A panoramic view of the surrounding mountains on the Mt Crichton Loop Track
Things to do

Hiking the Mt Crichton Loop Track

Guide by Roxanne de Bruyn

Last Updated 23 August 2023

Just a short drive from the city centre is the alluring Mt Crichton Loop Track, one of Queenstown's favourite easy hikes.

Taking you on an 8km loop (around 5 miles) with an elevation gain of 370 meters (1,214 feet), the Mt Crichton Track is an easy-to-moderate hike. The track starts just 10-minutes from Queenstown along the Queenstown to Glenorchy highway, just a few minutes past the turnoff to Moke Lake.

Although it's not quite as awe-inspiring as hiking up Queenstown Hill or Ben Lomond, the Mt Crichton Loop Track gives visitors a relatively off-the-beaten-path experience devoid of tourist crowds. Suitable for families and casual walkers, the trail not only provides beautiful scenery but also offers a trip back in time into the town's rich gold mining history.

What makes this trail unique is its blend of natural beauty and historical importance. You’ll pass a stunning waterfall, a viewpoint overlooking the surrounding mountain peaks, an old mining tunnel, and the famous Sam Summers mining hut, a relic from Queenstown’s golden past.

View of Moke Lake on the Mt Crichton Loop Track

The trail

The track starts with a gradual incline following along the river. After around 30 minutes, you'll reach the first attraction, the old mining tunnel, providing a glimpse into Queenstown's gold rush era.

Next is the Sam Summers Hut, a living relic from the 1930s when Sam Summers and his family resided there while mining for gold. You can explore the interior of the hut, including the still-intact fireplace.

Continuing on the trail, you will encounter a waterfall near the hut. Afterwards, the trail follows a stream through the forest before ascending to a magnificent viewpoint overlooking Lake Wakatipu. This is a perfect spot to take a break and admire the view before embarking on the final stretch of the descent.

How long does the track take?

The track can be completed within 2-3 hours at a steady pace, making it suitable for the whole family, including pets. It's a relatively easy trek with a modest elevation gain spread over much of the trail, and the path is well-maintained and safe.

Though it can be hiked in either direction, going clockwise ensures an easier ascent to the trail's highest point, with the steeper section saved for the descent. It's a short and sweet adventure, perfect for a lovely day out in Queenstown.

Walking through the trees on the Mt Crichton Loop Track

The starting point

The Mt Crichton Loop Track starts from a parking lot just after the Twelve Mile Delta Campground on the Queenstown to Glenorchy highway. After crossing the highway, you'll arrive at a sign marking the start of the trail. We recommend going left across the bridge for an easier hike.

The parking lot is typically not crowded, but additional parking is available at the Twelve Mile Delta Campground if needed. From there, it's a 15-minute walk via a signposted connecting trail to the starting point. 

What to bring

The Mt Crichton Loop track is a relatively easy hike, but it’s still worth being prepared. Bring water with you and wear sunscreen, as a good portion of the track is unshaded and the sun can be harsh in New Zealand.

If you’re doing the walk in winter, hiking boots are advisable to navigate muddy parts of the trail. Otherwise, casual footwear should be fine at other times of the year.

In summary

The Mt Crichton Loop Track may not have the fame of Queenstown's other trails, but its blend of natural beauty and historical insights makes it a unique, rewarding experience. Perfect for families and those looking for a relaxed hike, the Mt Crichton Loop Track is a trail that reveals the lesser-known yet equally enchanting side of Queenstown.