Old Jetty on Lake Wakatipu

We decided to drive around Lake Wakatipu today to the small town of Glenorchy, and then see how we go heading up to Paradise. Paradise is where some of the scenes for Lord of the Rings (LOTR) was filmed that neither of us had seen. Some of the scenes in the woods of Fellowship of the Ring.

The road out to Glenorchy, runs around the edge of the lake for most of the way, which means even more beautiful scenes of the lake and the mountains behind. We stopped a few times so that I could make some images, with some of the stops being right out on the edge of a small road, with a couple of hundred feet drop down to the lake.

Ducks and Lake Wakatipu

Lake Wakatipu is a freshwater lake and very clean and clear. Its surface is over 1000 feet above sea level but it is so deep that its bottom is actually below sea level. The lake is very unusual in that it has tides, only small ones, but not related to the moon as ocean tides are. Maori legend says that the tides are created by the heart of a dead giant that still beats. The water is very cold ,even though its still warm in Queenstown, but this certainly doesn’t bother the ducks that seem to be in every little bay the lake has.

Road to Glenorchy

We arrived in Glenorchy and found the road out to Paradise. The road is dirt, and I had heard that it has several fords, which given the low rainfall that the South Island has had, are easily crossable by a regular car. So we set off, knowing that we could turn around if the fords or road looked to difficult.

The road certainly was in good condition for a dirt road, but had the usual corrugations along the way, so we had to take some stages fairly slow. Also the driver got our front wheel drive car in to a little fishtail wobble on loose gravel, which was fun (well not really). We did have to cross several fords, but all were only ankle deep and rocky, with no mud at all. I got out and took a walk through each of them to make sure we had no large rocks to punch a hole in the sump, and find the best path across. None of them was more than 2m across.

Road to Paradise

When we finally reached the end of the road, I think we were both a little disappointed, but it has been a very dry summer for NZ, so it was a bit dry looking. We did however see the landscape that was used for LOTR movies, and we had seen the forrest that they would have used as well. We weren’t looking for exact scenes from the movie.


At the end of the road was some hiking trails, and a few cars from people on a hike, as no one else was about. It didn’t take long however for a horde of people in one car to turn up. A few hikers came out of the wilderness, some of whom started the trek home along the road we came in.

On the trip back we passed a few cars heading our to Paradise. Most of them driving 4WD of different varieties, and none o them knowing how to pull over to the edge to pass other cars. In all cases we (in the regular old car) had to pull over in to the grass to get around the idiot in the 4WD who needed to make sure they had all four wheels well and truly on the gravel road. We did also pass a camper van on its way out as well.

On the return from Glenorchy we stopped at a few places we missed on the way out to take make some images, and returned to Queenstown. We finally got back around 2:30pm, and not having any lunch we decided to stop for a coffee. We picked a Patagonias and made the mistake of ordering some ‘food’ as well as the coffee. Patagonia is basically as sweets shop, chocolates and ice creams. It was very nice and much larger than we had expected, so we had a very bad, but very tasty, meal for lunch.

We plan to go out for dinner tonight to a nice restaurant, so we will have to walk off some of that desert we had for lunch. It is getting pretty windy outside though, so it may be a car trip.