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Be sure to go out to Glenorchy. What a spectacular drive! One of the most enjoyable drives touring the country. The 45 minute drive along the side of Lake Wakatipu to see some truly wonderful scenery. There are several short walks on route. Including the popular Mount Crieghton loop walk, to the "Sam Summers" stone hut.
Along the road are several places to stay for campers. The DOC camp at Moke Lake is recommended as is the 12 mile Delta camping area. The turnoffs are a short drive from Queenstown on the Glenorchy road. Several kilometres from the main road on a picturesque isolated lake, perfect for swimming, fishing and kayaking. Usually plenty of room to park overnight.
Take your time, to enjoy the scenery, half way to Glenorchy you will come to a viewing place called ‘Bennett's Bluff’. Here a major part of the view is Mount Earnslaw is to the right of the Glenorchy Township.
Most of the visitors to Glenorchy come for the National Park for its walks and rivers. These being the Routeburn, the Greenstone, the Dart, the Caples and the Rees rivers and valleys. If you want to see the forest you can walk through it, on the Routeburn track. If you want a very scenic yet flat walk , the Rees valley is perfect.
Glenorchy is a small village at the top of the main lake, Lake Wakatipu. Initially a wharf for servicing the High Country Stations. A new addition this year to Glenorchy is a live demonstration about the workings and history of a high country farm. In NZ large farms are called 'Stations'. Experience some high country hospitality at the Rees Station Shearing Shed. Call in to the Glenorchy info centre for directions.
Mt Earnslaw High Country with RD TOURS is a unique High Country experience with exclusive access to Mount Alfred, also see LOTR's sights in the Paradise Valley. You will get an off road experince going beyond the locked gate.
For a good day trip, you can drive yourself up to the top of the lake and take the Dart Safari Jetboat ride. On the boat you will see that the scenery gets better and better as you go up into the National Park. This trip includes a 20 minute walk as well as a 4X4 ride through an area where the 'Lord of the Rings' was filmed. The area is called 'Paradise' originally after the Paradise ducks, but also for it's scenery. There is a option where you don’t have to walk if you don’t want to.
A popular option with the jetboats is to come back down the river on inflatable canoes, locally they are known as FunYaks. This makes a full day trip, and is lots of fun.
If you are a walker and a bird watcher you might like to include the boat ride with a guided walk through the beech forest to Lake Sylvan. This is a full days trip also.
Both of these options would include lunch, you just need the appropriate foot wear, sun screen and insect repellent.
It is in this area that you can see many of the scenes from Lord of The Rings, but it is good to take a guided tour to have them shown to you proprerly. Pure Glenorchy Scenic L.O.T.R Tours Have a look at their website and Nomad Safaris run a half day tour to Glenorchy and beyond with full commentary and LOTR locations. Have a look at their website
The Dart Stables and High Country Horses offer rides at Glenorchy. These are different to other trails, in that you get the chance to ride through the Beech forest and see some of the amazing scenery shown in the Lord of the rings.
For the adventure seekers you can do Skydiving with NZSKYDIVE, you will find them at the Glenorchy airport on days when the weather allows them to operate. Canyoning can be done in the Routeburn river. This is 30 minutes north into the National park.
Glenorchy is only 18 minutes by air from Milford Sound it is five and a half hours away by road. Just before you get to the the town of Glenorchy you pass the airfield on your left hand side. From there you can take a scenic flight to ,Milford Sound, with ,Glenorchy Air,. Have a look at their web siteGlenorchy Air is the only Queenstown or Glenorchy operator who's route to Milford is via the Glaciers of the Barrier Range and Olivine Ice Plateau. You also get stunning views of Mount Aspiring and Mount Earnslaw.
As you can see that a full day at Glenorchy can be varied to meet everyone’s needs. A good walk is the board walk around the back of the golf course and through the wet lands. Take a fishing rod you might get the odd fish. The fishing in the area is well worth it.
For those people that would like a guided tour of the area there are several 4X4 cross country tours. All can point out the Lord of the Rings sites, one goes up the Rees Valley. This is a very pretty valley. Another takes you over the Mount Earnslaw Station.
To top off a good day, you can not beat the view from the Glenorchy Hotel restaurant. Have a meal and watch the sun going down behind the snow capped mountains and leave the push and shove of Queenstown behind for a couple of hours. Other places to eat are the Kinloch Lodge on the other side of the lake, The Café and Lodge in the township.
Glenorchy is that good that it is host to one of New Zealand’s most exclusive Luxury Lodges. Called ‘Blanket Bay’.