Looking for things to do in Glenorchy? Then you’ve come to the right place.

If you happen to be visiting Queenstown soon and are looking for an excuse to extend your trip a few days, then Glenorchy, less than an hour’s drive away, gives you the perfect reason to do exactly that. Despite being a small town with less than a thousand residents, Glenorchy certainly punches above its weight with the number of attractions and activities it has to choose from.

To prove the point, we found 15 fantastic things to do in Glenorchy for you to create an itinerary that will easily fill up a few days (and maybe even more).

1. Canyoning

 

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We start the list with something to get the heart pumping at a rapid rate. Canyoning, the adventure tourism experience that involves climbing, abseiling, sliding and jumping in and around mountain streams, is a great way to cool down and let off a bit of steam.

The Routeburn Canyon operated by Canyon Explorers is a proper full-day experience that takes you into the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage area. It’s a sensory overload for those that can handle it which will easily be one of the most memorable of your trip.

2. Dart River Jet Boating

From one thrill ride to another, the famous Dart River is home to Wilderness Jet – a fast-paced jet boating ride set amongst the eye-watering surroundings of the area. Unlike some jet boating experiences, this one is an immersive adventure with two hours in the boat.

The journey takes you through the wondrous Mount Aspiring National Park with knowledgeable guides explaining the history of the place including local Maori myths and legends. In between it all, you’ll be travelling at top speeds on glacier-fed rivers with a few 360 degree spins thrown in too, all whilst surrounded by the stunning mountain ranges of the Southern Alps.

3. Glenorchy Animal Experience


One of the highest-rated attractions in Glenorchy is the Glenorchy Animal Experience, a place that has won the hearts of animal lovers, far and wide. A family-run farm, the Glenorchy Animal Experience lets you get up close and personal with some of the most adorable farm animals going around. Horses, miniature horses, cattle, dogs, sheep, alpacas, llamas, Kunekune pigs – the list goes on. Kids love feeding the animals and the exquisite scenery and views are something that all will enjoy.

4. Glenorchy Walkway

The Glenorchy Walkway, also known as the Glenorchy Lagoon Walkway, is a lovely 1-2 hour hiking trail that takes you around the lagoon and wetland, known for its beautiful scenery and birdlife. The surrounding mountains set the tone and during the walk, you’ll see the likes of the grey duck (parera), grey teal (tete), South Island oystercatcher (torea) the New Zealand falcon (karearea) and more.

5. Glenorchy Wharf and Red Shed Photos


Glenorchy is blessed with plenty of great photo spots, but a couple of our favourites are the Glenorchy Wharf and the famous red boat shed, conveniently right next to each other. The wharf itself extends out into the waters of Lake Wakatipu, giving you an astonishing panoramic view of the surrounding area. The red boatshed is simply iconic, a relic from the time of early European settlers, it’s quickly becoming one of the most Instagramable locations in the country.

6. Heli Glenorchy

Glenorchy is a great place to see on foot but by air, you’ll likely be lost for words. Heli Glenorchy gives you the once in a lifetime opportunity to take to the skies for a scenic tour that showcases the very best natural features of the area. They offer a range of different flights and charters but one of the most popular is the snow landing on the Humboldt Mountains. “Stunning” is the word often used with incredible views back across Glenorchy and the surrounding regions.

7. High Country Horses


Winding back the clock, High Country Horses is a relaxing and nostalgic experience of a bygone era with huge appeal. With 150,000 acres of pristine back-country to explore, you’ll redefine your own sense of escapism on this horse trek, a deeply personal and intimate tour of nature. With half-day and multi-day tours available, there’s something for everyone with experienced guides leading the way and beautiful, well-mannered and trained horses to ride on.

8. Kayaking

Kayaking is one of those activities that everyone loves and there are few better places to do it than Glenorchy on the idyllic waters of Lake Wakatipu. Rippled Earth Kayaking are a great local operator that’ll make it happen for you with fun and safety in mind. They offer a fantastic Island Safari half-day guided tour that takes you to a couple of nearby islands with secluded beaches and the chance to explore the natural wildlife reserve.

