Our third day in Queenstown (yes, I’m starting with the third day) was my favourite. James took the car and we headed north towards Glenorchy, a frontier town with a reputation as ridiculously far-reaching as Hollywood. I could hardly believe the immense beauty that surrounded us all throughout our journey and we honestly could not have asked for better weather! Glenorchy itself was only about an hour’s drive away, but we stopped every few minutes to give our cameras a good run in the cold.
We came across glacial streams that shimmered in the sun and flowed straight into Lake Wakatipu, spotted gushing waterfalls along the sides of the road, picked out Pig and Pigeon Islands in the distance, and of course, marvelled at all the snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Glenorchy was pretty much what I expected – a quiet, rustic town with a tiny population (about 200 people). Not the most exciting of places, but definitely out-of-this-world pretty. I can see why the surrounding landscapes were chosen to be featured in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy (for scenes that involved Isengard, Lothlórien, Ithilien and Amon Hen, among others). Other big-budget movies like X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian were also filmed nearby.
Despite the stinging cold (and I was wearing three layers, not counting my coat, mind you), we stopped by the lakeside to admire everything from the viewpoint of the jetty. Here, Lake Wakatipu turns into the Dart River. Here, a smart little red shed sits by the shore, the words GLENORCHY emblazoned across it. Here, we observed a large dog relentlessly harass visitors into playing fetch with him (his face actually visibly fell when someone threw a stick into the frigid waters of the lake and expected him to go get it).
After taking a few hundred photos, we popped into a local café for a light lunch before heading back to Queenstown. I had an excellent slice of white chocolate & cherry cheesecake paired with a pot of the best earl grey tea I have ever tasted. James settled for a warm satay pie and some hot chocolate. There was a sleepy-looking cat prowling around, looking for scraps and trying in vain to avoid contact with grabby customers.