You may never have heard of New Zealand’s hidden treasure Glenorchy, but if you’ve watched the Lord of the Rings films then you will certainly have seen it. One of the most spectacular and otherworldly landscapes on earth, Glenorchy was the perfect setting for Middle Earth, including Isengard, Amon Hen, Lothlorien Forest, the Misty Mountains and Ithilien.


Just 45 minutes from Queenstown, the rustic town of Glenorchy commands some of the most spectacular views you will ever encounter. Every day here will bring a different adventure, as there’s so much to see and do. You can explore Lake Wakatipu – famous for its unique lightning-bolt shape – by jet boat or kayak, or take a leisurely cruise aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw. If you fancy a spot of fishing, the lake is teeming with trout, and its unusual standing wave, which causes a rise and fall of five inches, has made it central to Māori folklore: the locals believe that this is due to the heartbeat of the giant Matau, who slumbers in its depths.


Here’s how to see this breathtaking wilderness at its very best.


Take a jet boat ride with Dart River Adventures

Dart River Adventures are the only Queenstown jet boat operator allowed on the Dart River, and your waterborne safari will be an experience you will never forget. Travelling deep into the world-renowned Mt Aspiring National Park, you will glide across braided glacier-fed rivers, drinking in magnificent views of mountains as your guides enthral you with the area’s history and Māori legends. As you survey beech forests that have remained unchanged for 80 million years, you will truly believe that you have reached an untouched world – an unparalleled landscape like nothing else on earth.


dart river jet safaris boat close up


Experience the exhilaration of heli-skiing


Not familiar with heli-skiing? It simply means skiing in landscapes so lofty or remote that they cannot be accessed by ski lift. After an unforgettable flight to a Queenstown region, you will take to the slopes and experience the sheer exhilaration of soaring downhill with nothing except your boots and skis between you and the gleaming white landscape. Expert help will be on hand whenever you need it, thanks to avalanche-trained industry-certified guides and highly experienced pilots, who can pick the perfect drop-off point for your unforgettable descent.


man skiing close up down slopes


Enjoy a leisurely cruise aboard the Spirit of Queenstown


The modern, comfortable catamaran Spirit of Queenstown is a great way to cruise Lake Wakatipu and discover its hidden gem – lofty Mt Nicholas. The panoramic open-top viewing deck is the perfect spot from which to take photographs you will want to revisit forever as you savour views of the imposing Southern Alps. You will get to see the remarkable flora and fauna of Bob’s Cove up close and personal during a memorable stop, and can even have your picture taken with the captain in the wheelhouse. Free tea and coffee will be served throughout your journey and snacks and light meals are available from the onboard café.


During your tour of New Zealand from the UK, you should make sure you take in the spectacular Glenorchy region. Whether you choose to see this incredible slice of Middle Earth by water (whether aboard a jet boat, modern catamaran or historic cruiser), air or ski, you will create memories that last a lifetime.


Images by Eddy Milfort and  Jeff Hitchcock via Flickr and Mauro Paillex via Unsplash.