New Zealand | Glenorchy & Queenstown


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new zealand, south island, glenorchy, queenstown, freedom camping, campervan, wilderness campervan, breeze 2Lake Tekapo was our second-favorite part of our New Zealand campervan adventure, but Glenorchy was hands-down the highlight of our entire R&R to Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. We loved it so much, we changed our original plans so we could stay an extra night.new zealand, south island, glenorchy, queenstown, freedom camping, campervan, wilderness campervan, breeze 2After our night in Lake Tekapo, two nights in Glenorchy made three nights of freedom camping in a row. We were pretty conservative with our electricity, propane gas and water usage, so it wasn’t a problem.What makes Glenorchy so special? There wasn’t an awesome hike like there was at Lake Tekapo. In fact, there wasn’t much to do but sit and enjoy the view. But it’s not exactly a view you’d get tired of.new zealand, south island, glenorchy, queenstown, freedom camping, campervan, wilderness campervan, breeze 2We spent quite a few hours sitting outside our campervan, reading and just … staring at the water and the gorgeous mountains in the background. (OK, and we had some wine and cheese as well.) It wasn’t exactly warm outside but we were determined to enjoy the camping table and chairs that were included in our cadillac insurance package!new zealand, south island, glenorchy, queenstown, freedom camping, campervan, wilderness campervan, breeze 2Sunrise.The other great thing about Glenorchy is that it’s about a 30-minute drive from Queenstown, by winter a ski resort town and by summer the hub of all of New Zealand’s extreme adventure sports (i.e. bungee jumping). There’s also great cafes, restaurants (Fergburger is a local legend) and shopping.new zealand, south island, glenorchy, queenstown, freedom camping, campervan, wilderness campervan, breeze 2Midday.We arrived to our freedom camping spot — on the lakeshore just a few feet from the water — in mid-afternoon, so we still had a couple hours of daylight left to enjoy the scenery. After setting up our table and chairs and opening up a bottle of Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc, we almost immediately decided to stay an extra night. It would mean pushing back our arrival to Milford Sound by a day and cutting out a visit to the Catlins National Park at the southern tip of the South Island, but after constantly being on the road it was nice to just settle in.new zealand, south island, glenorchy, queenstown, freedom camping, campervan, wilderness campervan, breeze 2Brrr.We snacked on cheese and then I made us lamb sausage with sautéed veggies for dinner. There was one other campervan in the area during the afternoon, and another one arrived after dark, but it was a really peaceful, relaxed atmosphere.Staying an extra day also gave us time to explore Queenstown. After breakfast the next morning we set off for town. I should add that the 46-kilometer drive from Glenorchy to Queenstown is itself listed as a must-see attraction in the NZ Frenzy guidebook: “The beauties on this drive have few rivals. Expect gorgeous mountain scenery framing the blue-blue island-studded Lake Wakatipu every turn in the road. ‘Gateway to Paradise’ is an apt moniker for Glenorchy … no exaggeration there!”new zealand, south island, glenorchy, queenstown, freedom camping, campervan, wilderness campervan, breeze 2Situated along the drive, there are pull-offs to scenic lookout points. It’s a breathtaking view that we got to enjoy four times.In Queenstown we parked on the outskirts of town (plenty of parallel parking space for our large campervan) and walked along the main drag to the central area with cafes and shops. We enjoyed coffees and internet access at Patagonia Chocolates before spending the rest of the morning souvenir- and gift-shopping. It might be low season in the rest of the country, but Queenstown was pretty crowded with skiers and snowboarders, among other tourists.new zealand, south island, glenorchy, queenstown, freedom camping, campervan, wilderness campervan, breeze 2After lunch at Fergburger we made the scenic drive back to our freedom camping spot, where we had the place to ourselves. We arrived earlier in the afternoon so we had a few hours of daylight to explore the area with a nice lakeside walk and enjoy the scenery. We had beef tacos and salad for dinner, read a little bit and then we went to bed.http://www.fergburger.com/Sunset.Very early in the morning — before dawn — we were awoken by a “popping” sound followed by gushing water. Alarmed, Kail went outside to see what happened. It appeared we were leaking our entire freshwater supply. Good thing we were ready to hit the road and planning to spend that night at a holiday park.new zealand, south island, glenorchy, queenstown, freedom camping, campervan, wilderness campervan, breeze 2We theorized that our water container had frozen in the night and burst (yes, it was that cold). It was still too early to get Wilderness customer support on the phone, so we set off on the road toward Milford Sound via Te Anau. Eventually I was able to reach someone at Wilderness, and they explained that the vans come with a safety feature that will automatically release the freshwater supply to prevent it from freezing and bursting. I was able to reset the trigger and we were set to refill our water at our next stop.We were fortunate in this case but our luck, weather-wise, was about to run out. More details in a future post. What’s your favorite drive?The Details: Glenorchy Freedom CampingGPS Coordinates: -44.856339, 168.381901Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/tAZpBThe Details: Glenorchy DriveGPS Coordinates: -45.068724, 168.463560Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/p4rRWDrive: 46-kilometer paved (slightly winding) from Queenstown to GlenorchySee more photos from New Zealand’s South Island.

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

6 thoughts on “New Zealand | Glenorchy & Queenstown

  1. That is so beautiful. I can see why you stayed an extra day. Your blog posts have got my husband and I thinking about taking a two month trip to explore Australia and New Zealand. If I’m going to fly that far, I need some serious time on the ground. The view reminds me of the Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming. I would say that is one of my very favorite drives.

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    1. You should do it! Especially if you have the luxury of taking a two-month vacation. :)I really can’t stress how great and easy it was to rent a campervan and see New Zealand that way. If you have more specific questions I am happy to answer them — just shoot me an email!

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      1. I will definitely keep that in mind. I think we would probably plan it out, save up, and travel about a year from now. How was it being there during their winter?

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      2. There are pluses and minuses to traveling during winter: It’s low season, so things are less expensive and not as crowded. But it’s cold and the weather can affect your plans (closed roads due to snow, etc.). As long as you are flexible and don’t mind being a little chilly while hiking, it’s fun!

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