9. Lake Sylvan Track


Another beautiful body of water not far from Glenorchy is Lake Sylvan which can be strolled at your leisure on its track in just under two hours. The native beech forest is rich with birdlife (robins, fantails, riflemen etc) and the waters have native fish species as well like brown trout and kokopu.

There’s a viewing platform about 40 minutes into the loop walk where you can enjoy views of the Mount Aspiring National Park and Mount Earnslaw. If the conditions are right, its glassy waters will create mesmerising reflections that’ll make dazzling photos.

10. Lord of the Rings Tour

Fans of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies will know that Glenorchy featured prominently as a filming location for Peter Jackson’s epic films which are great fun to visit to relive the magic. Lothlórien, Isengard Lookout and the Ithilien Camp can all be found on Google Maps and visited on your own. Our great friends at NOMAD Safaris do a great 4WD tour to these locations and more. They even bring props from Middle Earth so you can take photos and get right into the moment!

11. Mrs Woolly’s General Store


In the modern world, you scarcely see any ‘general’ stores anymore but that’s only part of what makes a visit to Mrs Woolly’s General Store so special. It’s a hub of everything Kiwiana and things Kiwis enjoy, excelling especially well on the food front.

You’ll probably find yourself stopping here every day on your trip for their pies (pork belly is especially good), muffins, scones, cakes, coffee and more. They also sell basic groceries, camping items, souvenirs and other high-quality products for yourself or friends back home.

12. Paradise

To say the Paradise road sign is the only reason to go there would be an injustice but there aren’t many official road signs in the world with nothing but the word ‘paradise’ on them. The motivation to get there for that reason is therefore pretty strong and well worth the 20-minute drive from Glenorchy. The nearby area is perfectly good for stretching the legs with Diamond Lake and the previously mentioned Lothlórien Lord of the Rings filming location, great spots to see.

13. Paradise Ziplines


For the uninitiated, Ziplining is a fantastic adrenaline activity where one is fastened to a harness and sent hurtling down a zipline, in amongst a beautiful (in NZ anyway) setting. 

Paradise Ziplines is one of the best examples of that going around with 8 ziplines (equal to 1km) of fast-paced fun to be had. The scenery is diverse and captivating, set in a gorge with native beech forest, alpine streams and more. Their guides will be there with you every step of the way which means you can fully enjoy the experience for all that it is.

14. Routeburn Track

There are some great walks to do in and around Glenorchy but there’s also one that’s officially a “Great Walk” too. The Routeburn Track is one of the 10 Great Walks of New Zealand and in many people’s minds, the most magnificent. A multi-day hike, done between 2-4 days, the Routeburn Track takes you through, not one but two national parks. Snow-capped mountains, ice-carved valleys, waterfalls, stunning lakes – it’s an endless feast for the eyes.

15. Scenic Flights


Last but not least, one of the most spectacular things to do in Glenorchy is to take a scenic flight with Glenorchy Air. One of the leading operators in the region, Glenorchy Air offer a range of different scenic flight experiences from an intimate sunrise flight past Mount Aspiring, to flights that go further afield as far as Stewart Island.

After nearly 30 years of flying in the area, they know all the best spots to see which means you’ll get to witness those spots from the best seats in the house.

Some Amazing Things To Do In Glenorchy

With so many great things to do in Glenorchy, you’ll certainly have no regrets about spending some time there as part of a bigger holiday or perhaps even a standalone weekend away. It’s one of many great small towns in the area like Cromwell and Arrowtown that are fantastic to visit with plenty to keep you busy for days.

Another bonus of a trip to Glenorchy is the drive. Queenstown to Glenorchy is one of New Zealand’s great drives as you wind your way around the shore of Lake Wakatipu. Be sure to have your camera ready – the views are spectacular.