Glenorchy is a small town surrounded by stunning scenery, which is an hour from Queenstown, New Zealand. Did you know there is a part called Paradise? And many Lord of the Rings scenes were filmed in the area? And there’s a beautiful walk straight from town?
This video gives you a taste for the scenery and hiking tracks in the area, plus commentary of my experience…
Glenorchy is the base to explore the area. The road eventually forks and becomes a gravel road. If you carry on after Paradise, the road becomes more rugged with rivers fording the road. There are really too many hikes in the area to write about, so below are just a few options.
There is a walk right from town! And straight away you feel like you are far from the town. Mountains all around, pretty flowering Lupins (if they are in season). There are different paths depending on the amount of time you want to take. I went for an evening walk and kept saying to myself ‘just one more corner’.
This becomes Mount Aspiring National Park – parts of this park can also be accessed from Wanaka and driving to Haast. Paradise is pretty with dramatic mountains in the background, lupins (flowers) and forests. Beyond Paradise, the road feels more like you’re on someones private land. When I reached my first river across the road, I wondered if this was it, but I decided my car should be fine since it’s a 4×4. Note to self; I really need to learn how to make use of the car. I was super curious about what was around the corner and found a few houses and a tour bus! The further along you go, the more wild and uninhabited it becomes. Too many times, I pulled over for photos, as the scenery kept changing. This is one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand I’ve come across – it just… wow. You need a decent car to reach the end – altho a motorhome was there. Very brave of them. Then it becomes a hiking track through forest following the river and out onto an open plan with views of the surrounding mountains. It started raining and I turned around, but one day I’ll be back to see what was around the corner.
While walking on the Dart Track, after the road finishes, I saw a couple of jet boats race past. I later learn they go much further than I could and the passengers get to go for a walk too. This would be an amazing way to see the area, especially if you don’t have a car that can handle the road. Find out more here.
An easy 20 minute walk through a peaceful forest brings you to the Lake. It’s basically a flat walk, and the first part is on a well maintained trail. The longer route back was a little muddy in patches, but carries on by the lake for a while. There is another hike brunching off as-well called the Sugarloaf Saddle track. After about 9 hours, it takes you to the start of the Routeburn track – just a little far for me!
This is the other end of the Routeburn Track that starts in the Milford Sounds area and takes 2-4 days. The track was closed during my visit due to past bad weather. Best to contact Doc about booking huts well in advance in peak season and check weather forecast before-hand. Organise drop-off and pick-up transport as the track starts out of the way and it’s a 4 hours drive to get from start to finish. There is a day walk option that’s about 3-6 hours return.
Have you been to Glenorchy? How would you describe it?