

The Tiki Track officially starts by the Skyline Gondola in Queenstown
However, when we went, they had set up a reroute to the trailhead. There are signs like this you can follow.

Starting the Tiki Track in Queenstown

And so the hike begins!

The beauty of this hike is that you can access it by foot from anywhere in Queenstown. On our most recent visit to Queenstown, we stayed at a hostel in the centre, so we just walked for 10 minutes to the trailhead.

To get to the trailhead, make your way to the Queenstown Skyline Gondola and next to Boydtown Cemetery, you’ll find the trailhead for the hike.

The trail is pretty easy to find but in case you’re not sure you can always check back on the AlltTails map here for the Tiki Track to make sure you’re at the right spot – or even better, ask a local!

The reason why we say ask a local is because in early 2024 there was some construction going on next to the gondola, so the access to trailhead had temporarily been changed. Instead of accessing it right by the gondola, we had to walk around the cemetery and then we could start the hike.

Once you’re in the forest it’s pretty straightforward. Just follow the trail to the top (and you can always use this guide if you need specific directions).

Through the forest above Queenstown

One thing we want to mention is that this trail can get very busy. As we mentioned before, the Tiki Track is also the start of the Ben Lomond trail for those people who are as adventurous as us who don’t take the gondola up to the official starting point.

The trail is also filled with locals walking their dogs, mountain bikers, and other hikers.

The Tiki Trail is short but steep and you’ll definitely feel it right from the beginning as it almost instantly starts with an incline. The trail is well-marked and the surface is easy enough to talk on but with some roots here and there – so make sure you look down every once in a while.

As you walk on the trail, you’ll be in between the trees so you’re not going to be exposed to too much sun at the beginning. Bring a light layer to keep yourself warm, even though we’re sure you’ll work your way to the heat as you hike up to the gondola!

Once you get to the top, we’re sure you’ll not want to wear that layer anymore though as you’ll have worked up a sweat and hopefully the sun is out as well once you’re out of the trees.

There really is only one main trail that takes you up so it’s quite easy to follow the Tiki Trail only with a few smaller trails connecting with it – but just look out for the signs and the bigger trail as you go up. There will be a few staircases you have to hike up as well.

You might also notice groups of zipliners above you as you’re hiking up through the trees. Some say the Queenstown area is the adventure capital of New Zealand and we couldn’t agree more!

There are so many cool outdoor activities, especially adrenaline-filled ones you can do here.

Funny story: We were once told by a local that this hike is so easy that his 90-year-old grandma could do it. All we have to say is… His grandma must’ve been VERY fit! 👵🏼

The final stretch to the top of the Tiki Track

After the few staircases, you’ll slowly make your way into a bit of an opening. You’ll see the Queenstown Skyline Gondola above you as people make their way to the top.

Once you see this you’ll know there isn’t far to go. Only a few more zig-zags and you’ll find yourself surrounded by tourists again who are all on their way to try out all the fun adrenaline activities you can do on the mountain.

The Tiki Track ends basically once you get to the modern Gondola building that’s perched at the top of the hill.

From there you can continue on towards Ben Lomond (or one of the other hikes) or you can just take in the view as this is where the Tiki Track ends.

Before making your way back down to Queenstown

If you’re up for it, we recommend checking out some of the fun adventure activities you can do up on the mountain before heading back down.

We’ve done the Queenstown Luge a few times now and every single time it’s a bunch of fun! And no, it’s not just for kids! There are helmets in every size which is proof that adults can do it too. Right? 😉

You can see the prices for the Queenstown Luge here. Please note that the pricing list on their website shows the combined price of the gondola and the luge. It is possible to do the luge without paying for the gondola as well.

For the luge, we paid $78 NZD for 3 rides each (6 rides total). This was in early 2024.

There’s also a restaurant and cafe up at the gondola building with a stunning viewing platform which offers amazing views overlooking Queenstown. You’ll be able to see Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, the top of Queenstown Hill and Sugar Loaf as well.

Enjoy the view, grab a cup of coffee, and make sure you try out the luge before you make your way back down. And if your legs are tired, it’s also possible to take the gondola down.

Make your way back down the Tiki Track trail

Once you’ve taken it all in and maybe gotten a dose of adrenaline you can make your way back down the mountain.

It’s an in-and-out trail so you’ll be going back the same way you came up. The trip back will likely be a bit quicker as it’s mostly downhill all the way back to the trailhead. Make sure you’re careful if the trail is muddy.

Enjoy the peace and quiet of nature (and the laughs from people zip-lining) because as soon as you get out of the forest you’ll be back surrounded by a ton of tourists and travellers enjoying Queenstown.

The contrast between the two is crazy and that’s why we love taking the harder and less busy routes sometimes as you get to experience the quieter side of New Zealand even when it’s crazy busy!

📍 Want to know about all the best spots in Aotearoa New Zealand?
Then check out our New Zealand Maps with +200 locations around the country that we have visited during our 8 months of living and travelling in NZ! 🗺️

What to bring on the Tiki Track

This is a relatively short hike and you’re never far from a toilet or a place where you can buy food and water.

For that reason, you definitely don’t need to bring as much stuff as you would on a full-day hike – but it’s still good to come prepared! Below you can find a list of the things we suggest you bring.

