Day 5: Glenorchy

July 12, 2016

We’re getting good at waking up before sunrise. Today we started with a 7AM breakfast at Browns before driving to Glenorchy for some horseback riding. The road from Queenstown to Glenorchy runs along the coast of Lake Wakatipu’s northern branch and is, unsurprisingly, gorgeous.

Bienvinedo a Glenorchy!

Bienvinedo a Glenorchy!

We arrived in the small town of Glenorchy and found Dart Stables. After getting checked in and geared up, we took a short ride to a second stable location where we were matched with our horses. I got Bryan and Matt rode Bobby.

Jo and Bryan

Jo and Bryan


Matt and Bobby

Matt and Bobby

Our tour was aptly-named “River Wild” because our path followed the Dart River south from Mt. Alfred to the head of Lake Wakatipu. On our left, the Richardson Mountains, and on our right, the Humboldt Mountains — or if you prefer, Misty Mountains on both sides (according to LOTR filming).

Humboldt Mountains

Humboldt Mountains to the west


Training for the Rohirrim

Training for the Rohirrim

Fun fact: one of the horses (Trevor) in our tour group was Prince Caspian’s horse in the Prince Caspian Narnia movie (whichever one that was). And years ago, eight horses from Dart Stables appeared in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Very regal, these horses.

Crossing the Dart River

Crossing the Dart River


Mount Earnslaw in the distance

Mount Earnslaw in the distance

For parts of the trail, the guides gave us the green light to let the horses trot. Ironically, the only person who fell off was one of the guides. To be fair, her horse tripped and she executed a perfect tuck and roll. This commotion startled Bobby a bit, but Matt managed to hang on. As for Bryan, he did hold up the entire tour for a couple minutes demanding a drink of delicious glacial river water.

I AM THIRSTY!  Glacial river water is my demand.

I AM THIRSTY! Glacial river water is my list of demands.

Upon returning to the starting stables, we enjoyed tea and a handful of lollies (New Zealand gummy candy) before saying goodbye to our horse friends. Next up, we booked two tickets to Paradise! (aka. Town nearby LOTR filming locations for Isengard and Lothlórien)

Clouds looming over the Wizard's Vale

Clouds looming over the Wizard’s Vale


Lothlórien Forests of Mount Aspiring National Park

Lothlórien Forests of Mount Aspiring National Park

Ok, so we didn’t actually need tickets, but the 4-wheel drive rental helped. After leaving Glenorchy, the “no exit” road to Paradise enters the Mount Aspiring National Park forests (Lothlórien) and becomes a small dirt road with washout zones at the various river tributaries.

Finally, we met a washout zone crossing that looked legit.

Wizard's Vale River Crossing: July 12, 2016

Wizard’s Vale River Crossing: July 12, 2016


We chose to turn around and go thru the Mines of Moria

We chose to turn around and go thru the Mines of Moria

Rather than driving straight back to Queenstown, we made a few stops for a couple walks along the way. First, the Glenorchy general store. They had some cute local items, and lots of wool products (remember all the sheep?). I saw a necklace I liked, but when I found out they bought it online (rather than from a local artist), it lost its luster. Alas.

This sign seems redundant in Southern New Zealand

This sign seems redundant in Southern New Zealand


Southbound along Lake Wakatipu

Southbound along Lake Wakatipu

In our quest to find more Lord of the Rings filming locations, we also stopped at Bob’s Cove and Twelve-Mile Delta. Bob’s Cove technically didn’t have any filming locations, but it was pretty.

At Twelve-Mile Delta, they shot the Ithilien Camp scenes where Sam, Frodo and Gollum see the Haradrim/Oliphaunts and argue about cooking coneys. We googled the exact latitude and longitude of the filming locations from the LOTR guidebook, but they must have been for the production assistant’s trailer or something. As such, we didn’t find them, but we did find two French guys looking for the same thing. We’re not the only nerds in New Zealand! Also, we saw a couple rabbits, which seemed appropriate.

Where are you hiding!?!

Where are you hiding!?!

Resorting to visual cues, we walked around the area’s trails (and off some trails, too), in hopes of finding the spot. All said and done, we were solidly in the ballpark. Plus, we got a good little hike out of the deal, and saw some really cool rocks in the delta area.

Twelve-Mile Delta with the Remarkables across Lake Wakatipu

Twelve-Mile Delta with the Remarkables across Lake Wakatipu

Back in Queenstown, we found a little walk-up taco restaurant called Taco Medic where we picked up dinner and brought it back to our hotel (much like last night).

Forty CCs of tacos, stat!!!!

Forty CCs of tacos, stat!!!!

We’ve figured out how to cheat the system and get all the good food, but avoid the hustle and bustle of the city!

One Response to “Day 5: Glenorchy”

  1. Seriously love the blog, guys…and the SCENERY! So beautiful – what an amazing experience! Thanks for letting those of us stuck back here in 90+ humidity tag along. 🙂

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