Tours, Hikes and Activities in Glenorchy
A photographer’s dream, a hiker’s paradise and a Lord of the Rings fan’s mecca, Glenorchy is a worthwhile road trip from Queenstown. The small settlement on the shores of Lake Wakatipu is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, ancient beech forests and the braided glacier-fed Dart and Rees rivers. While many recommend to simply “go there”, it’s not always obvious what there is to do in Glenorchy once you arrive. We’ll help you plan an exceptional day (or many days) out with this list of the best things to do in Glenorchy.
1. Enjoy a Scenic Trip Down the Glenorchy-Queenstown Road
Let’s kick this list of things to do in Glenorchy off with the journey itself. Spanning around 45km (28 miles) along Lake Wakatipu between Queenstown and Glenorchy, the Glenorchy-Queenstown Road is one of the most stunning drives in New Zealand. There are many reasons to stop for photos along the way, using the roadside parking areas, as well as places to walk such as the Twelve Mile Delta to Bob’s Cove Track, Lake Face Creek Falls and the Mt Judah trails.
Location: Glenorchy-Queenstown Road.
2. Get an Obligatory Photo of the Glenorchy Boat Shed
The cute red shed with the backdrop of Lake Wakatipu and Mt Bonpland is a worthy photo if ever there was one. Need we say more?
Location: Glenorchy Waterfront Reserve Road.
3. Visit Isengard
See the filming location of Isengard from The Lord of the Rings movies in an area just above Glenorchy, known as Paradise. Yes, Paradise. Really! Either travel there independently or get a guided experience with behind-the-scenes stories and visits to other Rings locations with Nomad Safaris (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor).
Location: Glenorchy-Paradise Road at the GPS coordinates: 4440’25.0″S 16820’27.4″E. Note that this is a gravel road.
4. Blast Down Braided Rivers on a Dart River Jet Boat Tour
Jet boats were invented in New Zealand to get to the South Island’s remotest places on the shallowest rivers. That’s exactly what you’ll experience with Dart River Wilderness Adventures. More than just a thrill ride, this jet boat tour is a journey into a UNESCO World Heritage Area of the Mt Aspiring National Park. In the national park, you’ll stop for a walk among the ancient forest and learn about the early Maori inhabitants of the area. Get more details on tours with Dart River Wilderness Jet on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Tours depart from Queenstown and Glenorchy.
5. Tackle the Routeburn Track
Experience one of the acclaimed Great Walks of New Zealand by hiking the Routeburn Track. Although the complete journey takes two to four days, day walks can be enjoyed by walking the one-hour Routeburn Nature Walk or to the Routeburn Flats Hut and back taking approximately three to five hours return.
Location: Start from the Routeburn Shelter, Routeburn Road, approximately 25km (15.5 miles) from Glenorchy.
6. Explore the Landscape on Horseback
Bask in the glorious lake, braided river and mountain views on a horse riding tour in Glenorchy. Ride through ancient beech forest and across braided rivers with High Country Horses or experience natural horsemanship in sublime scenery with Lighthouse Adventures. See more places to experience horse riding in the 11 Best Horse Treks in New Zealand.
Location: High Country Horses – 243 Priory Road, Glenorchy. Lighthouse Adventures – 2 Swamp Road, Glenorchy.
7. Walk the Glenorchy Lagoon Walkway
Accessible from the village itself, the Glenorchy Lagoon Walkway is a fantastic walk for all fitness levels. Cross wetlands over boardwalks and lookout for birdlife on this one to two-hour loop which features a lagoon on the shorter loop and a scenic lookout on the longer loop.
Location: Signposted from Mull Street, Glenorchy.
8. Feed the Animals at Glenorchy Animal Experience
Animal lovers and families alike should consider a cheeky visit to Glenorchy Animal Experience. Hand-feed lambs, ducks, llamas and the friendly Clydesdale horse, watch a sheep shearing demonstration and get plenty of photo opportunities at this farm park. See more activities like this in the 10 Things to Do in Queenstown with Kids.
Location: Glenorchy-Paradise Road, Glenorchy, approximately 2.5km (1.6 miles) north of Glenorchy.
9. Hike the Lake Sylvan Track
Another one of the best things to do in Glenorchy is the easy-going Lake Sylvan Track. The 1h40mins loop walk is accessible for most fitness levels, taking you through towering forest and over an old river terrace to the shores of a picturesque lake. There are also opportunities to spot robins, fantail and riflemen along the way.
Location: Lake Sylvan car park, signposted off Routeburn Road, approximately 23km (14 miles) from Glenorchy.
10. Take a Scenic Flight Over Glenorchy and Beyond
Leave the hiking boots at home because scenic flights with Heli Glenorchy will get you to some of the most remote alpine regions of the Mt Aspiring National Park from Glenorchy. There are options for a snow landing in the mountains, for a heli-hike to a nearby glacier, to Milford Sound and beyond.
Location: 35 Mull Street, Glenorchy.