The Tiki Trail is one of Queenstown’s best hikes. Also known as the Queenstown Gondola Hike, the trail switchbacks up through the pine forest below the Queenstown gondola until it reaches Bob’s Peak.
As a Queenstown local, I’ve personally been up to Bob’s Peak via the Tiki Trail a few times. On hikes to Ben Lomond Summit, I always use the Tiki Trail, and even just to watch the sunset over Queenstown, I’ll make the short grind to the top.
Although the Tiki Trail is an easy to moderate hiking trail, there are a few things you should still know before you go. In this blog, I’ll tell you about it all including things like parking (which is a nightmare in Queenstown) and the best things to do at the top.
Tiki Trail Overview
Distance: 2.1 kilometers one way (1.3 miles)
Elevation gain: 450 meters (1,476 feet)
Time needed: 3 hours up and back with time at the top.
Type of trail: Point to point
The Tiki Trail is a short hike located within walking distance of Queenstown. The trail is not overly difficult, but it does climb 450 meters (1,476 ft) in elevation over a very short distance. I don’t consider the Tiki Trail an easy hike in Queenstown, in fact, I find the trail quite tiring. With that said, it only takes an hour to 90 minutes (depending on the day I’m having) to reach the top. And on the way down, 30 minutes is more than enough time!
One great thing about hiking the Tiki Trail is that you’ll save money by skipping the gondola. Although a nice ride, for some, saving the extra money and enjoying a beautiful hike is much more rewarding and I couldn’t agree more!
A very similar hike to the Tiki Trail is Queenstown Hill. Although slightly longer it s a much easier trail to hike especially for families.
Tiki Trail FAQs
What to Pack
Runners – Hiking shoes are not necessary on the Tiki Trail unless you are hiking in winter (one of the best hikes you can do in Queenstown in the winter.) If you are, be prepared for icy conditions and snow at the top.
Water – 1 liter is usually fine for me especially if I’m hiking in the morning, which I usually do!
Hiking poles – The climb up the Tiki Trail is steep and for those with bad knees, hiking poles would be a great idea.
Money – You can buy food and drinks as well as a huge range of activities at the Skyline building atop the Tiki Trail. Be sure to bring some money along so you don’t miss my favorite activity… the Luge!
Related Read: Visiting the Skyline building at the top of Bob’s Peak is one of the 15 best indoor activities in Queenstown – find out what the rest are!
Parking and the Tiki Trail Trailhead
The Tiki Trail starts from the end of Brecon Street at the bottom of the Queenstown gondola. Here at the gondola, there is 4-hour maximum parking. If you only plan on hiking the Tiki Trail and spending an hour or so at the top, then this parking is fine to use (just be sure to keep track of time.) There are limited parking spots so getting there early is smart!
If you want to spend longer hiking or relaxing at the top, then it’s best to find alternative parking or walk from your hotel. If you’re driving, consider parking on Man Street. This street is considered residential so you can park all day for free. Parking in Queenstown is a huge problem so my number one recommendation is to walk from your hotel or catch the bus.
Once at the gondola, finding the trail is super easy. On your right, you’ll have the gondola ticket office and the start of the Tiki Trail to your left. If you can’t find it, just ask the ticket office and they’ll be happy to point it out.
Hiking Up to Bob’s Peak
Now begins the steep climb up the Tiki Trail! I will pre-warn you, some sections are really steep and will sure take the wind out of your sails! However, there are plenty of great places to rest!
The first part of the trail is the worst in my opinion. I find that with every hike. Once I warm up though and get those legs moving, I find my rhythm.
The trail is completely shaded by pine trees which I love! However, as the climb continues, keep an eye out for those breaks in the trees so you can enjoy spectacular views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.
After around an hour of hiking, you’ll think the trail never ends. Trust me, I’ve been there. Thankfully, the Tiki Trail does eventually end as you reach the Skyline building on Bob’s Peak. At the end of the trail, simply turn right and walk over the Skyline building. Here you can explore, eat, enjoy the views, or experience one of the awesome activities I’ve mentioned below!
Not everybody wants to go hiking through a forest up a steep trail. There’s nothing wrong with that. I have personally taken the gondola up to Bob’s Peak many times – I actually have a locals season pass. Riding the gondola is actually one of the most popular activities to do in Queenstown.
