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9 BEST in Hikes in Glenorchy, New Zealand

9 BEST in Hikes in Glenorchy, New Zealand

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Are you looking to explore the amazing trails around Glenorchy but don’t know where to start? Well, with this blog, I hope to change that!

Glenorchy is one of my favorite small towns in New Zealand, and whenever I make a day trip here, I always make sure to include one (or two) hikes along the way.

However, for first-time visitors, Glenorchy’s rather off-the-beaten-path feel can make knowing what trails to hike a bit tricky. Before I moved to Queenstown, I was an excited traveler who unfortunately missed out on many of the best hikes in Glenorchy simply because I didn’t know they existed.

So in this blog, I’ll share the 9 best hikes that every visitor should consider doing. From multi-day treks to short walks, this list has got it all!

1. Glenorchy Walkway

Bailey enjoys the reflections along the Glenorchy Walkway
On a clear day, the reflections are out of this world!
  • Overview: A short and easy nature walk that’s perfect for all levels of fitness
  • Distance: 5 km (3.2 mi)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starts from: The Glenorchy Jetty

The Glenorchy Walkway is my favorite short walk in Glenorchy. The 5-kilometer (3.1 miles) loop track starts from the Glenorchy Jetty and travels through the Glenorchy Lagoon. There, you’ll walk along a boardwalk through the swamp-like lagoon. As you do, be sure to look down, you’re actually walking through the Dead Marshes in the Lord of the Rings!

On a calm day, the lagoon reflects the Humboldt Mountains almost perfectly, and that view is one you definitely won’t want to miss. It’s also a great place to spot birds, so take your time and keep your eyes peeled!

The Glenorchy Walkway is completely flat and isn’t really a hike, instead, it’s more of a nature walk. At a steady pace, allow just over an hour to walk the entire loop. The Glenorchy Walkway is one of the most popular free things to do in Glenorchy and should be on every visitor’s bucket list!

Related Read: One of the best ways to visit Glenorchy is on a guided Lord of the Rings tour from Queenstown, as there are many film locations surrounding Glenorchy!

2. Routeburn Track

Bailey hikes along the Routeburn Track in New Zealand
This is a Great Walk worth doing!
Bailey on the Routeburn Track in Mt Aspiring National Park, New Zealand
Climbing up on the Routeburn Track!
  • Overview: This is one of the most challenging but rewarding hikes in New Zealand!
  • Distance: 32 km (20 mi), but you don’t have to walk the entire trail
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Starts from: The Routeburn Shelter

The Routeburn Track is the most famous option for those looking for a challenging hike in Glenorchy. This 32-kilometer (20 miles) point-to-point track is one of New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks and one of the best trails on the South Island.

The trail starts in Mount Aspiring National Park at the Routeburn Shelter and finishes in Fiordland National Park at The Divide. Highlights along the way include Routeburn Falls, Lake Mackenzie, Lake Harris, The Key Summit, and Bridal Veil Falls.

The Routeburn Track is typically hiked over 1 to 3 days depending on how crazy you are (doing 32 kilometers in one day is pretty crazy, but people do it!). Along the way, you can choose to camp or stay in New Zealand mountain huts run by the DOC.

Bookings are essential and they must be made well in advance to avoid missing out. The Routeburn Huts are a bit on the pricier side at $68 NZD for New Zealand locals and $102 NZD for foreigners each night, but they are an easy way to make your pack lighter and keep you warm!

I’ve done the full Routeburn Track and loved it! The views, wildlife, and friends I made along the way made for one heck of an adventure.

3. Routeburn Nature Walk (day hike)

The very start of the Routeburn Track crossing the first suspension bridge
The very start of the Routeburn Track crossing the first suspension bridge
  • Overview: An easygoing trail with plenty of viewpoints – perfect for families!
  • Distance: 3.2 km (2 mi)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starts from: The Routeburn Shelter

Not everyone has the time or experience to hike the full Routeburn Track. Luckily, the Routeburn Track is the easiest Great Walk to hike for just the day!

From the Routeburn Shelter just outside of Glenorchy, you can choose between a few different day hiking routes. These lead to magnificent viewpoints high above the valley at Routeburn Falls Hut, but also to beautiful rivers and valleys that only take a few hours to reach.

There are a lot of different itineraries, and I actually have a blog on the best day hikes on the Routeburn Track to help visitors pick the best one for them. If you want to hike parts of the Routeburn Track then you need to read it before you go!

