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    Glenorchy, Queenstown's Best Kept Secret
    Dorothy - 9/6/00

    This place must be high on your priorities when you plan your next visit to Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown.

    You may wish to read related articles The Queenstown-Glenorchy Road and Glenorchy Race Meeting - A very different side of Glenorchy

    More than a gateway, a gem in itself
    Glenorchy is a familiar name to trampers as it is the gateway to the Routeburn Track and the Rees and Dart Tracks, but it is much more than a gateway. It is a fascinating destination in itself.

    Glenorchy people
    The people who live in Glenorchy are famed for their friendliness. Glenorchy was voted the most friendly destination in 1996 and 1998 by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine, New York. On our visit we talked to local people involved in two businesses.

    Thor and Corrine Davis at Made in Glenorchy Fur Products
    Thor and Corrine have lived in Glenorchy for ten years. At first Thor was involved in hunting and selling dried possum skins, and then he made a garment for himself. It was such a success that it was the beginning of a new development putting to good use the skins of animals which are threatening the existence of our native forests. He and Corrine have been operating the business since 1997, first from home and then from premises in the township.

    Thor's view is, "The only good possum is the one you are wearing. "

    Thor and Corrine model some of the fur garments.
    Thor and Corrine model some of the fur garments.

    With access on foot to the Caples, Dart and Rees track areas he still does a lot of hunting, but buys skins to supplement his catch of 2000 skins per year. He dries the skins and sends some 7000 skins to fur dressers and dyers in Dunedin. When they come back he separates them into their different colours. The natural colours of the skins are dark brown, red brown, silver grey, pale grey and red grey. Some are bleached.

    The next process is to cut sew, measure, spray and stretch the skin for the garments. The sewing is done on a fur sewing machine in the workroom and customers are welcome to watch the work in progress.

    The products are varied. Furs have traditionally been used for insulation and this accounts for the warmth of Thor's garments. The fur hats are either in the Russian style with ear flaps or a beanie shape. Boot liners for use with gum boots are very popular as the fur draws the moisture away from the feet. They can also be worn without the boots as slippers. Vests are fur-lined with fur-lined pockets, and may either feature a fur collar or have no fur showing. These vests have been very popular with the members of the Vertical Limit film crew. Fur bedspreads are also for sale - ornamental and very warm. Shaving the skin leads to a velvet effect, and shaved skins are sometimes used to line garments.

    Other products for sale are carved deer antlers and maps of the area drawn on skin.

    Mt Earnslaw Motel
    This enterprising couple has now opened motels in Glenorchy. There are seven studio and two one-bedroom units, all with kitchen and TV. For contact details see below under Accommodation.

    Eileen Todd at Glen Roydon Lodge
    Eileen was behind the counter when we ordered our excellent fish lunch at the restaurant at Glen Roydon Lodge. Although she is the managing director of the complex she is happy to be involved in all aspects of the business. She told us her story. She is a people person deeply interested in the hospitality industry.

    A true family business
    Eileen has five children and all have at times contributed to the success of the business. Ian, the eldest, lives in Arrowtown and he and another son, Jim, did a lot of the stone work on the buildings and will also be working on the extension. Alan, the chef, has been a part of the operation since it was a shop. When they added a cafe he took over the chef's role, and younger brother Johnny took over the shop, with his little sister Ngaire.

    As the place developed Johnny and Ngaire helped in all aspects of management and Johnny became a very successful fishing guide for the lodge. Ngaire and Johnny are not in the business at present, but Alan's partner Janet has worked there for five years in all aspects of the business. As Julie, Jim's wife, puts it, "We all have seven children between us, so mostly for the women we fit in where we can when we can. It is a family orientated business and Eileen is the main cog in the wheel. She keeps everything running smoothly."

    Eileen was involved in the hotel business in Queenstown for thirty years, and then moved to Glenorchy twelve years ago. Although some people told her it was an unwise move she believed that there was a good future for a fishing lodge in this beautiful place, especially once the road was sealed. She bought the old Glenorchy store and had it extended with the old building in the middle. Sadly after four years a wiring fault caused a fire which destroyed the whole complex, so eight years ago this indomitable woman had the whole place rebuilt.

