Paradise is literally 65km and a little over an hours drive from Queenstown. From the township of Glenorchy at the head of Lake Wakatipu turn right (there’s one road in and the same road out) and travel a further 20km following the signs, 8 km is sealed road with the last 12 km being unsealed. Rolling farmland changes to beech forest as you enter the Mt Aspiring National Park and drive past Diamond Lake.
How do you spell Paradise? goes the joke….well if we were overseas we would always answer N.E.W Z.E.A.L.A.N.D, nowadays we spell it Q.U.E.E.N.S.T.O.W.N. No one is quite sure how Paradise achieved it’s name however some say it was named after the Paradise Duck which resides in the area.
Glenorchy is a settlement where there are several pubs, café’s and small shops catering mainly to tourists but also to the small resident population. On the outskirts there is also a grassed airstrip. It is a popular tourist spot, close to many tramping tracks. It lies near the borders of Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park. The Routeburn Track, one of the New Zealand Great Walks can be accessed by passing through Glenorchy with the trail-head being around another 20 minutes drive.Lesser known tracks such as the Greenstone, Caples, Rees and Dart Tracks can also be accessed. Information on all these walks can be found at the Queenstown and Glenorchy Department of Conservation offices.
We found ourselves in Glenorchy the other weekend where for something different we headed around to Kinloch. Equal to Paradise in beauty, Kinloch is an ideal setting to get away from it all. 26 km from Glenorchy by road, or 1.7 km across the lake by water taxi from Glenorchy, a trip to Kinloch is a fisherman’s heaven with Trout and Salmon hanging in the bay waiting for their food to wash out the mouth of the Dart. A tiny settlement the main commercial part consists of Kinloch Lodge which offers accommodation, food and serenity. A D.O.C camping ground on the opposite side of the lodge offers tent sites to those who prefer the more rustic and traditional lodgings. http://www.kinlochlodge.co.nz/
Although the day was slightly overcast and windy we enjoyed a leisurely lunch from the porch of the lodge that sheltered us from the elements. Afterwards we took a walk along the lakes edge (with Striker) and marveled at how disengaged the area is when compared to the hustle and bustle of Queenstown. A few hours later we returned to Glenorchy (or GY as some locals call it) to pick up KK who had been at a friends birthday.
There are plenty of day or overnight walks in the area (some even allow mountainbiking) that offer options to those with varying degrees of fitness. Here are a few of the more popular ones….
Glenorchy Lagoon Walkway, 1 hour loop track
From the Glenorchy waterfront this gentle, well formed track follows the flood bank around the Rees River and Lagoon Creek and back through the Glenorchy Golf Cource.
Double Barrel Creek, 30 minutes one way
This easy short walk from the Routeburn Shelter will take you through a tall red beach forest overlooking Sugarloaf Pass, the cirqued rock face of Momus, and Bridal Veil Falls cascading from the hanging valley.
Lake Sylvan Track, 40 mins to Lake Sylvan
Situated left before the Routeburn Shelter Hut this well-defined gentle track leads through an old moraine river terraces and giant red beech trees to Lake Sylvan. This Lake is an excellent fishing spot with brown trout and numerous small native fish.
Invincible Mine, 3 hours return
From the Rees Road this well formed historic walking track is for people with moderate fitness and abilities. Part of the Otago Goldfields Park, the walk gradually works its way up giving you wonderful views of the Rees Valley and Mt Earnslaw. Remains of the water wheel and a unique set of seven berdans – large, revolving cast iron bowls in which the ore was ground – are also visible. Miners built the track in the early 1880s.
Routeburn Day Walk 6 hours return (or walk as far or as little as you wish)
From the Routeburn Shelter Hut, take this popular day walk up to Routeburn Flats Hut, or if you feel you would like more of a challenge then the extra 3 km onwards to the Routeburn Falls waterfall is well worth a visit.
The wider Glenorchy area is a must for those who want to immerse themselves in some of New Zealand’s best scenery on offer whilst it is a sought after location for the film industry with it being used for high profile movies such as The Chronicles of Narnia, X Men Origins: Wolverine and the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies.
It’s a place that we haven’t spent enough time but plan to do so in the future as we look to do a few more overnight trips to really enjoy this part of the country (world) that we are fortunate to live close by. The only inside advice we could really offer is to make sure you take enough repellent for the sand-flies that also live in Paradise!