You can also join a guided hike of the Routeburn Track to make your planning easier. This half-day tour is a great way to get a taste of the trail on a 2.5-hour hike, all while learning about the area from your local guide. This tour provides transportation From Queenstown and will make other scenic stops along the way, so you really get to see a lot of the Glenorchy area! This is a great option for beginner hikers or for those without transportation and can be booked for $225 NZD.

There is also this full-day hiking tour that will take you on a 6.5-kilometer (4-mile) portion of the Routeburn Track. I love that this tour provides all the fun of a day of hiking and exploring, but takes any stress out of it by planning the route, driving, and even bringing a picnic lunch and water. You simply get to enjoy the beauty of the Routeburn Track and Glenorchy! This full-day tour lasts for 8 hours, including scenic stops before you reach the trail.

This tour is $340 NZD and should be booked in advance, as it’s a great way to get outside and explore!

4. Greenstone Track

  • Overview: A beautifully varied route with forests, valleys, and more to explore
  • Distance: 69 km (43 mi)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Starts from: The Greenstone parking lot

The Greenstone Track is another multi-day hike in Glenorchy. The point-to-point trail is 40 kilometers (25 miles) long and starts from the Greenstone parking lot near Kinloch, and finishes at The Divide on the road between Te Anau and Milford Sound (same as Routeburn Track). Although not a Great Walk, the trail is still stunningly beautiful.

The hike one way takes around 2 to 3 days, and along the way you can stay at DOC-serviced huts for $25 NZD per person per night. These huts are first come first serve, but you need to pay the fee ahead of time. A popular option is to link the Greenstone with the Caples Track to complete a 60-kilometer (37.2 miles) loop back to the trailhead. You can even join the Greenstone Track with the Routeburn Track for an even longer hike!

The Greenstone Track is a good option for those who wanted to hike the Routeburn Track but couldn’t get bookings. All huts on the track are first come first serve so no bookings are required, not to mention they’re much cheaper than the Routeburn!

5. Earnslaw Burn Track

A tent set up below Earnslaw Burn Glacier on the Earnslaw Burn Track
Earnslaw Burn Track
Bailey enjoys a coffee at Earnslaw Burn campsite
Not a bad place for a coffee!
  • Overview: A quiet but difficult route through the remote mountain areas of NZ
  • Distance: 24 km (15 mi)
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Starts from: Lovers Leap Road

The Earnslaw Burn Track is a rather off-the-beaten-path trail in Glenorchy, that if hiked in a day, isn’t for the faint-hearted. The trail starts on Lovers Leap Road just off Glenorchy-Paradise Road and takes hikers along Earnslaw Burn and through beech forest before reaching Mt Earnslaw and the Earnslaw Glacier.

The trail is 24 kilometers (15 miles) long with 848 meters (2,782 feet) of elevation gain. It is brutally hard to complete in a day and involves hiking for around 10 hours in total.

To make the trail easier some people opt to spend a night camping in New Zealand’s backcountry near the glacier. If you plan on carrying your gear for the night, allow at least 6 hours each way, and be prepared for a remote night under the stars carrying everything you need!

This is definitely only a hike for the experienced who know how to stay safe in the remote mountain areas of New Zealand. Nonetheless, it’s still one of the best hikes in Glenorchy!

6. Lake Sylvan Track

  • Overview: A easygoing trail that’s ideal for campers!
  • Distance: 6.4 km (4 mi)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Starts from: The Sylvan Campsite

The Lake Sylvan Track is one of the most peaceful hikes in Glenorchy. This small lake is located near Routeburn Shelter just off Routeburn Road at the Sylvan Campsite. The Sylvan Campsite is a great place to stay for those in campervans and it’s cheap! Just past the campsite, the trail to the lake begins.

You start by crossing the suspension bridge over the Dart River and continue on until you reach the lake. From here, the track makes a short loop before heading back to the campground. The trail is almost completely flat and usually uncrowded.

All up, you only need around 2 hours to hike to the lake and back. It’s a worthwhile adventure for those who like to get off the beaten path!

Note: The bridge that connects the Lake Slyvan Track to the campground was destroyed in a flood. Be sure to check for updates and the trail’s conditions before setting off!

Related Read: The best way to explore the best hikes on the South Island is on a road trip! You can rent a campervan in Queenstown or Christchurch and get to some epic hiking trails.

7. Invincible Gold Mine Track

  • Overview: Learn all about Otago’s mining history with epic viewpoints along the way
  • Distance: 4.5 km (2.8 mi)
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Starts from: Rees Valley Road

Gold mining used to be a huge industry in the Otago region (where Glenorchy is located). Queenstown was actually once called “The Camp” because it was a mining camp. Miners searched far and wide for gold in the area, and in a small mine near Glenorchy, a group of miners struck gold!

