1. Enjoy kai with a view

Start your acquaintance with Glenorchy at a relaxed pace with a wander and a tasty bite to eat. Pick up a (very fine) pie at Mrs Woolly’s or a piece of the Trading Post’s famous carrot cake and amble down to the lake front. Stroll out on the wharf for superb views of Lake Whakatipu and the mountain ranges.

The historic red shed beside the wharf is where the people of Glenorchy stored and sorted goods that arrived on steamers. It was a railway station because the steamers were owned by the NZ Railways Department. But we’re talking the shortest railway in the country because the rails only ran from the end of the wharf to the shed.

Check out the panels inside about the history of the region and grab that iconic Glenorchy selfie in front of the shed. From the wharf turn right and follow the trail to the end of the lake and around the outskirts of town to join the Glenorchy Boardwalk.

This easy trail circles the Glenorchy Lagoon. Halfway round there’s a bench with panoramic views of the surrounding peaks. The perfect spot for a moment of serenity and some kai with a view.

Glenorchy Red Shed in Winter

The Glenorchy Red Shed, an iconic photo spot. Credit @the_cornishpixie on Instagram.


2.Visit the old Glenorchy Library

As you’re wandering around the Glenorchy township, take a detour onto Islay Street and visit the tiny, historic Glenorchy Library. It was established in 1891 as part of the Rees Valley School where it eventually housed a collection of over 1,000 books.

The building was moved into town in 1952. The main library’s now in the community centre next door, but you can visit the old library and step into a perspex foyer installed so you can experience one of the most miniscule libraries in the world.

The old library’s open on Wednesday and Friday from 1.30pm to 3.30pm but adorable for photo opportunities at all times.

Glenorchy Library, Altitude Tours

Glenorchy Library. Credit: Altitude Tours

3.Walk the Earnslaw Burn Track

Follow the footsteps of Bilbo Baggins and his intrepid gang as they walked out of Rivendell and into the Misty Mountains. The Earnslaw Burn Track with its beautiful waterfalls stood in for this lovely piece of Middle Earth.

The track starts by the Earnslaw Burn on Lovers Leap Road just off the Glenorchy-Paradise Road, 20 minutes out of Glenorchy. Follow the Burn through native bush to open tussock country at the head of the valley. Enjoy views of waterfalls, and Mount Earnslaw’s spectacular hanging glacier.

This memorable trek is not for the faint hearted and is one for experienced hikers. It’s a tough climb and takes 4-6 hours one way and around 10 hours return. Make sure to check conditions before you go, as the trail includes a river crossing.

Couple hiking Earnslaw Burn

Hiking Earnslaw Burn in summer

4.Head to Glenorchy Race Day

Glenorchy only has 200 residents, so it’s a sleepy kind of town. But once a year, on the first Saturday in January, Glenorchy comes to life for the Glenorchy Races.

A social highlight organised by the local rugby club, races include the Walk Trot Gallop, the Stockman’s Race and Double Banking (we’ve no idea either). Glenorchy and Queenstown are home to some classy riders, so competition is fierce.

People love to dress up, and the wackier the outfit the better. Fashion in the Field isn’t exactly taken seriously, and there’s often the odd over-excited streaker who casts caution and clothing to the wind.

What with a lolly scramble, running races for the kids, and a tug-of-war for grown-ups, we’re talking old fashioned Southern family fun. Afterwards people dance till late at the Glenorchy Hotel. Book your accommodation early.

Glenorchy Races

Annual Glenorchy Races

5.Do yoga at The Headwaters Eco Lodge.

Enjoy yoga with a view in the rustic luxury of The Headwaters Eco Lodge. Every week, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, the Humboldt Room fills up with an eclectic mix of Glenorchy locals and visitors in leggings and t-shirts.

The up-tempo class sets you up for your day. Experienced yoga teachers offer a nice blend of inspiring energy, and gentle adjustments so you get the most out of your class. End with a soothing closing relaxation before floating out into your day.

Yoga at Camp Glenorchy

Yoga at The Headwaters Eco Lodge

6.Play a round at the gorgeous Glenorchy golf course.

Glenorchy’s home to a beautiful 9-hole golf course in the recreation grounds on the corner of Mull and Oban Street.

With an honesty box and extraordinarily reasonable green fees, it’s the perfect course to give golf a try, or warm up your skills for some of Queenstown’s world-famous marquee courses. You can hire clubs at the Glenorchy Information Centre.

The peaceful course has wonderful views of the surrounding mountains. And if you’re smitten and can’t wait to come back, there’s a weekly 18-hole competition on a Sunday where you can try to outplay the locals.