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Glenorchy is a big draw-card for visitors from around the world. Some seek to stand in the same locations as they’ve seen in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies; while others have heard of its beauty from fellow travellers, so they make the drive up from Queenstown to check it out.
Here’s a few ideas on how to enjoy Glenorchy like a local:
Kiwis love camping! The Department of Conservation in New Zealand (DOC) works hard to provide wonderful sites for natural camping experiences. We recommend one of the following sites in the Glenorchy area:
• Kinloch: a grassy strip beside the lake that fits about 15 tents. There is no booking system, so you just turn up and pay a small fee to DOC. There is no power so bring a torch, but there is a nearby toilet and you are able to use the showers at Kinloch Lodge next door (you can hire a towel from them too). Kinloch has a café/restaurant on site so you can turn your camping into ‘glamping’ and treat yourself to a gorgeous meal without having to do the dishes. If you feel like getting out on the lake, this is a great spot for kayaking and there are kayaks and canoes available for hire.
• Lake Sylvan: a lot of people drive to Sylvan just to do the lake walk, which loops around to a lookout point. There is also a nice flat campsite which makes it possible for you to spend a few days fishing, (make sure you get a fishing license from the Glenorchy Information Centre) relaxing, or bush walking. You are also conveniently placed to do some more intensive day tramps.
• Paradise: for a really unique stay deep in wild New Zealand, you can try out one of the huts or rustic cabins in Paradise. Paradise forest is an ancient protected place where you can truly enjoy peace, it is also the site chosen as “Lothlorien Forest” in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Glenorchy is the gateway to some of the most stunning walking tracks in New Zealand. The Routeburn track is one of the most famous, and you can either walk part of it as a day trip or take several days to walk right through to Milford Sound carrying your food and gear in with you. There are custom-built huts along the way for you to stay in and these are maintained by DOC who you must book and pay with before you go. The facilities are great, with bunkhouses, a kitchen, toilets and showers. The other gorgeous walking tracks you can access from Glenorchy include the Greenstone/Caples Track, Rees/Dart Track. These tramps require a good level of fitness, and experienced trampers particularly love them.
Mountain biking is hugely popular amongst locals, and the area is not short of excellent bike tracks. A really beautiful option is the bike ride between Glenorchy and Paradise. In this case you are following the road so you need to be aware of traffic, but you’ll find there’s not a lot of it. Along the way you’ll pass the Glenorchy lagoon which was used as the Dead Marshes in Lord of the Rings. As you head out of town you’ll have farmland on either side of you, and mountains looming above you. You’ll be passing by Mt Alfred and Diamond Lake before winding your way deep into the Beech forest towards Paradise, crossing a few small fords and bridges along the way. Take a picnic in your backpack and remember to bring sunscreen, insect repellent (the sandflies are cute but they bite) and wet weather gear in case the weather changes.
Pure Glenorchy Lord of the Rings tours operate daily from Queenstown New Zealand, taking people to film locations in Glenorchy and Paradise, and treating them to a picnic in Mt Aspiring National Park. Give us a call, we’d love to show you around.
Written: 10 articles
Travel New Zealand’s most scenic highway, heading deep into Middle Earth, and visit the landscape that inspired Peter Jackson’s film locations for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Local Kiwi guides complement this family operated business.