LOTR fans will know this place as one of the significant movie filming locations, but to me it’s just another one of NZ’s most beautiful places. By this stage of the road trip I had seen a lot of landscape, driven through lots of mountains and valleys and a long a few coastlines, so I was wondering how much can this landscape really differ? Im also not a Lordy fan but I didn’t really care, because Glenorchy is a beautiful place to visit regardless! It would’ve been cool to stay at one of the ranch camps or lodges in Glenorchy for a night but we went as a day trip from Queenstown.
A fair bit of exploring was planned for the day and it was a 45min drive away so we left just before 8am. Not long after leaving Queenstown the road scenery shifted to the coastline with incredible views of the lake. It was quite a windy and narrow road so I had to keep my eyes from checking out the views! I would’ve stopped at the lookouts for some pictures but Glenorchy is supposed to be the most amazing to see early in the morning. It was easy enough to stop by on the way back anyway.
Glenorchy township is pretty cosy and lacks a bustle. I”ll bet the population probably doesn’t go beyond 100. There’s only a handful of accommodation options but they all had a back country stables theme which was really nice. The main attraction here is the horse trekking and since we didn’t book one in we thought we’d try our luck with one of the 9am rides, hoping there’d be space or a no-show we could fill in on. Sadly for us, horse trekking was inevitably booked out. Didn’t matter! There was plenty we were going to explore by car.
We dropped by the popular trading post cafe not far from the river, where I got some way too fruity slice of carrot cake for $7.50. I hadn’t eaten breakfast this morning so I didn’t feel so bad. We got a local map and started off exploring off-road tracks where LOTR was filmed. Over a couple of bridges, over fiords, passing by lake lookouts, loose cattle, and fields of sheep! I’ve never seen so many of them in one place (should’ve taken a photo eh!). But dam are they living a good life, I thought. Compared to the sheep and cow I met in India, I considered NZ sheep to be meditative, ‘free-range’ sheep. They have such abundance of green grass, amazing sunlight and fresh air, and all the land they could imagine to roam and sleep all day. Zero pollution AND they get to see the starry night every night. I’d love to be a fucking NZ sheep lol.
We probably drove off-road in numerous places for a good hour before heading back into the main township area. We had to return the car by 2pm and I wanted to check out the General Store here (the only souvenir shop), so we were making good time. There was also a little Art garden on the way back, but it charged $19 for entry so I decided to give that a miss. But we got to see this much:
Glenorchy was really nice to see overall. If we didnt’ have to return the rental car, doing a horse trek would’ve been our afternoon. But turned out we went to Weber circus back in Queenstown. I never go to circuses and I figured this one was more for amateurs but it was only $25 and it was something to fill our afternoon. I always see these circuses back home shown locally and never show an interest so this was a first. I probably wouldn’t go again though, it was more for kids and the acts were honestly not that impressive. But I do give credit to the performers. It’s a tough job and probably one of the most underestimated, especially with a lacklustre crowd so I admire what they do.
We pretty much took a chill evening after the circus, resting up for the last night in NZ. Shame it was cloudy again – I never got to do any proper stargazing in NZ after all!