Glenorchy Photo credit: Shotover Media

Just 45 minutes away from Queenstown at the head of Lake Wakatipu, Glenorchy is one of the most scenic spots in New Zealand. The area has been a must see on tourists’ itineraries since the mid-1860s!

It’s the backdrop to scenes in numerous films including Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. With stunning vistas and access to famous walks such as the Routeburn Track, visiting Glenorchy and its surrounds are a must do for movie buffs and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

The small town has a population of around 360 and was named by early European settlers after Glen Orchy in Argyll, Scotland. These early settlers arrived in 1861 in search of sheep grazing pastures and later for gold and scheelite.

Early Maori set up temporary camps in the area to rest after long journeys from the west coast. Though they never permanently settled there, they also visited the area in search of greenstone, or pounamu. The beautiful stone has held great significance in Maori culture since the 12th Century.

The largest surviving alluvial pounamu boulder in the world is hidden in the Dart Valley, near Glenorchy. Known as ‘The Dart Stone’, it has remained undisturbed since the early Maori visitors and has protected status. Visitors need written permission to enter this particular area. Glenorchy remains a popular tourist spot. Aside from incredible walking and hiking, must-do activities include exhilarating sightseeing with helicopter company Heli Glenorchy, horse trekking with Dart Stables and thrilling jet boat rides on the river’s narrow braids with Dart River Jet.

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