Packing list for Tiki Track trail:

  • Water! We always fill up our LifeStraw bottles before hikes and day trips – and even during them when we can. 
  • Sunscreen! If you spend some time at the top of the mountain it’s worth bringing some as the UV in NZ gets very high. 
  • We brought our hiking poles on this trail and we’re really glad we did. This isn’t a very long hike but it is steep and hiking poles came in handy on the Tiki Track.
  • A power bank is good to bring as well. Especially if you plan to take lots of pictures and videos.
  • Definitely bring some snacks or lunch to enjoy at the top overlooking Queenstown. You can also grab some food at the restaurant up on the mountain.
  • Any extra clothes in case it gets a little chilly up at a higher elevation. Maybe a rain jacket too if the forecast has any precipitation in it.

Also read: The Ultimate Packing List for Your New Zealand Trip

Before you make your way up to the Queenstown Skyline

Check the weather

Weather definitely plays a factor on this hike but it’s not as big of a deal as you’re covered for most of the trail. The main thing to look out for would just be how muddy the trail is.

The downside if the weather isn’t great is that some of the activities you can do up on the mountain may be closed. It’s a good thing to factor in if you want to bungee jump or ride the luge. 

When we hiked it the most recent time there was a bit of a sprinkle most of the way up. Thankfully we were covered in the trees so we didn’t get too wet which was nice. And we got to see a nice rainbow at an opening!

You can see the weather prediction for Queenstown here.

Wear hiking shoes

We always recommend wearing hiking shoes or trail shoes when hiking in New Zealand – this one included!

There is quite a bit of the trail that’s either on a dirt trail or in the trees where it can get muddy if it rains (or has rained recently). Wearing proper footwear will definitely come in handy on this one.

If you don’t have any hiking shoes, you can check out the Newton Ridge hiking shoes from Columbia. Jo got these recently and she loves them!

When we hiked the Tiki Trail, there were quite a few sections that were pretty muddy due to the fact it had rained a bit. As we said, it’s mostly a dirt trail in the forest so plan accordingly!

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Leave no trace

When you go hiking (and do other outdoor adventure activities), always remember to follow the 7 principles of leaving no trace.

This means:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Dispose of waste properly.
  4. Leave what you find.
  5. Minimize campfire impacts.
  6. Respect wildlife.
  7. Be considerate of others.

Frequently asked questions about this hike

When is the best time to hike up the Tiki Track?

This is a great hike to do first thing in the morning before all the tourists get up to the Queenstown Skyline.

If you set off on a nice morning during the summer season you can easily get there before the masses start coming on the gondolas.

This way you’ll have a nice peaceful walk in the forest – and once you’re at the top it won’t be too busy either and you can enjoy the panoramic view without all the crowds.

How do I get to the Tiki Track trailhead?

The trailhead is a short 10-15 minute walk from Queenstown Bay Beach. If you’re anywhere downtown Queenstown it will be even shorter.

It’s probably best to walk there if you can as there isn’t really any car parking at the trailhead other than a few paid parking lots nearby that fill up quickly.

You can see how to get to Tiki Track from Queenstown here.

Where to stay in Queenstown?

Let’s be honest, Queenstown does get extremely pricey – especially during the summer months. It’s not unusual to pay $300 NZD per night for a hotel room during peak season.

So if you’re not camping at one of the campsites or couch surfing, accommodation can be quite pricey.

Thankfully, Queenstown has quite a few really good hostels that are a bit more affordable. The hostels are also mainly located downtown and very close to the Tiki Track trailhead so it’s convenient to stay at one of them during your time here.

We’ve tried out at least 5 different hostels in Queenstown as we used to live nearby (in Milford Sound) and below we’ve listed 3 of the hostels we think are the best in town! These are:

If you’re more of a hotel person, you can also browse other places of accommodation on this map:

📍 Want to know about all the best spots in Aotearoa New Zealand?
Then check out our New Zealand Maps with +200 locations around the country that we have visited during our 8 months of living and travelling in NZ! 🗺️

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Recap of hiking the Tiki Track in Queenstown

We’ve done our fair share of hikes near Queenstown and this is probably the most convenient one to do since it’s short and you don’t need a car to get to the trailhead. 

It’s a great 2-hour hike that’s located right next to the centre of Queenstown which will take you up to a beautiful viewpoint. The trail itself isn’t the most beautiful we’ve done but it gets you away from all the crowds for a while which is nice since Queenstown does get very busy.

If you have any questions about hiking Tiki Track, how to get there, what else to do in the Queenstown area, or anything else, feel free to DM us on Instagram or leave a comment below!

We hope you have an amazing time exploring Queenstown and all the fun things there are to do around here! It’s one of our favorite places on earth and we love sharing everything about this beautiful country. 

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  1. Liz on June 5, 2024 at 4:15 pm

    This trail + place looks so fun! Thanks for sharing. Hope to make it to Queenstown in the future.

    • redwhiteadventures on June 6, 2024 at 9:19 am

      It was! We’ve done it twice now and it definitely got harder lol. You’re going to love it though. Queenstown is such a fun and vibrant town with endless of hikes and things to do!
      – Jo

  2. Lita on June 7, 2024 at 2:34 am

    Okay last time I went to New Zealand, I did the gondola up, but I would love to do the hike to the top! This is such incredible information and I love that one shot with a rainbow.

    • redwhiteadventures on June 7, 2024 at 9:29 am

      Hey Lita,

      Next time you guys go ya definitely gotta do the Tiki Track trail instead! If you’re not feeling like hiking down you can always take the gondola down instead!

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