Visit Glenorchy at the head of the lake.
Glenorchy sits at the northern tip of Lake Wakatipu, overlooked by the awe-inspiring Mt Earnslaw and Earnslaw Glacier. It's also home to the Rees and Dart valleys (whose rivers are two main sources of Lake Wakatipu) and the starting point for the famous Routeburn Track.
With less than 500 locals as guardians of this magnificent haven this really is a slice of paradise!
Bordered by a World Heritage Area, the frontier village of Glenorchy sits at the northern tip of Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by mountains, glacier-fed rivers and beech forest. It’s the gateway to Paradise and Mount Aspiring National Park and the starting point for multi-day treks, including the famous Routeburn Walk.
Getting to Glenorchy: The stunning 45km lakeside drive offers breathtaking views of Lake Wakatipu, hanging valleys and sheer mountains. Make sure you stop at the Bennetts Bluff Lookout (on the left, 25kms from Queenstown) for an amazing view of the head of the lake and an excellent photo opportunity.
Glenorchy is a safe, friendly and typically kiwi village that's ideal for a family visit or holiday. There's a wide choice of accommodation and several eating places, along with lots to explore!
The township has an adventure playground and skateboard park, plus a swimming pool. But on a sunny day, swimming in the lake, with the wharf and a swimming pontoon nearby, are so much fun! There's picnic and BBQ spots at the lakeside and if you fancy taking a kid fishing, salmon and trout to be had! Otherwise the township and surrounds, with their quiet roads, are great to explore.
Amazing Glenorchy activities include getting onto the lake on a truly stunning kayak adventure with Rippled Earth Kayak Safaris (guided and no experience necessary). Or take charge of your own electric 4WD vehicle and let the onboard computer guide you along the Dart River delta (Delta Discovery).
Animals play a big part of life in Glenorchy, and you can get up close at Glenorchy Animal Experience, home to a variety of friendly animals and daily sheep shearing. Finally a visit to Glenorchy wouldn't be complete without dropping in at Mrs Woolly's General Store for a browse or to tuck into one of their famous gelato sundaes!
Lagoon Loop Easy – 1 hour
Facing the lake and Glenorchy Jetty, follow the path to your right – it leads to a boardwalk skirting the lagoon. Stunning views and lots of birdlife, including black swans.
Lake Sylvan Easy – 45 min return
Driving from Glenorchy, follow the Routeburn road and turn right towards the Routeburn Track. The Lake Sylvan turn off is well-marked and the pleasant bush walk starts with a swing bridge and finishes at a hidden lake.
Glenorchy Battery Moderate – 45 min each way
Short, steep climb to great views and relics of the goldmining era. Track starts from Whakaari Conservation Area carpark, 2km before you get to Glenorchy.
Routeburn Track beginning Moderate
This track takes 2–3 days to complete but why not walk along it for a while and explore? Starts at the end of the Routeburn Road. The first track hut is at Routeburn Flats and takes about 2 hrs each way (8km). The most stunning mountain top views are from the Routeburn Falls hut, about 3 hrs each way (11km) with the final hour or so being a steady climb. Well worth it if you have the energy.