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Your guide to Glenorchy
All About Glenorchy
Located 30 miles from Queenstown on the edge of Lake Wakatipu on the South Island of New Zealand, Glenorchy is a small settlement surrounded by snow-capped mountains, ancient beeches, and crystal-clear lakes that draw cinematographers and outdoor lovers alike. You can hike through forests and along creeks, river terraces, and lagoons, or paddle a kayak to nearby islands. In the winter, backcountry and downhill skiers and snowboarders come for the scenic slopes. The mountain scenery around Glenorchy has served as the backdrop for some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters.
The village itself is small and consists of just a few streets, many of which are lined with one-story buildings housing eateries, gift shops, and a general store that sells locally crafted mementos and healthy hiking snacks. At the northern edge of town, check out the Glenorchy Lagoon Scenic Walkway, a two-mile hike around the lagoon. You’ll walk through wetlands teeming with birdlife and catch views of Mount Earnslaw, the tallest peak within the jagged mountain range.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Glenorchy?
Thanks to the wide array of outdoor activities all year round, there is no bad time to secure your Glenorchy accommodation. The summer (December through March) is a great time to take an epic hike in the surrounding mountains, when you’ll find the warmest weather and longest days. Alternatively, get out on Lake Wakatipu for a boat tour, or kayak on one of the glacial-fed rivers.
In the fall season (March through June), the temperature begins to drop and the forest turns into a sea of red, yellow, and orange. During the winter (June through September), the temperature plummets, and the surrounding ski fields are usually open by July. Spring (September through December) brings warm weather, longer days, and beautiful flowers. Thanks to the melting snow, this is also a great time for whitewater rafting.
Regardless of when you visit, it’s always a smart idea to pack for rain in Glenorchy, as the area is known for its thunderstorms. Don’t forget sunscreen to protect yourself from New Zealand’s strong rays, and insect repellent to ward off the sand flies. The air can get dry in Glenorchy, so carrying a good moisturizer helps prevent chapping.
What are the top things to do in Glenorchy?
Snaking through a glacier-carved trench surrounded by snow-capped mountains, the cerulean Lake Wakatipu is New Zealand’s third-biggest lake and is fed by the Dart and Rees rivers. You can explore the lake on a historic steamship, by kayak, or by jet boat, or take a slightly chilly dip from one of the lake’s beaches.
This 20-mile hiking trail runs through the Routeburn Gorge, linking Fiordland and Mount Aspiring national parks and passing soaring mountains, rushing waterfalls, and pristine crystal-clear lakes. The start of the hike is located near Glenorchy, making the town a perfect base if you’re interested in doing a section of the trail.
This tiny settlement is just a 20-minute drive from Glenorchy. Along the way, you can stop and take photos at the tranquil Diamond Lake. While one of the biggest draws to Paradise is the town sign, there is also a great hiking trail here. Trek past the ruins of the Paradise Homestead before climbing a small hill for sweeping views of the surrounding mountains.