The Confluence Queenstown: Everything You Need to Know

the confluence queenstown

Just a short 10 minutes from the heart of Queenstown is a hidden gem, nestled amongst the forest, The Confluence. An absolute must-see during your time in Queenstown, this is the spot where two rivers collide to create a sight unlike any other. Largely unheard of, few people make the trip out to The Confluence but seeing the polluted, orange Queen River merge with the healthy, tannin-stained King River is a contrasting sight that we think everyone should see.

We’ve put together this guide to cover everything you need to know about The Confluence in Queenstown. We cover; how to get to The Confluence, whether you need a 4WD to get there, how long the hike to The Confluence is, how hard the hike is, when to do the hike, whether you need a map for the hike and more.

What is The Confluence in Queenstown?

The Confluence is the location where the Queen River meets the King River. The King River has healthy, cola-coloured water while the Queen River has unhealthy, polluted, orange water, creating a shocking scene as the contrasting rivers merge into one.

Why is the King River Brown?

The King River is brown and has a cola-like appearance due to peat-derived tannins that colour the water.

Why is the Queen River Orange?

The Queen River is connected to a creek where the Mount Lyell mine used to dump its tailings into. Between 1922-1994 more than 90 million tonnes of tailings were discharged into the river. These mine tailings are very rich in iron sulphide and are actively oxidising to the reddish-orange colour you see. In 1994 a proper tailings dam was built and dumping into the river ceased.

What did the Mount Lyell Mine Produce?

The Mount Lyell Mine produced over 12 billion dollars worth of copper, gold and silver during its 120-year life to 2014. While the mine is not operating currently (as of April 2024) there are talks of the mine reopening.

How do you Get to The Confluence in Queenstown?

You will need to drive to get to The Confluence in Queenstown, it’s a short 10-15 minute drive from the Queenstown town centre. From the town centre drive south along Driffield Street and continue straight as it changes into Conlan Street, Lynchford Road and Mount Jukes Road. The parking and trailhead are situated along Mount Jukes Road, approximately 10km from the town centre.

Don’t navigate to ‘The Confluence’ in Google Maps or this will try and take you to the end of the trail, past the trailhead and parking. Instead, navigate to ‘The Confluence Track Head’ in Google Maps (link is here) which will take you to a gravel pull off at the trailhead.

Keep an eye out for ‘the green tin man’ (a small tin cutout of a man outlined in bright green), this with signify the start of the trailhead. When you see the green tin man you’ll know you’re at the right spot.

the confluence queenstown trailhead

Is the Road to The Confluence Sealed?

Yes, the road that leads up to The Confluence trailhead (Mount Juke Road) is sealed. You do not need a 4WD to get to the trailhead as the road is suitable for all vehicles to drive on.

We drove to The Confluence trailhead in our LWB Mercedes Sprinter van and had no issues.

Is there Parking at The Confluence?

Yes, there’s a large gravel pull off on the side of Mount Juke Road where The Confluence trailhead begins.

The gravel pull off is wide enough for approximately 10 normal length cars to park forwards into. We were driving our LWB Mercedes Sprinter van so we parked parallel as far along the gravel pull off as possible. We’ve included a photo of our parking below, to fully grasp the size of the parking we’d recommend looking at our Queenstown YouTube video where we show it in detail.

If you’re towing a caravan we’d recommend leaving your caravan at your campsite if possible, particularly during peak season. While the parking area would fit two caravans parked parallel, it’s best to take up as little space as possible so others can fit in.

This gravel pull off is in good condition with no potholes or corrugations so is suitable for all vehicles to park at.

the confluence queenstown parking

Where does The Confluence Trail Start?

The Confluence trail starts at the gravel pull off, marked on Google Maps as the ‘The Confluence Track Head’. As mentioned previously, ‘the green tin man’ (a small cutout of a man outlined in bright green) signifies the start of the trailhead. Next to him is the trail, which starts as steps through a small gap in the surrounding bush.

the confluence queenstown trailhead

How Long is the Trail to The Confluence in Queenstown?

