The 45-minute drive between Queenstown and Glenorchy, which is sandwiched between the vibrantly coloured Lake Wakatipu and spectacular mountains, is stupidly beautiful. I would even go as far as to say, it is one of the most beautiful drives in New Zealand, or even, the world! F and I were lucky enough to travel on this road to and from Queenstown on two occasions – thanks to our failed skydive attempts – and we are happy to report that the sights of this drive are stunning even in miserable and overcast weather.
Glenorchy itself is a tiny little town. It is a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle (if you can call it that) of Queenstown, which makes it a great alternative for those looking for accommodation in this beautiful region that is more low-key and remote. In town, there is a friendly information centre located within the local general store, a handful of quaint and welcoming cafes, an expensive petrol station, and a shop selling possum fur goods; but not much else. Rather, it is the lakes, the rivers, the mountains, and the valleys of Glenorchy’s surrounds that brings people here all year round. (There is also a place called “Paradise” that people come here for, but it’s really just a paddock surrounded by all the other prettier aforementioned stuff). For Lord of the Rings fans, Glenorchy is also home to Middle Earth.
We had originally planned to spend a full day tramping in Glenorchy’s surrounds, but things never go to plan (thank you, Mr. Weatherman and cancelled skydiving bookings!). There is an abundance of short walks near Glenorchy, and it is close enough for day trippers to check out snippets of the famous Routeburn Track (now made even more famous thanks to the Man vs. Wild Air New Zealand safety video) or the Rees/Dart Track. Unfortunately for us, the after effects of motion sickness from skydiving put an end to any desire to go bush in the afternoon. Instead, we spent a pleasant afternoon picnicking and soaking up the sunshine by Lake Wakatipu at the waterfront reserve. It was the perfect way to spend some enforced downtime after a big adrenaline rush!