There are several scenic roads branching out from Queenstown, but for me the 45 km stretch of tarmac between Queenstown and Glenorchy stands out from the crowd. This picturesque road skirts the pristine shores of Lake Wakatipu and is surrounded by mountains — it’s stunning at any time of year but it really comes alive in winter.
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Driving from Queenstown to Glenorchy
It’s best to treat this drive as a sightseeing experience and take it slow. There are heaps of places to stop along the way, including roadside viewpoints and popular hiking trails. If you were in a hurry and didn’t stop it’d take around 45 minutes to drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy. The first part of the drive takes you past several beach areas, including Sunshine Bay and Wilson Bay.
One of the best places to stop between Queenstown and Glenorchy is Bob’s Cove. It’s a short hike a stunning beach, but if you have the time you should climb up to the nearby lookout for an incredible view.
Close to Bob’s Cove you’ll see the view over 12 Mile Delta — it’s a Lord of the Rings filming location and one of the best spots on the road to Glenorchy.
There are a few walks which start along the road between Queenstown and Glenorchy. Two of the most popular are the Moke Lake Track and the Mount Crichton Loop Track. Both are great options and only take a couple of hours, although I’d choose the Mount Crichton Loop Track if I had to pick one.
There are lots of places to pull over and admire the views on the road from Queenstown to Glenorchy. Most of these don’t have official names or anything, so keep an eye out and be prepared to stop when you see a good view / space to park There were a few times that I wished there was access down to the water’s edge. There are some nice little beaches and coves but most of them are impossible (or very difficult) to access.
This tiny town nestled amongst mountains makes for a great spot to eat lunch or grab a coffee. There’s not much going on in town but there are a few shops and cafes and a nice waterfront area.
Make sure to do the Glenorchy Walkway — a very easy one hour walk — it’s home to great views and is almost entirely flat (no fitness required!). You can also ride on a jet boat, organise a scenic flight, go fishing or continue your scenic drive to Paradise or Kinloch.
READ MORE: 8 of the Best Things to Do in Glenorchy
Why stop your scenic drive in Glenorchy when you can continue on to Paradise! This small town (well, maybe it was a town at one point, there’s pretty much nothing there now) has one of New Zealand’s most photographed signs and an excellent short walk where you’ll get awesome views of the surrounding mountains.
You can even get married in this area — definitely one of the most scenic wedding venues in New Zealand (and it’s not that expensive).
Another scenic side road from Glenorchy leads to Kinloch, a small town which acts as the gateway to the Greenstone and Caples tracks. The drive from Glenorchy to Kinloch is typically scenic and it makes for a good little add-on to the main Queenstown to Glenorchy journey.
The drive between Queenstown and Glenorchy (and onward to Paradise and Kinloch) is one of the highlights of a trip to this part of New Zealand. Don’t miss it if you want to see some awesome views from the comfort of your car. Looking for other scenic drives around Queenstown? Check out our post which includes the drives to Wānaka, Te Anau (and Milford Sound) and Central Otago.
Are you planning a trip to Queenstown? Check out our Queenstown travel guide for all the information you’ll need!
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