5 Incredible Mountain Destinations To Drive To Near Queenstown, NZ

Queenstown may be one of the most beautiful towns on the entire planet. On the shores of Lake Wakatipu, it is flanked by a range of rugged, snowy mountains, and is a study in startling contrasts. The deep, inviting, refreshing blue of the lake set against the stark, desolate beauty of the mountain slopes dazzles the senses and ignites the soul.

Indeed, the Queenstown region is famous for its mountains. Quite a few TV shows and films have been shot in the area, most prominently The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Ready to embark on your own real-life Middle Earth adventure? Here are 5 incredible mountainous destinations to explore in your campervan or motorhome.

 

1. Glenorchy

First of all, let’s talk about how you can actually visit Middle Earth for real! From Queenstown, drive up along Lake Wakatipu until you reach its northernmost point. Here you will find yourself in Glenorchy, and it will probably look pretty familiar.

If you can’t quite pin down which film location you’re in, that is probably because Glenorchy was used for not one, but three, different regions of Middle Earth. These include Isengard, Amon Hen and Lothlórien. For any fan of the film franchise, a trip to Glenorchy is a dream come true—and probably enough to provide days of fun and adventure near Queenstown.

 

Glenorchy

 

2. Fiordland National Park

If you can bring yourself to part with the mythic grandeur of Isengard, you can journey next to Fiordland National Park. It will take you a few hours to get there, but that is what your campervan or motorhome is for.

Fiordland takes its name from the fourteen fiords which line the coastline, including the famous Milford Sound. Wildlife lovers also will want to swing by Doubtful Sound to watch dolphins and other marine animals at play. Also be sure to look for the “Dead Marshes” from The Lord of the Rings, located in this park as well.

Whether you are into boating or hiking or you want to behold the legendary Te Anau Glowworm Caves, you will find many magical experiences waiting for you in Fiordland!

 

Fiordland National Park

 

3. Mount Aspiring National Park

A shorter drive to the north, you will find Mount Aspiring National Park. The high, cold, desolate beauty of these austere peaks is like nothing else on Earth. Spanning 355,543 hectares, it is the third largest national park in the country, and is part of the Te Wahipounamu – Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area.

Here you can see three of the largest glaciers in the area. You can also visit Isengard (mentioned previously in the section on Glenorchy, which is just south of the park). Also look out for around 59 species of bird and more than 400 butterfly and moth species. Go walking or hiking, skiing, hunting, fishing or rock-climbing. Consider camping overnight as well—there is no other experience like it!

 

Mount Aspiring National Park

 

4. Double Cone and The Remarkables

Quite close to Queenstown is Double Cone. This is the highest peak in The Remarkables, which is the majestic wall of mountains you can see from Queenstown itself. Measuring 2,319 metres high, Double Cone is quite the impressive summit. Be sure to visit The Remarkables during wintertime so that you can go skiing or snowboarding.

 

The Remarkables

 

5. Mount Bonpland

Just northwest of Glenorchy and just south of Mount Aspiring National Park, you will find Mount Bonpland. This is high, desolate, majestic country. Enjoy the splendor of Mount Bonpland from below, or take one of the four climbing routes to the top for a view that will steal your breath away.

 

Mount Bonpland

 

Once you have beheld the rugged peaks of the Queenstown region, you will find you have fallen in love with some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet. And like Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings, you too will find yourself longing to return to see those majestic peaks again.