The Confluence trail is approximately 1.5km return.

How Long Does it Take to Hike to The Confluence?

The Confluence return trail takes around 30 minutes to 1 hour on average. The time it takes will vary depending on how long you spend at The Confluence and how often you stop to rest or take photos.

On our visit our total walking time was just under 30 minutes but we spent an hour and a half there total as we were filming.

How Hard is the Hike to The Confluence?

The Confluence trail would be classified as moderate difficulty. It’s a short trail with just a few short steep sections that would be suitable for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness and agility. The trail doesn’t include any rock scrambling or major inclines.

However, the trail can be extremely muddy and slippy after wet weather which would make it significantly more difficult and potentially dangerous (particularly after heavy rainfall).

Can Anyone do the Hike to The Confluence?

Anyone with a moderate level of fitness and agility can take on the trail and hike out to The Confluence. However, the trail has some steep sections and can be extremely slippy after wet weather which makes it significantly more difficult. To make the trail easier we’d recommend avoiding it during wet weather and waiting for a clear day.

As always, know your own limits, listen to your body and take your time. Don’t hesitate to stop frequently to catch your breath and have a drink break.

Unfortunately the trail is not wheel chair accessible.

Can Kids Hike to The Confluence?

Yes, kids can hike to The Confluence. As the trail has some steep sections and can get extremely muddy after rain we’d recommend trying to do the hike with kids during dry weather when the trail is easier.

When is the Best Time to do The Confluence Trail?

The Confluence trail is open 24/7 so you can start it at any time, the best time to start however is during daylight hours so you have good visibility. The trail is not a constructed path; it consists of steep steps, tree roots and ground that can be extremely muddy and slippy after wet weather so doing it in the dark would be dangerous.

If you’re visiting during Summer or on a hot day we’d typically recommend starting a hike early in the morning to avoid the intense heat that hits by midday. Almost the entire trail however is shaded by the surrounding trees so you can start the hike at anytime during the day without having to worry about overheating or getting burnt.

the confluence queenstown trees

When is the Best Time of Year to do The Confluence Trail?

The Confluence trail can be done all year round. Rather than recommending a specific season or month to do the hike we’d recommend you monitor the weather and attempt to do the hike when there has not been any heavy rainfall in the area. The trail has some steep sections and the ground is extremely soft, muddy and uneven. After heavy rainfall the trail would be significantly harder and potentially dangerous as the path becomes very slippy and muddy.

The west coast of Tasmania is known for it’s high rainfall so it would be hard to find a day to do the hike that is completely clear of rain. Some light rain should be fine as long as you have decent agility and grippy footwear. During heavy rainfall we’d recommend avoiding the hike completely and saving it for your next trip to Queenstown.

What Should I Expect on The Confluence Trail?

As mentioned previously, ‘the green tin man’ (a small cutout of a man outlined in bright green) signifies the start of the trailhead. Next to him is the trail, which starts as steps through a small gap in the surrounding bush. At the top of the steps, the trail will switch to a relatively flat path through the open forest.

This relatively flat path continues through the forest for quite awhile, the path has some inclines and declines but nothing too strenuous. Eventually the path will split into two, a tree in between the two paths will show a map of your current location. Go right to continue along the loop towards The Confluence.

the confluence queenstown trail map

A few minutes later you’ll reach a steep staircase down. The staircase consists of wood and metal grate steps with a handrail to hold onto for balance, the handrail is made of poly pipe.

After making your way down the steep steps you’ll arrive at a small open area with a picnic bench, an informational sign and a locked box. Open the locked box and stored within is a visitor book, make sure to sign the visitor book and read through comments left by fellow visitors. If the book is labelled as ‘book 3’ make sure to keep an eye out for the comment we left during our visit.