    Glen Roydon restaurant <br>with the lodge to the left
    Glen Roydon restaurant with the lodge to the left

    The present complex features a restaurant and a lodge with eight beautifully equipped bedrooms with private facilities. There are also meeting facilities.

    Work is just starting on extensions to the restaurant now and by the spring there will be an art shop, and new foyer and office. The restaurant will hold up to about 160 people which will be ideal for conferences, weddings and the like. The garden bar seating will be extended and landscaped with stone work features, a barbeque area and coloured tussocks.

    Guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch, a la carte food or bar food. There are booking services for local trips or a fishing guide.
    For contact details see below under Accommodation.

    Eileen enjoys the visitors to the Lodge, welcoming tourists from round the world, business people holding staff training sessions, or people working in the area like film crews for Vertical Limit and construction crews for Lord of the Rings.

    For information on activities in the area talk to any of the friendly locals or visit the Department of Conservation (DOC).

    The helpful staff at DOC will advise you on tracks suited to your fitness level and the time you have available. They can also give you up to date information about the avalanche danger, snow and river levels. The well-known tracks that start from Glenorchy include the Routeburn, Greenstone, Caples, Rees and Dart tracks. The office is open 9 am-4pm, Monday to Friday.

    Local walks
    One easy way to gain an appreciation of the immediate area around Glenorchy is to follow the signposted Glenorchy Walkway around the outskirts of the town. Board walks take you across the lagoon which on a calm day mirrors the mountains beyond.

    Mountains mirrored in the lagoon close to the township
    Mountains mirrored in the lagoon close to the township
    Click here for a larger version

    Glenorchy is an artist's paradise. Bill Moore keeps returning to paint in this area.

    One of Bill Moore's Glenorchy paintings - Miners Cottage
    One of Bill Moore's Glenorchy paintings "Miners Cottage"

    Horse riding
    Where better to try horse riding than this incomparably beautiful area?
    Contact Dart Stables - Ph (03) 442 5688 or 0800 4 RIDING
    or visit

    Or High Country Horses (03) 442 9915
    Short or long rides are available.

    Float down a wilderness river in an inflatable canoe.
    Phone (03) 442 7374
    or visit

    Jet boating
    Phone Dart River Jet Safari (03) 442 9992
    or visit

    Heliski in the mountains around Glenorchy.
    Contact Southern Lakes Heliski Ph (03) 442 6222

    Or Invincible Snowfields, way off the beaten track.
    Phone (03) 442 9920

    Where to have a meal or stay the night
    Campers and backpackers can stay at Glenorchy Holiday Park and Backpackers - Ph (03) 442 7171, Fax (03) 442 7172
    Backpackers can also stay at the Glenorchy Backpackers Retreat
    Phone (03) 442 9902
    or in the trampers' section of the Glenorchy Hotel, provided they have a sleeping bag.

    The Glenorchy Hotel describes itself as 'a classic Kiwi hotel' and offers rooms with ensuites or shared facilities. It has a bar, cafe/restaurant, terrace, observation deck and garden bar.
    Phone (03) 442 9902
    Fax (03) 442 9912
    Reservations Freephone 0800 453 667

    Mt Earnslaw Motel described above
    Phone (03) 422 6993 Fax (03) 442 7776

    Glen Roydon Lodge Hotel described above.
    Phone (03) 442 9968 Fax (03) 442 9969
    Freephone 0800 GLEN ROYDON (453 676)

    Blanket Bay Lodge
    Described as 'a magical haven of peace and solitude', the lodge offers luxury at its best with a 30ft high Great Room with log fireplace, vaulted wharf beams and antique floor. The main lodge has four lodge rooms and three lodge suites, and an additional six chalet suites adjacent.
    Rooms start at NZ$1090.
    Contact Philip Jenkins Ph (03) 442 9442 Fax (03) 442 9441

    Glenorchy Cafe
    Go there for good baking, eat there or buy lunch for tramping. Try their rye bread and homemade jams.

    Make your booking now.
    You've a wide choice of places to stay and to eat, so make your booking now and enjoy the activities and the magnificent scenery of the area.

    Farmland around the town with a high mountain backdrop
    Farmland around the town with a high mountain backdrop
    Click here for a larger version

    Published with permission from NZine