A picturesque village at the head of Lake Wakatipu is known as the ‘Gateway to Paradise’.
Although the title may seem presumptuous, it is true. For those who have been searching for Paradise it’s just 20 km northwest of Glenorchy. It lies beside the Dart River offering picture-perfect views of the Humboldt Range and Mt.Earnslaw, but was named for the local paradise ducks rather than the idyllic scenery. The road passes a tranquil lake and enters a sub-alpine forest dripping with moss. A short walk from the road takes you to a lovely waterfall.
Glenorchy also holds the key for travellers who are keen to do New Zealand’s Great Walks. The main access to the renowned Routeburn, Rees-Dart and Greenstone-Caples Tracks is through Glenorchy and then up the valley to the track entry points. The drive up Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy is worthwhile even for non-trampers, as ever-changing alpine views unfold with every turn of the road.
The tramping opportunities in this area are the finest in the country. The fame of the Routeburn is eclipsed only by the Milford Track. The Routeburn crosses the Humboldt Range through spectacular scenery with dense forest, river flats, plunging waterfalls, and alpine lakes. The Rees-Dart is the toughest tramp, crossing alpine passes and rough terrain. The Greenstone and Caples are gently graded valley walks for the most part.
The Dart River is navigable by jet boat far upstream. This takes visitors deep into the Mt.Aspiring National Park. You can penetrate one of the country’s most beautiful wilderness areas without taking a step on land.
Glenorchy also offers a tranquil setting for those who simply want to relax and enjoy the mountain air. A perfect retreat where you can go fishing, riding or walking around the local wetland areas, taking in the mountain scenery. The town has a petrol station, accommodation, grocery shop, a couple of pubs and cafès, a small museum and a golf course.
Above all, Glenorchy is a peaceful place. An ideal base for unwinding or for venturing out on the Great Walks.