Queenstown Road Trip: Glenorchy
Grab your camera, it’s time to take a road trip to Glenorchy. Some locations are as much about the journey as they are about the destination. And that couldn’t be truer for the journey to the small lakeside settlement of Glenorchy. Located 45 minutes west of Queenstown, Glenorchy sits quietly on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, a stone’s throw from the mouth of the Dart River.
A quaint, sleepy settlement, Glenorchy is light years apart from the bustle of Queenstown’s cafes, bars and boutique shops. Glenorchy is drenched in jaw-dropping mountain vistas and is pretty much the end of the road before hitting Mt Aspiring National Park.
The drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy should be at the top of your list of scenic activities to do in while staying in Queenstown. Often featured amongst the world’s most scenic drives, this is a journey that won’t disappoint (unless you forget your camera).
The journey from Queenstown to Glenorchy takes about 45 minutes by car. But our recommendation is to forget about schedules and give yourself plenty of time for photo stops along the way.
The remarkable scenery of Bob’s Cove makes it a perfect first photo stop on your drive to Glenorchy. A picture-perfect inlet of still water, Bob’s Cove is surrounded by dense beech forest. You can take a gentle stroll along the lakefront that includes the historic ruins of a lime kiln wile breathing in some invigorating lakeside air.
If you spot a load of cars pulled over on the roadside, look to the west, and you will see why. Easily one of the most photographed views in New Zealand, the scenery overlooking Lake Wakatipu from Bennett’s Bluff encapsulates all that is raw, stunning and utterly beautiful about the Southern Alps. Take some time to soak it all in.
Our tip: The road to Glenorchy is single lane all the way. If you’re taking your time to soak in the scenery as you drive, keep an eye out for any vehicles behind you. Common courtesy is to pull over and let traffic behind you keep moving.
Once you arrive in Glenorchy, you’ll see why it is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Everywhere you look there is mountains, water, and pristine scenery to be explored. Before you head into the wild, take some time to explore downtown Glenorchy. Don’t worry, it won’t take long, Glenorchy is a one-street town.
Running from the main road to the edge of the lake, Glenorchy’s main street offers a smattering of shops and dining options to set you up before you head out on anadventure. Enjoy a meal at the pub, great coffee at the GY Café or check out the newly opened Glenorchy Marketplace.
After refreshments, take a walk out on the iconic Glenorchy jetty or stretch the legs on the wetlands walk behind the town.
Carry on past Glenorchy, through a few small fords and you’ll find Paradise (literally). Aptly named, Paradise offers the kind of scenery that dreams are made of. It’s no surprise the filmmakers love it here. Paradise is the backdrop to films like Lord of The Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Wolverine and many more.
For a small town, you’ll be impressed by how much is on offer in Glenorchy.On the very long list of amazing activities to do in Glenorchy, you’ll find jet boating, 4WD tours, fishing, horse riding, scenic flights and loads of walking tracks.
Glenorchy is the stepping off point for some of New Zealand’s best multi-day tramps and day hikes. From here, you can begin The Routeburn Track, the Greenstone-Caples track or the Rees-Dart track. Some of these walks are challenging and include alpine passes and difficult terrain so do your research before you head off.
For gentler options, enjoy the Glenorchy Walkway through the wetlands area behind the town and home to a great array of local birdlife. Or, check out Whakaari Conservation Area and Mt Judah, where you can see remains of the area’s scheelite mines.
Glenorchy may be a small and unassuming place, but it packs a huge punch when it comes to natural scenery and outdoor experiences. Any Queenstown itinerary should include a day out to Glenorchy. How can you resist a place where the journey is just as magnificent as the destination?