Glenorchy has a natural X-Factor for visitors to New Zealand. The drive to Glenorchy is noted as ‘One of the worlds best drives’ and is the start of one of the top 10 classic hikes – The Routeburn Track.
Tourism New Zealand has used Glenorchy as a source of some of its key images in past campaigns – children playing at Diamond Lake, Paradise , two people sitting at the summit of Mt Alfred (a half day walk 20 minutes from Glenorchy), mountain biking in the Richardson Range of mountains looking down over Glenorchy. These images will be familiar to regular New Zealand travelers, though they would not have been aware these were Glenorchy.
Glenorchy is one of the main locations used in the area for Queenstown films and advertisements. Most recently Wolverine X-Men and Lovely Bones were filmed nearby, although the most popular would be the Lord of the Rings trilogies which used the Dart River bed as the setting for Isengaard and Paradise for LothLorien. Many of the local operators have been involved with filming and you can still ride some of the horses used in the Hobbit movies with Dart Stables. Nomad Safaris offer tours specializing in the locations used for filming.
More than 19 different day walks explore the area, from the flat, gentle boardwalk on the Glenorchy Lagoon to the strenuous climb up Mt. Alfred, there is something for everyone. Several extended walks start here. As well the world famous Routeburn track, there is the Sugarloaf and 5 passes routes, Scotts Creek and the Greenstone and Caples tracks. The Rees/Dart track is a circular track that starts and finishes near Glenorchy and a walk via Cascade Saddle takes you through to Wanaka.
If walking is not your thing 4WD companies can help you experience the stunning scenery of the area in depth by taking you to some of the out of the way places that you only discover with inside knowledge and access to private land. Trips are available with a focus on the Rees Valley and Scheelite mining, farming with a hands on approach and general scenery tours.
For a breathtaking, once in a lifetime experience take a flight-seeing trip by helicopter or fixed wing aircraft to Milford Sound and Mount Cook from Glenorchy airport. There are no landing fees at Glenorchy Airstrip, meaning that when an aircraft is based in Glenorchy, charter flights and flight-seeing trips to Milford Sound can be more economical. Milford Sound is just 36 kilometres in a direct line from Glenorchy. The change in scenery over this area is phenomenal and if the weather is fine, it is one of the most spectacular excursions you will ever take.
The Dart River is a spectacular river for jet-boating. Travelling 35 kilometres into a World Heritage area to Sandy Bluff, guests experience the change from the wide open areas of a typical South Island river to the canyons at the top as one penetrates deep in the Mt Aspiring National Park.
Kayak on Lake Wakatipu with trips to Pigeon island from Glenorchy and trips from Kinloch to Mill Creek historic settlement and into some of the calm tributaries at the head of the lake. Waterskiing, windsurfing, and kiteboarding are also possible if you bring your equipment with you.
Horse around with one of the 3 stables in the area. Focus on a scenic amble through the Paradise area or along the river for beginners, or choose a trip for experienced riders that will take you cantering through wide open spaces and spectacular scenery. Private options are also available.
Experience the Routeburn river by canyoning down it. Jumping down shoots and abseiling across canyons will leave you exhilarated from the experience in this magic environment.
To top off the exhilaration jump out of a plane over this spectacular environment on a skydive trip with NZ Skydive.
Fishing is an all year round activity in the Glenorchy region. The Greenstone river is a famous back-country fishing river with fabulous trout pools and is available with a special backcountry licence in the fishing season. Kinloch is an ideal fishing spot with the fish hanging in the bay waiting for their food to flow down the Dart.
With so many things to see and do, it is important to allow plenty of time to explore the Glenorchy area.