The most scenic drives in New Zealand: Queenstown to Glenorchy

One of the nice surprises about driving around New Zealand, is the number of times you'll be driving from Point A to Point B when suddenly, almost out of nowhere, you enter a stretch of road that offers breathtaking scenery. Then there are roads that offer the same thing almost from beginning to end, and it's one of these that we are featuring in this blog, the drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy.

This 45-minute drive, in the heart of the South Island, is renowned as one of the best scenic drives in the world. And what a drive it is! So allow more than 45-minutes, because you'll be making photo-stops along the way, to marvel at the beauty of the lake and surrounding mountains.  

Glenorchy itself has become famous as one of the South Island hubs where parts of Middle Earth was created in the filming of the Lord of The Rings. At Paradise, a short drive away, the memorable scene in "The Two Towers" where Boromir lay dying was filmed. Even today, 17 years after scene was shot, hundreds of LoTR enthusiasts make the pilgrimage to Paradise in summer and winter to experience the stunning locality for themselves.

The town is surrounded by the spectacular Humboldt and Richardson Mountain Ranges, and provides a great 'leaping off' point for those wishing to explore both Fiordland and Mount Aspiring National Parks, as well as the Rees and Routeburn Valleys. Walkers and hikers will know that these are places that offer some of the most stunning scenery and beautiful hiking trails in the country, the most famous of which is the Routeburn Track. Take a one day walk-in, walk-out expedition on your own, or for something really special take the 3-day guided walk.


The township sits on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. It has a few cafes and shops, a small general store, a true country pub and accommodation from campsites and backpackers through to the luxury of award winning Blanket Bay Lodge.


‘Do the Dart’ with Dart River Jet-boat safaris, a popular one day experience, taking you by river into the heart of this amazing wilderness region.

You can take a scenic flight from here to Milford Sound (just 12 minutes by air), take a horse trek along the river or just walk a local trail to experience the tranquility and splendor of your surroundings. 

Glenorchy is featured as an option on all of our New Zealand itineraries, so mention your interest in visiting when we help you plan your itinerary.

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron • Jan 21, 2019