That mine is now accessible via Invincible Gold Mine Track. The trail starts 30 minutes outside Glenorchy on Rees Valley Road. Along the way, you can see lots of machinery from the gold mining days that now sit rusting away, leaving only small traces of New Zealand’s largest gold rush behind. On the trail, be sure to keep an eye on the ground, you never know what you may find!

Invincible Gold Mine Track also offers stunning views of the Rees Valley so it’s both a historical walk and viewpoint trail. In fact, I’d say I like the views more! In total, it takes around 2 to 3 hours to complete the trail at a steady pace. The trail is 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles) out and back and although not flat, it’s rated as an easy to moderate hiking trail in Glenorchy.

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8. Bob’s Cove

The jetty at Bob;s Cove along the Bob's Peak Track near Queenstown
The jetty at Bob’s Cove along the Bob’s Peak Track near Queenstown
Bailey at Bob's Peak near Queenstown, New Zealand
On a clear day, this is a must-do!

The next two trails on this list are actually closer to Queenstown, however, they’re conveniently located on Glenorchy-Queenstown Road. So, they are hikes you should consider doing on your way to Glenorchy!

Bob’s Cove Track is a super short hike that’s one of the best easy hikes in Queenstown. It starts at the beautiful Bob’s Cove, a common place many of the cruises in Queenstown also visit. From the beach area, the trail leads up to a stunning viewpoint over Lake Wakatipu and Bob’s Cove.

The trail only takes around 30 minutes to hike so it’s really short and a great trail to warm your legs up before you get to Glenorchy! Many tours to Glenorchy stop here, so if you choose to join one, you can still enjoy this beautiful area.

9. Mount Crichton Loop

Views of Lake Wakatipu from the trail with Lake Dispute below
All of the trails around this area link up. You can see Lake dispute below with this photo being taken from the Mt Crichton Loop

The Mt Crichton Loop Track is actually located just a short walk from Bob’s Cove. However, this trail is much longer at 8 kilometers (5 miles). The loop track is another gold mining trail and along the way, you’ll visit an old gold mining tunnel, the Sam Summers Hut, and even a stunning waterfall. Part of the trail also has epic views of Lake Dispute and Lake Wakatipu.

All up, it takes around 2 hours to hike the full 8 kilometers (5 miles), but be sure to go clockwise – it’s much easier as it’s a gradual climb. Going the other way means doing the hardest part hiking up instead of down!  

Mt Crichton Loop is one of the best hiking trails in Queenstown for its historic attractions, but it’s not the most beautiful. With that said, it’s dog-friendly and perfect for the entire family!

Related Read: Keep your hiking adventures going! There are many amazing hikes on the South Island to keep you busy your entire holiday!

Other Things to do in Glenorchy

bailey dresses up on a Lord of the Rings Tour from Queenstown to Glenorchy
I loved the tour even though I’m not the biggest LOTR fan!

Besides hiking, Glenorchy is quite limited on things to do so below we’ve highlighted the other main attractions in the area. Many of these are included on a tour of Glenorchy from Queenstown which is handy if you don’t have a car!

Glenorchy Animal Experience

The Glenorchy Animal Experience is a fully functional farm that is also a petting zoo! This activity is actually fun for all ages, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. You can see iconic New Zealand sheep, baby lambs, pigs, donkeys, miniature horses and Clydesdale horses, llamas, goats, chickens, and even more farm animals. The best part is that you’re supporting a local business by visiting!

Tickets are $25 NZD for adults and $15 NZD for children. It is located just 5 minutes outside of Glenorchy, and is an excellent activity if you’re visiting Queenstown with kids.

Lord of the Rings tour

As mentioned earlier, Glenorchy is a haven for Lord of the Rings fans, as it is home to many notable film locations! If you haven’t been to Hobbiton yet or want to see more LOTR-related sights then taking this half-day tour is an excellent way to do so.

From Queenstown, you’ll be driven around to film locations (and other scenic viewpoints) with in-depth commentary the whole way. You can even try on LOTR costumes and get access to exclusive locations!

This tour also includes snacks and coffee and is a fantastic way to experience Glenorchy. You can book this tour in advance for $189 NZD.

Glenorchy sightseeing tour from Queenstown

With so many beautiful things to see in Glenorchy, the best way to see it all is by taking this guided tour from Queenstown! This is a great option if you don’t have your own transportation or want to dive deeper into Glenorchy’s hidden gems. This half-day tour will give you time to explore Glenorchy’s cute town, explore the shops, and check out the scenic views. You’ll learn about the fascinating Maori history, as well as the Lord of the Rings history!

