Head of the Lake, Heart of the Mountains
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This rustic town is a true outdoor enthusiasts’ paradise. Set against a background of native beech forest and towering mountain ranges, Glenorchy’s surrounds are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Lake Wakatipu and the Dart River offer opportunities for jet boating and kayaking, and some of New Zealand’s best hiking trails can be accessed from here. Horse trekking in the area is also highly recommended.
Glenorchy’s spectacular landscapes have become a prime location for film scouts, depicting many scenes from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit as well as featuring in the Narnia movies.
Home to about 500 people, Glenorchy is a welcoming and vibrant place famous for its southern kiwi hospitality. There’s an assortment of accommodation, cafes, restaurants and bars. It’s a good idea to buy hiking supplies in nearby Queenstown.
The lakeside drive to Glenorchy from Queenstown is recognised as one of the ten most scenic drives in the world. A continual changing vista opens up as the road winds itself along the lake side, through native beech forest, scrub and farming outposts. Make a point of slowing down at Bennetts bluff, this is one of the most photographed spots in New Zealand so even if you don't take your own pictures watch for others who are. View our map
A few of the most scenic walking tracks in the world are right on Glenorchy’s doorstep. One of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the Routeburn Track, is nearby and features soaring mountain peaks and jewel-like lakes as part of a 3-4 day hike. There’s also the 4-5 day Rees and Dart Track and the Greenstone/Caples Track. Accommodation is in the form of basic huts, which need to be booked in advance. The Department of Conservation Visitor Centre can help with information, booking and transport. The area also offers a large choice of day walks with everything from 20-minute strolls to full day hikes available.
Hollywood has fallen in love with the landscapes surrounding Glenorchy. Locations for Isengard, Lothlorien and Amon Hen for The Lord of the Rings trilogy were all filmed nearby, and are easily accessed on foot and by jet boat. Parts of the area also had a starring role in Wolverine, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe as well as Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia and countless adverts.