Glenorchy is a township that is located on the northern shores of Lake Wakatipu in the Otago region of the South Island, New Zealand. The drive to Glenorchy is about 40 minutes from Queenstown and you follow a windey, hilly road along the shores of Lake Wakatipu. There are some narrow sections of road you will need to be careful with and a couple of viewing places for photos. While you will be hard pressed to get a spot amidst all of the campervans and tourist buses, if you can then you will end up with some stunning photos of Lake Wakatipu.
Go skiing or biscuiting
When the lake is flat this area can be perfect for a bit of skiing and biscuiting. Both a good spot for beginners or the near professional skier the wide stretches of the lake give many opportunities to ski or biscuit up and down one side or wherever you please. There is a boat ramp in Glenorchy to head out from and from there as long as you have a good wetsuit and a sunny day you will be away. Even in the summer Lake Wakatipu does not get much above 11 degrees celsius. Some summer seasons you will still be able to see snow on the surrounding hills so a wetsuit is paramount to water sports in the area, along with a life jacket of course.
Cast a line out
Due to the two rivers, the Rees River and the Dart River draining into Lake Wakatipu near Glenorchy there are a lot of good spots for fishing. You an either rock hop around the shores near the small settlement of Kinloch and fish from the lakeshores or you can slowly drift around the shallower depths of the lake past the river outlets. You will need to organise a fishing licence from Fish and Game New Zealand either for the day, or the season, and there are fishing limits for number of fish you can bring home. You also will need to remember you can only use non-baited lures. This can be quite a peaceful activity to start the day, or finish it. If you really wanted there are other locations you can boat around to such as past the Blanket Bay resort or to Bobs Cove further South. If you have a good day you may be able to catch a nice NZ salmon or trout.
Jet the Dart River
One of the Dart River jets leaves from Glenorchy and heads into Mt Aspiring National Park. While this is not something I have yet done it is very popular with tourists and the jets are often seen to be packed with people particularly over the summer months. This is something that I would very much like to do one day. If jet boating is not for you there are also places to hire kayaks or jetskis.
Explore the area
The Glenorchy area is perfect for the adventurer with the stunning mountains that separate Glenorchy from the West Coast of the South Island, the ever-flowing rivers that have cut into and shaped the landscape and the scattered sprinkling of lakes, walking tracks and back country roads to explore.
If you head up the Glenorchy-Paradise Road from the township, you will cross the Rees River before coming across Diamond Lake. This is a smaller lake nestled among some neighbouring farmland. It is quite a relaxing place with the still water that reflects the environment it is in like a mirror. There is a small, almost sheep track you can tread around some of the shores of Diamond Lake. It is a bit swampy along the shores so you will need some good boots.
There are many walks in the area available for people of all fitness levels. The area boasts one of the most well known, longer walks in New Zealand, being the Routeburn. You can do smaller sections of this if you wish, or you can do the full 3-4 day hike that the Routeburn is known for. While I would like to do some smaller walks in the area in the near future the weather this summer has not been good enough for a little walk. For me, doing the Routeburn is probably a little bit outside my fitness capabilities for the moment.
Wander the Glenorchy Towns
There are a lot of places in Glenorchy to sit down to a good meal and spend a couple of hours sitting in the sun and having a nice glass of whatever tickles your fancy. On top of the eateries there are a couple of eclectic stores, such as the Glenorchy General Store, where you can pass some time looking through the shelves of assorted food, accompaniments, camping supplies and fishing gear. These type of ‘supply you with everything’ stores can only be found in small towns like Glenorchy, and can be fun to rummage through and see what you can find. You can also wander down to the wharf and look out over the lake, or play a game of cricket on the grassed area outside the old Glenorchy barn.
The small town of Kinloch is nestled not far from Glenorchy and can be accessed by following the Glenorchy-Paradise Road before turning onto Priory Road and then to Kinloch Road. All of these roads link into each other so should be relatively easy to follow. Kinloch is a quaint place that you enter into on a dusty gravel road. There are some spots along the shores of the lake for a picnic, so some fishing or to spend some time reading a book. What I found quite interesting was being able to the change in the sediment rich river water to the clear blue lake water as they intermingle not far off the shore from Kinloch. There are quite strong currents in the area with the outflow of the Dart River right adjacent to the town, so swimming is probably best done from Glenorchy.