The only downside to riding the gondola is that it costs money. The gondola costs $46 NZD for adults and $32 for children. Each ticket includes the return trip and they have lots of cool package add-ons that include luge rides and buffet dinners (the restaurant is amazing!) Unfortunately, they only offer one-way passes (which are cheaper) down, not up.
Although on the gondola you won’t get to enjoy the Tiki Trail, you’ll still get the breathtaking views of Queenstown and save your legs at the same time.
8 Things to do at the Top of the Tiki Trail
Mountain biking – Mountain biking is one of the most popular activities during the summer in Queenstown. In fact, the gondola is used by mountain bikers to get to the top of Bob’s Peak where they hit the many downhill trails in the area. It’s easy to do and you can get day passes for the gondola as well as bike rentals in town. There are lots of different bike trails in Queenstown, and the ones from Bob’s Peak are just the start!
Ziplining – The ziplining at the top of the Tiki trail has always caught my eye. It really looks like so much fun! Despite the ziplines not being overly long, this tour is about the views, and on such a steep hill, you feel like you’re so much higher!
Stargazing – I actually did stargazing one night on the Skyline tour. Unfortunately, the weather was terrible so we instead did an inside experience (they did give us the option to cancel for a refund) where we learned about the stars and galaxy. Still, I want to get back up there to try it with clear skies and the actual telescope.
Luge rides – The Queenstown Luge is by far the highlight of Skyline. This gravity go-kart track is so much fun! At the top, you can buy tickets for the Luge and my only recommendation is to get a multi-ride pass. You can also buy combo tickets for the Luge and dinner in advance. After your first go (which you’re required to go on the slow track) you’ll want to hit the fast track! It’s a fun adventurous thing to do in Queenstown that I highly recommend.
Paragliding – Paragliding is one of the best ways to enjoy a unique view of Queenstown that very few get to see. The best part? The paragliding tours in Queenstown leave from the Skyline building. You’ll literally run off the edge of a cliff before your parachute will catch the thermals coming off the mountain and glide you through the air. A pretty cool experience if you ask me!
Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar – Remember when I mentioned the amazing buffet dinner above! Well, I honestly can’t recommend it enough. The food is really good quality and the views are spectacular. Be sure to book in advance if you want a table with the best views. If you don’t want to eat, then just get a drink at the bar and enjoy the view.
Aj Hacket Bungy – Yep, that’s right, Aj Hacket doesn’t just have the Nevis and Kawarau Bridge Bungy, they also have a bungy right in Queenstown. The best part though? You get to jump over Queenstown quite literally!
Fun Fact: The majority of the world uses the spelling “bungee”, but New Zealanders (who claim to be the inventors of the sport) spell it “bungy”.
Continue onto Ben Lomond Track – If you want to turn this short hike into an awesome full-day adventure, then continue hiking onto the Ben Lomond Track. It starts just past the end of the Tiki Trail and from Queenstown it takes around 7 hours to complete if you plan on summiting. if you want more info, I wrote a great guide to the Ben Lomond Track that includes all the info you need the same as in this blog.
Essential Info to Remember
Bring money – If you want to buy something at Skyline then you’ll need money. Oh and don’t stress, they take card!
You can take the gondola down – Let’s say you hike up the Tiki Trail but can’t really be bothered hiking back down. Well, the good news is you can take the gondola down as they offer one-way down tickets. Unfortunately going up you have the buy the standard return ticket.
Allow more time than you think – Once you get to the top, you can easily lose track of time while enjoying the Luge or some drinks.
Parking – It’s best to avoid the need for parking. Honestly, it’s a nightmare in Queenstown. Instead, plan to stay somewhere close to Queenstown town center.
Must-Do Activities While in Queenstown
While in Queenstown there are plenty of other activities that will keep you busy… honestly there are so many it’ll be hard to choose which ones to do! Below are some of my favorites.
- Central Otago Wine Tour and Tasting – This is our personal favorite wine tour in Queenstown! It is one of the best values for money, for $204 NZD your tour bus will stop at 4 different boutique wineries in the Otago region that include a wide range of wine samples and a provided gourmet lunch platter. As you hop between wineries you’ll gaze out the window at spectacular views.
