What to Do in Twizel: New Zealand’s High Country Paradise
The peace and tranquillity matched with sublime tussock, lake and mountain surroundings make Twizel a town that is oh-so-hard to leave. It’s the closest town to Aoraki Mt Cook and is set on the edge of the Ruataniwha Conservation Park packed with milky blue lakes, rivers and canals. The scenery was featured in The Lord of the Rings movies, which can be enjoyed through walkways, hovercraft tours, at a cheese factory or even on a specialised Lord of the Rings tour. Find out more with this list of things to do in Twizel.
1. Walk the Twizel Walkway
This easy 3-hour loop walk can be started from just about anywhere in Twizel. Take in expansive views of grasslands with an alpine backdrop, walk through thick pine forest and along the waterways surrounding Twizel on the easy-going Twizel Walkway.
Location: Can start from anywhere, but the car park on Glen Lyon Road is as good of a place to start as any.
2. Or Walk the Kettlehole Track
Get fantastic views of the vibrant Lake Pukaki on the Kettlehole Track! The Kettlehole Track is a one-hour walk that will take you through native New Zealand forest to a unique “kettlehole” (shallow body of water created by retreating glaciers and now filled with sediment) with great views over the stunningly blue lake.
Location: Starts at the Pukaki River spillway, Twizel
3. Do the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail
Sitting part-way on the 4-6 days Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, Twizel is a great base for day rides on this scenic bike trail. There are bike shuttle and hire companies in town that can transport you to Braemar Road to do the 42km (26 miles) section along Lake Pukaki back to Twizel, or pick you up from Lake Ohau Lodge after riding the 38km (24 miles) section from Twizel and along Lake Ohau.
Location: Mackenzie Drive, Nuns Veil Road or Glen Lyon Road
4. Join a Lord of the Rings Tour
Get your geek on, because Twizel is actually a filming location for The Lord of the Rings! Join One Ring Tours for a trip to Ben Ohau Station which was the backdrop for Pelennor Fields in The Return of the King. Get some behind-the-scenes insights from your guide and some awesome photos with props and costumes included – sure to make your Facebook friends jealous! Find out more about One Ring Tours on Viator or Tripadvisor.
Location: Pick-up from Twizel information centre
5. Visit a Lavender Farm
A splash of colour among the tussock landscape, New Zealand Alpine Lavender is a lavender farm open to visitors. From December 1 to March 31, you can wander through their lavender fields to take photos and buy organic lavender oils, soaps, lotions, chocolates, lip balms and plush toys at their store.
Location: 657 Mt Cook Road
6. Visit Omarama
Just a 20-minute drive south is another quaint high country town well worth visiting! Omarama has its own set of attractions, from the dramatic Clay Cliffs to hot tubs among the stunning alpine views. Get inspired with our 5 Fun Things to Do in Omarama.
Location: State Highway 8, 30km (19 miles) south of Twizel
[CLOSED] Try Some Artisan Cheese
Sample a variety of artisan cheeses and preserves among spectacular high country scenery at The Cheese Room/Ben Ohau Road Cheese. Among picturesque gardens, you’ll get to see where the cheese is made in a shipping container cheese factory.
Location: Ben Ohau Road
[CLOSED] Hit Lake Pukaki in a Hovercraft
Get on one of the South Island’s most picturesque lakes in a unique mode of transport: by hovercraft. Enjoy 40 minutes gliding across the blue waters of Lake Pukaki with H2 Hovercraft. You’ll pass by a Hobbit filming location, the isolated Morgan’s Island and with ever-present sights of Aoraki Mt Cook.
Location: Pick-ups from Twizel accommodation