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The 45 minute journey from Queenstown to Glenorchy is one of the most scenic drives you'll ever experience. The road follows the edge of Lake Wakatipu, providing spectacular views of the surrounding mountains which rise abruptly from the lake's shores.
When you arrive in Glenorchy, you'll quickly realise that this settlement has little in common with Queenstown. It's small and folksy with not a designer shop in sight. Sitting at the edge of the Dart River delta, the town is dwarfed by the most extraordinary alpine scenery.
In pre-European days, Glenorchy was a 'summer camp' for Maori on their way to the pounamu (jade) rivers of the west coast. Then, in the 1860s, European settlers arrived to graze sheep, mill timber and mine scheelite. Today the town is a launching point for walks in Mount Aspiring National Park, jet boat adventures, skydiving, four wheel drive tours and horse treks.
Just up the road from Glenorchy is Paradise. Some say this place was named for its stunning scenery; others argue that it's all to do with the paradise ducks that live in the area. Either way, Paradise deserves your attention - especially if you're a Lord of the Rings fan. The filming locations for Lothlorien, Amon Hen, Orthanc and Isengard are all in this region.