While you can see The Confluence through the trees at this small open area, there is another small steep staircase here that will take you down to the waters edge.

the confluence queenstown

Once you’ve taken in the views here at the waters edge, head back up to the small open area and follow the track along the King River. You will walk alongside the King River for a short section before the trail flips back inland up a relatively steep incline. Before you know it you’ll be back to the spot where the path initially split into the loop, from here you just retrace the steps you took to get here, following the single path back to the carpark.

How Much does it Cost to do The Confluence Trail?

There are no costs to do The Confluence trail in Queenstown. Parking is free and there are no entry or park fees as The Confluence is not within a national park or reserve.

Are there Toilets at The Confluence?

No, there are no toilets at The Confluence. The nearest public toilets are in the Queenstown town centre on the corner of Little Orr Street and Sticht Street.

Is The Confluence Trail Dog friendly?

The Confluence trail is not within a national park so dogs (and other pets) are allowed to join you on the trail. Make sure to be mindful of others however, keep your dog on a leash and make sure to clean up after them.

Is there Phone Reception at The Confluence?

No, there is no phone reception at The Confluence. We had Telstra signal along majority of the drive from the town centre to The Confluence but had no signal from the Tasmania Special Timbers building onwards (about 3km away from the trailhead) and at The Confluence.

Do you Need a Map for The Confluence Trail?

No, you don’t need a map for The Confluence trail as it is easy to navigate. The starting point is easy to find from the gravel pull off and the trail is quite well defined making it obvious where to go. Not once on the trail were we unsure or confused on where to go.

There are a few bright-coloured ribbons on trees throughout the trail to reassure that you’re still on the right path. At the section of the trail where the trail splits into two (as it loops) there is a map on a tree to show where you are.

the confluence queenstown trail map

What Should you Pack when Hiking to The Confluence?

Despite being a relatively short trail, we recommend packing essentials, just in case, when hiking to The Confluence. This includes the following:

  • Water – make sure to stay hydrated, take at least 1L per person.
  • Snacks – pack snacks just in case you need to ‘refuel’ during the trail.
  • A first aid kit – we always recommend packing a small first aid kit with some basic supplies no matter the length of the hike.
  • Sunscreen – though majority of trail is in the shade of the surrounding trees, we recommend wearing and packing sunscreen for additional protection.
  • (Bonus) Camera – pack your camera (or phone) so you can take pictures of The Confluence.

What Should you Wear When Hiking to The Confluence?

Firstly we recommend wearing clothes that you are comfortable hiking in, with flexible and breathable fabric. The trail is mostly through open forest so you will not be going through thick bush that will scratch your legs or arms.

Most importantly, make sure to wear grippy and comfortable footwear that you can hike in. The ground along the trail is soft, muddy and uneven. While we personally found it quite easy to walk on after a few days of sun and no rain, the trail would be extremely slippy and muddy after rain.

As mentioned previously, even though the majority of the trail is shaded by the surrounded trees, make sure to stay sun smart. Wear a hat, cover up and put sunscreen on.

Enjoy Visiting The Confluence!

That’s the end of our guide on everything you need to know about visiting the confluence. We hope you enjoy the hike and have a fantastic time in Queenstown, Tasmania.

Watch Us Hike to The Confluence in our Video on Queenstown

If you’re interested you can watch us hike to The Confluence in our Youtube video on Queenstown.

Lydia
Lydia

Hey! I’m Lydia and I have been travelling full time with Wehan since 2022. Alongside documenting our travels on YouTube, we put together comprehensive travel guides on the locations we visit here on our website. We also put together guides on other aspects of our travels, such as detailed information on the gear we use, specifics on our van build and tips for van life. Our goal with this website and the guides we write is to help others travel.

At the moment we are currently doing the big lap of Australia in our self converted Sprinter van. Our goal is to continue to push ourselves outside our comfort zone; seeking new adventures, learning about new cultures and seeing as much of the world as possible.

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