This tour has both morning and afternoon departure times and lasts about 5 hours. You can book this tour for $179 NZD in advance here!

Photography tour of Glenorchy

If you love shooting on your DSLR you can take this photography tour of Glenorchy. The tour is led by a local photographer, so you will hop around to all of the best scenic spots, and there’s a lot- trust me! They’ll also share their tips and tricks for higher-quality images, so this is great for any skill level. You do need to have your own camera for this tour, but transportation and their local expertise is provided.

You can book this 5-hour photography tour for $380 NZD.

Where to Stay in Glenorchy

Two kayaks sit on the beach at Kinloch Campsite in Glenorchy
Talk about camping with a view!

Glenorchy is a beautiful place to spend a night or two. Honestly, the atmosphere is so peaceful and nothing like Queenstown. It’s the perfect place to take a break and unwind! That said, the majority of hotels in Glenorchy are for mid-range budgets and above, as there aren’t many super budget-friendly places to stay here (I’d recommend staying in Queenstown for more options on a budget).

The best places to stay in Glenorchy are:

Kinloch Wilderness Retreat – $/$$

The Kinloch Retreat is a fantastic mid-range hotel located a short drive out of Glenorchy in an even quieter location on the other side of Lake Wakatipu. It’s also the most budget-friendly of the options available, with dorm rooms available all the way up to cozy six-bedroom houses.

Next to Kinloch Retreat is a DOC-owned (but operated by the retreat) campground with non-powered sites for $15 NZD per person per night. Of course, if you want something a little more luxurious, stay at the retreat and enjoy access to the kitchen lounge, as well as an on-site restaurant.

A bed in a dorm here at the Kinloch Retreat starts from $65 NZD per night, while you can enjoy a one-night stay in a twin room from $170 NZD per night. With just 19 rooms available, make sure to check availability early and book your stay here to avoid missing out.

The Headwaters Eco Lodge – $$$

This place has it all! The Headwaters Eco Lodge is a holiday park and offers luxury accommodations with stellar views. Not only are breakfast and a 3-course dinner included daily, but as their name suggests, the hotel focuses on being environmentally conscious, which I love. All rooms also enjoy free Wi-Fi, heated floors, and you get free parking with your room.

A one-night stay here at The Headwaters Eco Lodge starts at $790 NZD, and you can check availability and reserve your room online here.

Ecoscapes – $$$

EcoScapes is a luxury hotel with the most amazing views. Each room has a large glass wall, so you don’t miss a single sunset or sunrise if you don’t want to. Family-owned, all room reservations also include a fantastic breakfast, and their cooked meals are highly rated.

With some of the friendliest and most helpful staff you could ask for, I’d recommend staying at EcoScapes if you’re looking for plenty of luxury with some of the best views you could ask for.

Rooms here aren’t cheap, starting from $595 NZD per night, but if you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply want to enjoy a seamless stay with extra luxury, it’s one of the best. You can check availability and book online here on Booking.com.

Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand

Bailey stands in front of a right green JUCY campervan
JUCY is one of my favorite campervan rental companies (read below for a discount code!)
Bailey stands behind her Mad Campers campervan cooking in the kitchen at Piha Beach
I also really like Mad Campers!

Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!

You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:

  • Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
  • Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It’s what most budget travelers use for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping…and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime! My favorite campervan rental company is JUCY because they have a huge selection of campervans to choose from, plus multiple pick-up/drop-off locations. You can browse JUCY’s campervan selection online here. Alternatively, you can easily compare all campervans available in NZ on Motorhome Republic here.

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE: I’ve managed to snag a discount code for 5% off for my readers if you book your campervan or motorhome through JUCY or Star RV! Simply click here to select your JUCY campervan, or click here to select your Star RV motorhome, and then use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off – it’s that easy!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey poses for a photo at the edge of Lake Wakatipu near Glenorchy
Thanks for reading!

For any outdoor lover, Glenorchy is the ultimate playground. I make regular trips to Glenorchy to escape the hustle and bustle of Queenstown, and each time I get to experience more of this magical place where only those willing to explore by foot can go.

Thanks for reading my guide to the best hikes in Glenorchy. This is only one of many travel guides on My Queenstown Diary, so stay a while and browse around, everything you need is right here!

A couple of other blogs you will probably love include:

50 BEST Hikes in New Zealand My Personal Favorites

75 EPIC Things to do in Queenstown, NZ (2024 Guide!)

The BEST Time to Visit New Zealand – Weather & Activities