There are countless scenic roads in New Zealand, 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.
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 simple roadside viewpoints and popular hiking trails. If you were in a hurry and didn’t stop along the way it’d take around 45 minutes to drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy.
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.
I made lots of other stops while driving between Queenstown and Glenorchy. There are lots of places to pull over and admire the views. I even saw a waterfall – I can’t remember where exactly along the road it was but keep an eye out for it. This area is quite green compared with the barren landscapes usually found around Queenstown. 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.
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.
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