Glenorchy is a small town around 45 minutes’ drive from Queenstown. It’s not on the way to anywhere in particular, but the scenic drive along the shores of Lake Wakatipu makes it a must-do when spending a few days in Queenstown. There are also some excellent short walks in and around Glenorchy, and the Routeburn Track starts nearby. What are the best things to do in Glenorchy? Keep reading to find out!
The scenic drive to Glenorchy
The drive from Queenstown Glenorchy is one of the most scenic in the country. Do it on a still, sunny day and you’ll be treated to beautiful views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains. There are plenty of places to pull over, and if you want to do a short walk you’re well served with tracks like Moke Lake, Mount Crichton Loop Track and the short walk to the viewpoint above Bob’s Cove.
The Glenorchy Walkway is a short, flat hiking trail that takes you around Glenorchy Lagoon. The lagoon is surrounded by mountains and you’ll get some stunning views there on a nice day. It’s especially nice in winter, as you can see from the photos below!
Paradise is a short drive away from Glenorchy and it’s worth a look. There’s the iconic “Paradise” road sign as well as an historic homestead and a short walk with impressive views (this is Lord of the Rings country after all). The road to Paradise is mostly gravel but it’s in pretty good shape.
The Boat Shed
If you’ve seen a photo of Glenorchy it was likely taken at the red boat shed. It’s a picturesque little building and the surrounds are nice too. It’s popular though, so you may have to wait a while to get an unobstructed photo!
Strolling Around Town
One of the best things to do in Glenorchy is to just stroll around town and take in the relaxed vibe. It’s very different to Queenstown, and if you’re wary of crowds, traffic and noise you might want to consider staying in Glenorchy instead. There are some cool cafes around and the waterfront area is nice too. There’s also a golf course right in town – I’m guessing it’s a lot cheaper to play there than the courses in Queenstown.
Kinloch is about as small as Paradise and is reached via a short, scenic drive. There isn’t a lot to see there, but there’s Kinloch Lodge which looks like an interesting place to stay. Kinloch is the gateway to the Greenstone and Caples Track, but I reckon it’s still worth the drive even if you aren’t planning to do a walk or stay there.
Do a Day Hike
There are plenty of day walk options close to Glenorchy. We chose the Sugarloaf Pass Track and it was a fun few hours. It starts near the beginning of the Routeburn Track and takes you up to some awesome views above Lake Wakatipu and the nearby mountains.
You can also do the first part of the Routeburn Track as a day walk. From the start of the track to Routeburn Falls should take around three hours, and it’s an easy downhill walk on the way back. It’s a good option for people wanting a taste of a New Zealand Great Walk without all the planning / carrying heavy bags.
READ MORE: The Best Queenstown Hikes
The Routeburn Track
If you are keen to do a multiday hike in New Zealand then you can’t go past the Routeburn Track. It’s one of the easiest Great Walks and the variety of views on offer is impressive. The Routeburn Track takes in sections of both Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park and takes most people three days to complete. We did in March 2021 and it was such a great experience!
Other Things to Do in Glenorchy
Glenorchy seems like a good place to do a scenic flight. You can book flights over Milford Sound and various other areas of the Southern Alps – we’ve never done one but I imagine it’s a special experience (expensive though!). You can also do some jetboating, play a round of golf or just relax by the lakefront.
Are you planning a trip to Queenstown? Check out our list of the best things to do in Queenstown, including hikes, scenic drives, ski fields, viewpoints and much more!