Visit Glenorchy & Queenstown – the Most Famous Movie Set Destination
A part of New Zealand beauty lies a spectacular 45-minute drive northwest of Queenstown, at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu. Set against a background of towering mountain ranges, Glenorchy with its picturesque blue lake and Queenstown are truly awe-inspiring and places you must visit. Those amazing landscapes have become a prime location for blockbuster’s movies including The Lord of the Rings trilogy or Narnia. Driving the curvy road sat the edge of a stunning lake is a memorable experience. One that should not be missed while traveling around the South Island.
Queenstown is the most famous resort towns of New Zealand. It’s fabulously located and perched on the northeast shore of Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by mountain range. It attracts visitors year round. What once used to be a sleepy town established during the gold rushes, is now a lively tourist destination.
Queenstown is also known as an adventurous sports paradise. If you ever wanted to try bungee jumping or skydiving, there is no better place but here.
↬ Note : As lovely as Queenstown is, if you come to NZ in search of wilderness and isolation, you won’t enjoy it that much. It is a typical, rather expensive, touristic town and there are no free or low cost campsites close by.
Enjoy the View Points
The biggest attraction in Queenstown is the skyline gondola taking visitors up to Bob’s Peak to enjoy the breathtaking views. As this excursion is somewhat pricey, we suggest you drive up to Lake Wakatipu view point and Lovers Lookout instead. The views from both sites are fantastic and you’ll save some cash left for the rest of your trip.
Hike to Queenstown Summit
If you have time head to Queenstown Hill Walking Track and hike all the way up Queenstown Hill Summit. It takes apx 2h and the hike is pleasant.
↬ Note : Remember to prepare yourself for any weather. We couldn’t complete our hike as it started pouring rain just 10 min after we left. We decided to turn around and never made it all the way up.
Stroll around the Town and Lake
You can take a cruise on the Lake Wakatipu or simply enjoy a walk along the lake and an ice cream from the famous Patagonia’s Ice Creamery & Chocolaterie.
↬ Note : We didn’t explore much of Queenstown as we visited it on the 24th of December. The town was extremely busy- the opposite what we hoped to find in New Zealand. We quickly walked around and headed towards Milford Sound instead.
The reason why this area is so famous isn’t the small yet lovely town. It’s the awe-inspiring surroundings that attract visitors (and film crews). Additionally, on your way from Queenstown to visit Glenorchy, the road passing along Lake Wakatipu is one of the most beautiful roads in the world.
When visiting Glenorchy you have to do this stunning but easy 40 min hike next to an emerald green lake. The small path leads through a forest at first, then opens up to a small beach. If you continue walking, you will arrive at the bottom of a hill with amazing views of a double bay and mountains around.
↬ TIP : Pack a swimwear for the hike. In summer the water is still cold, but might be a nice refreshment after a few days of not showering in your campervan.
Glenorchy Boat House
This is one of the very instagrammable spots in New Zealand. We have to be honest- there is nothing is the area except of this little red house. Nevertheless the road is lovely and even if you won’t hang out here for long, it’s worth a visit.
↬ Note : The road connecting Queenstown and Glenorchy was constructed only 20 years ago. Prior to that, people traveled to the nearest urban center (Queenstown) by boat through the lakeside dock near the boat house. This red boat house today serves as a museum containing photos from that period of time.
Twelve Mile Delta
Ithilien Lookout is a real thrill for fans of ‘Lord of the Rings’. This beautiful spot was a set for the memorable scene of the battle between the Rangers of Gondor and the men of Harad.
We stopped at this campsite for lunch. We found a completely empty spot and set our picnic table right by the lake. Lunch views just cannot get better than this.
Glenorchy is located at the north end of Lake Wakatipu, 45 km from Queenstown. The best way to get there is with your campervan or a car following our New Zealand itinerary.
Take your time driving, as the road is simply stunning.
Best time to visit
Without a doubt, spring and summer are the best times to visit New Zealand in general.
We suggest you to visit Glenorchy and Bob’s Cove in the morning to avoid the crowds. You can do so by staying in one of the campgrounds nearby.
In Queenstown you will find only packed and overpriced Holiday Parks. That’s why we highly suggest you to stay for the night at a free camp along the road to Glenorchy, right by the lake. It’s a beautiful spot that you will love during your visit of Queenstown & Glenorchy.
You can choose between low cost DOC run Twelve Mile Delta campsite, or the smaller Twenty Five Mile Stream campground- that is free. We stayed at the latter. Parked the van with the back facing the water and had splendid views of sunset and sunrise for breakfast following morning.