Queenstown – the adrenaline capital of New Zealand, known best as the place tourists go to throw themselves out of planes, feel the speed jetboating on Lake Wakitipu or bungee jumping from bridges. But all the adrenaline aside, Queenstown is one of the most astonishingly beautiful towns in the South Island of New Zealand. Sitting on Lake Wakitipu with the Southern Alps as it’s backdrop, almost every view of Queenstown is worthy of a postcard.
Luckily Queenstown’s beauty stretches throughout the Otago region of New Zealand, notable towns to visit being Dunedin and Wanaka, the latter often described as ‘the little Queenstown’ but you don’t need to go quite as far to witness even more stunning surroundings. Glenorchy is a settlement about a 45 minute drive from Queenstown and it was on my list of places to see ever since photo’s of it’s famous red boat shed appeared on my Instagram feed.
As I began to ask around, it became clear that Glenorchy wasn’t accessible by public transport, which – as a solo traveler without her own vehicle – almost threw a spanner in the works! But I soon discovered Altitude Tours and my plans to see Glenorchy were back in motion. Not only do Altitude make it possible for travellers to visit Glenorchy, they also go the extra mile and drive out to another town I hadn’t heard of before… Paradise. Yes, it is an actual place.
Since I wasn’t splurging on bungee jumps and skydives (read more on things to do in Queenstown if you’re NOT an adrenaline junkie) I figured I could run wild with my love for scenery, nature and snapping up as many photo opp’s as possible. And that’s exactly what this tour provides.
Another major selling point for Glenorchy and Paradise – besides being beautiful – is that they happen to feature filming locations for a little movie called… Lord of The Rings? So if you wanna get your geek on and see where some of the biggest scenes in the movie were shot, then Altitude provide several photo stops and some really detailed explanations on the production in these areas. Even if you’re not a fan of the movies, you can’t NOT be a fan of the views.
After short stops at Twelve Mile Delta and Bennetts Bluff, you’ll follow the Glenorchy-Queenstown Road – they don’t mess about with naming roads! After another 20-30 minutes, you’ll reach the extremely quaint town of Glenorchy, complete with it’s little red boat shed, tiny church and perhaps the world’s smallest library. There’s enough time here to ponder and take photo’s in town and on the wharf, before hopping back on board to head to Paradise.
On the way you’ll pass even more magical vistas with the promise of forests, fields, mountains and an abundance of sheep as your permanent backdrop. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to visit in Spring like I was you’ll have many an ‘awwwww’ moment as you pass heaps of new-born lambs!
Most of your time in Paradise will be spent soaking up the remote, natural beauty that surrounds. And it’s very likely you’ll be the only ones there, give or take some more farmyard friends of course. Take all the photos you like but take time to just stand and look around. It’s not every day you have a piece of nature and a space sought after by movie producers all to yourself.
While in Paradise, you’ll also be treated to a kiwi-style picnic lunch, prepared by your driver whilst you explore your surroundings. Once lunch is over, it’ll almost be time to say farewell to Paradise – not forgetting to stop off at the famous road sign for the all-important snaps! Enjoy the scenic road once more as you make your way back to Queenstown.
The tour is just over 4 hours long, which is a perfect amount of time to get away from the bustle of Queenstown and soak up the stunning New Zealand scenery. Altitude offer both morning and afternoon slots so if you’re short on time and looking to book other activities, you can choose the timeslot that works best for you and still have either your morning or afternoon free!
It can become overwhelming being in such an amazing place, with so much on offer activity-wise but if you want to do something a little unique, and perhaps more calm than crazy… definitely consider a drive out to Glenorchy with Altitude Tours. I’m no expert critic but travelling over the past year, I’ve been on my share of day trips and I really felt that Altitude delivered a tour with a difference.
From the moment our incredibly lovely driver Tania greeted us to the moment she safely returned us to Queenstown and waved us off, the professionalism, organisation and friendly nature of the tour was flawless. Still a relatively new business, Altitude go out of their way with small touches like the kiwi-inspired picnic lunch, the witty videos to give the driver a little break in their commentary on the drive, the warmth, comfort and luxury of the drive itself and to top it off, a surprise gift as a thank you at the end of the tour!
Altitude also offer Best of Queenstown tours, wine and craft beer tours and Milford Sound tours – check out their website for more info.