If you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings (LOTR) you’ve heard of Queenstown-Glenorchy the site for many of the filming sites in Middle Earth on the South Island of New Zealand. The filming sets are all gone of course, but you can still imagine, Isengard, The Misty Mountain and Rohan.  Even Narnia was shot in this beautiful land. Here are some thoughts about what to do on the South Island of New Zealand.

Sorry I have been so backlogged that I have been slow to get these out.  Here are more of my adventures from my trip last October!  I already told you about the Wineries and the Onsen Hot Pools and Bungy jumping. If you missed those I linked them.

The road to Glenorchy is one of the most picturesque drives anywhere on the South Island of New Zealand.

Road to Glenorchy-1

Road to Glenorchy

Our first day in Queenstown, we hopped in the car and drove about 45 minutes to Glenorchy.  Of course, I had to plan for more time as I kept saying “pull over”!  The views are insane!! Oops!!! Remember they drive on the left side of the road. Luckily my husband had that totally mastered as the roads here, while paved, are crazy narrow, hilly and windy.  The road is a scenic wonderland. Glenorchy is on the northern shore of Lake Wakatipu where Queenstown also sits.

Glenorchy lake-1

Glenorchy and Lake Wakatipu

The mountain ranges of the Southern Alps that surround the lake will leave you speechless and in awe of Mother Nature. The lake offers all sorts of adventures from boat rides, jet boat rides and kayaking to name a few.

Glenorchy mountains-1

Southern Alps around Glenorchy

This town is the gateway to the Milford Sound area. If you are looking for things to do on the South Island this town has yummy cafes, bars and restaurants and since the sun was out we ate outside at The Glenorchy Cafe – the GYC! 


Glenorchy lunch-1

My quiche was outstanding!

There are many opportunities for hiking in this area whether you are looking for a short walk or a week long trek.

We stopped along the drive to watch the skydiving at Skydive Southern Alps. Brave people!!! In town the jetty gets you out and immersed into the views. The General Store is a must stop and of course, everyone takes a photo at the famous Glenorchy shed.

Glenorchy jetty-1

The jetty is a great spot for a selfie.

Some great places to pull over on the way out are:  Seven Mile Point, Wilson’s Bay; Pig & Pigeon Island viewpoint; Bob’s Cove with views of the Remarkables and the Lake; and Bennett’s Bluff Lookout.  These are all really well marked.

Glenorchy mountains lunch-1

Southern Alps

Seven Mile Point Track Tom-1

Seven Mile Point Track

Just outside Queenstown the Kawarau Gorge, the site of the Anduin River in LOTR was a quick stop on our way north to Lake Tekapo and Twizel (home to Gondor). For all you LOTR fans you’ll recognize this gorge from the movie where the 2 giant statues stood as the Fellowship headed down the river.

New Zealand Onsen and Bungee-6

Kawarau Gorge

Queenstown surrounded by the Remarkables mountain range is a site I would gladly wake up to every morning. I truly think this town must be the adventure capital of the world.  There are endless things to do here. Of course, we checked out the wineries, took the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak, hit up the Queenstown Gardens and visited the Onsen Hot Pools.

Queenstown from Gondola-1

Queenstown from Bob’s Peak

From the top of the Skyline Gondola the views of Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps are crazy. Try your hand at Luge, bungy jumping, paragliding, bike riding,or hiking. On the lake below take a leisurely cruise around on the TSS Earnslaw steamship.  In town, ride a segway, go jet boating, or sit at one of the many lakeside restaurants.


Sadly for us the weather did not cooperate for our schedule helicopter tours to Milford Sound.  A major heartbreak as I really wanted to try my hand at taking photos from a helicopter.

Glenorchy, NZ-1

Next up: more from New Zealand and our trip to Wanaka, then Lake Tekapo and Aoraki/Mount Cook. I’d love your comments on this blog and anything else you might want me to write about. Have you been to New Zealand? What was your favorite place or thing you did?

Here are links to more NZ adventures: Wine Tasting in Central Otago and Bungy jumping; Spa Day in Queentown- Onsen Hot Pools; Land of Lord of the Rings – Queentown-Glenorchy