- TSS Earnslaw Steamship Cruise – This scenic and relaxing cruise in Queenstown is an activity great for any afternoon. The ship you will be cruising on is the Historic TSS Earnslaw and you will get to watch crew members add coal to the flames that power the vessel. Take in the mountain ranges and lush green valleys of Otago. You can also upgrade this tour here to include dinner at Walter Peak High Country Farm.
- Queenstown Canyoning Adventure – Climb and jump off waterfalls, rappel, swim, and trek your way down a part of a Queenstown canyon with a qualified guide. This thrilling full-day activity is perfect for those who love adventure and exploration! As long as you aren’t afraid of heights and have a basic swimming ability you won’t need any other skills.
- Day Trip to Milford Sound With Picnic Lunch – This tour will give you the ultimate ability to explore the beauty of Milford Sound in Fjordland National Park. Not only will your guide stop at several impressive viewpoints on the way from Queenstown but there is also a Milford Sound cruise included. This small-group tour goes for $249 NZD a person and I think it’s a really great value for a more personalized experience.
- Extreme Jet Boating – Looking for a thrill? Jet Boating is one of New Zealand’s most unique activities. On the tour out of Queenstown, you’ll be able to zoom up the Shotover River through narrow canyons at high speeds and make 360-degree spins. Trust, me it’s epic!
Where to Stay in Queenstown
Finding the right place to stay in Queenstown can be hard. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of awesome choices but things book up fast! For that reason, I highly suggest booking your accommodation well in advance. It’s not that you won’t find something later on, but that all the really good places go first!
To get you started, here are a few places I personally love and that would make an awesome place to stay in Queenstown.
The first is for budget travelers and that’s Absoloot Hostel Queenstown. This small hostel has dorm rooms and budget privates and it’s really clean and comfortable. The location is in the heart of Queenstown – the window from the kitchen looks out over Lake Wakatipu! It is easily one of the top cheap hostels in Queenstown.
If you have a little more money to spend then you should seriously consider Chalet Queenstown. I’m a supporter of smaller hotels because I feel you get better service. Based on recommendations, I stayed at Chalet Queenstown when I first arrived. It’s a beautiful hotel in a quiet but close location and the views are amazing (although you won’t find me recommending a place without great views!)
If you’re one of the lucky ones, you know the luxury travelers, then you’re going to be spoiled for choice in Queenstown. I’ve personally stayed at the Hilton Resort and Spa on my anniversary and loved it. If you want an even more luxurious stay, look at Kamana Lakehouse. This hotel has the most beautiful spa overlooking the lake and is definitely one of the best hotels in Queenstown.
There are also lots of amazing Airbnbs in Queenstown as well as bach/holiday homes to rent! You can choose between modern homes, central apartments, cozy cabins, and so much more when staying in an Airbnb.
Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand
Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!
You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:
- Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to book a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
- Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It is what most budget backpackers get for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping! You can easily compare campervans, prices, and book on the website Motorhome Republic. We also have a 5% discount code (DTRAVEL5) with Mad Campers, which you can use at checkout.
- Motorhome – A motorhome is larger and more comfortable than a campervan. Many motorhomes will comfortably sleep 6 or more people – perfect for a family visiting New Zealand. Motorhomes are the most expensive option, but with one, you won’t ever need to stay in a hotel and you’ll save money that way. Motorhome Republic is my suggested website for booking a motorhome in New Zealand simply because they are a reliable company and the website is super easy to use! We are also partnered with Kiwi Motorhomes, which is well known as the top motorhome rental company in New Zealand. You can get 5% off using the code Queen5. For more detailed info, read my complete guide to renting a motorhome in New Zealand!
Thanks for Reading!
The Tiki Trail in Queenstown is really a great short hike with a very rewarding view. Although it can be challenging, it’s over so quickly! I also love the fact that it’s a free activity in Queenstown and that I can use the money I’ve saved on the gondola on more Luge rides. Yep, that’s right, you might even see me on the track – just watch out, I’m kind of crazy in my cart!
Thanks so much for reading my guide to the Tiki Trail. I hope you enjoy the hike and Bob’s Peak at the top.
You don’t have to leave now though, in fact, this blog is quickly becoming one of Queenstown’s most detailed travel blogs filled with unbiased recommendations, tips, and money-saving tricks! You can check out all our blogs by navigating the menu bar above or you can check out all of our Queenstown hike blogs here!
Here are a few specific reads that you might find interesting!