Why you need to visit Ben Lomond Station

Walking through the tussocklands of Ben Lomond Station | Colin Monteath
Walking through the tussocklands of Ben Lomond Station | Colin Monteath

Located just a short drive from Queenstown, Ben Lomond Station is one of the few remaining high country stations owned and operated by New Zealanders. The private land is filled with old gold mining pack tracks, diverse landscapes and comfortable lodges making it the perfect place for hiking, relaxing and appreciating NZ's stunning beauty.

Here's 5 reasons to hike on Ben Lomond Station.
 


1. You'll be the only ones here


Yes you read that right. Ben Lomond Station is privately owned so there are no big crowds.


This is not to be confused with Ben Lomond Track which is owned by DOC and has public access. This is included on the last day of our Moonlight Valley and Ben Lomond Backcountry Hike.

 

2. The Landscapes

 
Moonlight Station (MSQ) |  <i>Colin Monteath</i>
 

  

There's no denying the landscapes are one of the main draw-cards to this 33,000 acre station. Where else can you experience expansive views of snow-capped ranges, sweeping tussocklands and beautiful beech forest all in one place?

Walk along tussock ridgelines high above the Shotover River, heli-hike along the sub-alpine flanks of Ben Lomond (1748m) and explore abandoned gold mining relics, water races, razorback ridges, and river valleys right until the finish.

The walking tracks are graded moderate to challenging and are best fit for experienced hikers. You'll follow sheep tracks and the trails of hardy miners who preferred to take the straight line route instead of switchbacks!

If you're looking for 'post-card' New Zealand without the crowds then you've found it.



3. The Foster Family


True, local kiwi hospitality can be hard to come by when travelling in New Zealand these days but there's no shortage of it here. John and Ginny Foster are the proud owners and managers of Ben Lomond Station. Originally farming a small coastal property in Golden Bay, they moved to the high country in 1987.

John and Ginny's son, Hamish Foster and wife Rachael have recently started running Moonlight Lodge. Hamish guides walks through the station and tells the unique high country story of farming super fine woolled merino sheep, while preserving the tussock lands. He also provides interpretation of old gold mining relics and huts left behind.



 
John and Ginny from Ben Lomond Station |  <i>Colin Monteath</i> Forgotten gold mining machinery from the 1800s gold rush. |  <i>Colin Monteath</i> Vast tussock lands of Ben Lomond Station |  <i>Colin Monteath</i>



4. The History

 
Reading about the mining history on the Moonlight Track |  <i>Colin Monteath</i>


Ben Lomond Station has been a key part of Queenstown's history for over 150 years. The station was part of a run that was over 200,000 acres and included all the land in this area east of Lake Wakatipu. The original run holder William Rees reportedly flipped a coin with early pioneer, Nicholas von Tunzelmann, to decide who got which side of the lake.

Follow the tracks of historic gold mining water races built 150 years ago passing through beech forest and tussock lands. During your walk you'll learn about the stations history and gold mining by the foster family themselves.

Fun fact: Over 3000 people lived in the Moke and Moonlight valleys during the gold rush. These rivers were some of the richest in the world.
 

 

5. Moonlight Lodge
 

Moonlight Lodge easily makes the list as one of NZ's most comfortable and secluded back-country lodges. Located deep in the Moonlight Valley, a 14km walk from the Shotover Valley will bring you to the comfort of the lodge. Fit with double/twin ensuite rooms, a spacious lounge, dining area with a licenced bar, large stone fireplace, and commanding views of the peaks that surround - you'll feel relaxed in no time.

To top things off, you'll experience true local hospitality with a delicious meal prepared by station owners, John and Ginny.

Adventure South NZ's Moonlight Valley and Ben Lomond Backcountry Hike spends 3 nights at Moonlight Lodge. 

 
Private Moonlight Lodge accommodation |  <i>Colin Monteath</i> A cup of tea and a biscuit is the perfect way to end a days walking! |  <i>Colin Monteath</i> Cosy accommodation at Moonlight Lodge |  <i>Hamish Foster</i>
 

What's included on our 5 day Moonlight Valley and Ben Lomond Backcountry Hike?

  • 5 days of epic walking
  • Delicious home cooked meals (4 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 4 dinners)
  • 3 nights at Moonlight Lodge
  • 1 night camping at Blue Jacket Hut
  • Scenic jetboat transfer on the Shotover River
  • Heli-hike to Ben Lomond Peak
  • Luggage transfers so you'll only carry what you need for the day
  • Private vehicle transport to trail head
  • Skyline Gondola decent into Queenstown at the end of the tour
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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