View up the Earnslaw Burn Track

Image: Greg Lind | DOC

Introduction

Glenorchy, at the head of Lake Wakatipu, is the gateway to some of New Zealand’s best-known, multi-day tracks. There are also good one-day tracks, with many shorter walks nearby.

Place overview

Activities

  • Camping
  • Hunting
  • Walking and tramping

Find things to do and places to stay Glenorchy area

About this place

Nature and conservation

The Glenorchy area has diverse and stunning landscapes.

Glaciers sculpted this mountainous landscape until ice melt started filling Lake Wakatipu some 15,000 years ago. Tectonic uplift and weathering still shape the schist ranges, where it’s not covered by tussock, beech forest or sub alpineshrubs.

History and culture

Māori first visited the head of the lake in search of pounamu (greenstone) and the extinct, flightless moa. These family groups or hapu, mainly from around Foveaux Strait, left evidence of about 30 summer campsites.

Runholder William Rees and his family were first to settle here in 1860, but two years later the lure of gold brought many more. the head of the lake first attraction was its resources – from gold to scheelite, grazing land to timber – but tourism soon followed.

Commercial mountain guiding began in 1882, on Mt Earnslaw/Pikirakatahi, and within seven years six hotels and guesthouses had been established at the head of the lake.

Tourists relied on boats and pack tracks until the Glenorchy Road opened in 1962. Two years later, Mount Aspiring National Park was formed. By 1990 the park had almost doubled in size and had become part of the Te Wahi Pounamu - South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. This recognises the region’s significance to global landscape conservation.

Know before you go

Mountain bikes are not allowed on any of these walks. 

Dogs are allowed in the Glenorchy Foreshore Conservation Area and Glenorchy Lagoon Wildlife Reserve, but must be on a lead.

Hunting is allowed in some valleys, with a permit from DOC.

Contacts

Whakatipu-wai-Māori / Queenstown Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 442 7935
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   queenstownvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   50 Stanley Street
Queenstown
9300
Postal Address:   PO Box 811
Queenstown 9348
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