Lake Alta Hike: Queenstown’s Top-Secret Alpine Day Track

The Lake Alta hike is a favourite amongst locals, but very few tourists have ever heard of it.

If you’re looking for amazing alpine scenery, views to die for and a good little workout, all without having to drive far from Queenstown, this Lake Alta hiking guide is for you!

Not only does the Lake Alta hike offer beautiful scenery, it also played host to filming during Lord of the Rings and during the winter, is part of a popular ski-field.  In the summertime though, it’s a relatively sleepy spot, and perfectly suited to a relaxed afternoon out (complete with a home-packed picnic).

Why not take some time out of your itinerary and make a quick little day trip just out of Queenstown?

Getting to the Start of the Lake Alta Track

Lake Alta is located within the Remarkables Ranges.  To access the start of the walking track, drive your rental car of Queenstown in the direction of the Remarkables.  Follow this road up to the top of the mountain, where you’ll find the ski-field carpark.

To make your hike easier, we recommend you park at the top carpark – the first part of the track isn’t particularly scenic so the further you can drive up, the better.  From this carpark, you’ll see a ‘public walking access’ sign – this is the start of the Lake Alta hike.

Walking the Lake Alta Track

This pretty alpine hike is a relatively easy one and will likely take between 30 and 45 minutes depending on your fitness.  The trail itself isn’t at all difficult to follow is there are other hikers out and about but it can be a little tricky to spot if you’re the only one there.

To make life nice and easy for you, we recommend you follow the following step-by-step instructions to get from the Lake Alta Remarkables carpark to the beautiful alpine lake below the summit.

  1. Walk up the gravel driveway, with the ski buildings on your right.
  2. Follow the path and cut up the stairs – there you’l find yourself at the bottom of the ski-field.
  3. Hike up this lower-part of the ski-field, heading towards the left.
  4. Join the smaller gravel trail, hiking upwards.  From here the hike is fairly obvious.
  5. Follow a gravel road to the top (this part is the steepest part of the hike).
  6. From there, cross the alpine wetlands and make your way up the hill.
  7. Turning to the right at the crest of the hill, you’ll see Lake Alta below you.

Lord of the Rings Photo Opportunities at Lake Alta

Of the main mountains tucked behind Lake Alta – Single Cone and Double Cone Peak – true fans will recognise the later from the first Lord of the Rings movie… specifically the moments right after the fellowship’s exit from the Mines of Moria.

Get your camera ready!

Where to Stop for Incredible Views on the Way Up/Down from Lake Alta

The view from the Remarkables are absolutely stunning and about half way up, you’ll find the perfect spot to stop for panoramic pictures.

Keep your eyes peeled for a trig station (painted black and white) – you’ll see it right in front of you, on the right hand side of the road.

Near the trig station, you’ll find a few make-do carparks where you can safely leave your car and walk the short distance up to the crest of the hill.  From there, you’ll be treated to million-dollar views out over Queenstown, the Shotover Canyon, the Southern Alps and, of course, Lake Wakatipu.

The Lake Alta track is close to Queenstown, fairly easy to hike and offers views of an incredible glacial lake (to seriously contend with the amazing hikes we completed in Peru; Laguna 69, Laguna Churup and Laguna Humantay).

Though you won’t find it in many tourist guidebooks, we certainly recommend you spend an afternoon venturing up there.

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