When I was in Fox Glacier, I had to decide whether I was going to go to Glenorchy or not. After doing some research on the accommodation available in the area and checking out the prices, I made a decision to go for it and spend three days in Kinloch Lodge, at the tip of Lake Wakatipu, twenty five minutes drive from Glenorchy.
Queenstown Info and Track shop organise shuttle buses from Queenstown to the start of the Routeburn track, a short distance from Glenorchy. I had arranged for someone from Kinloch Lodge to pick me up at 2pm at the Trading Post shop in Glenorchy. There was a Kinloch Lodge van parked outside and I asked this guy who was putting stuff into the van, if he was picking me up to go to Kinloch and he said he was. He had to wait for one other person that he had to pick up and then would take us both up to the lodge.
Daniel, who picked us up in the van, was German and has been working in Australia and New Zealand for the past few months. He was a nice guy and it was good to talk to him. The weather was glorious and it looked like it was going to stay like this for a few days. Kinloch Lodge is a wonderfully remote spot that sits at the top of Lake Wakatipu. Remote as it may be, it’s still very accessible to many of the walks in the area including the Routeburn and Greenstone Tracks. There are plenty of activities such as jet boating, kayaking and horse trekking to keep you busy.
I just wanted to chill out and soak up the views. Kinloch offers good YHA backpacker’s accommodation, with excellent facilities, but also has lodge-style rooms, some including dinner and bed & breakfast in the price. I got a lodge style room and it was so cosy, with extra warm blankets and hot water bottles to take the chill off your bones at night. I was like a grain of sand in the desert, the bed was so big!
The first night I was there, I sat on the wooden jetty and watched the sun go down behind the mountains. I also love to see the stars in places like this, my favourite being the Milky Way and the Southern Cross. So with it being a clear day, I went back to the jetty after dark to do some stargazing. The sky was a very deep blue and the stars had this lovely hazy veil over them. It was magical. The half moon’s light shone bright on the water and the dark shapes of the mountains were just about visible on the other side of the lake. A few orange lights across the water and the lights of the lodge behind me, were the only things that reminded me that I wasn’t the only being on the planet.
At breakfast the following morning, I got talking to this Chinese woman called Jenny. She was here on holiday with her daughter and husband for a week or so. I was telling her that I had to be in Glenorchy at 10.30am, two days later, to pick up the shuttle bus back to Queenstown. She said that if I couldn’t find any way of getting there, they would leave Kinloch a little earlier than planned and drive me to Glenorchy, which was really good of her.
The following day, I did the Kinloch Scenic Walk around the shores of Lake Wakatipu, which took me two hours. After spending a few hours reading/writing, my tummy was rumbling and decided I’d try the 3-course dinner that Kinloch offer, for a price of 45$. I’d heard the food here was very good but dinner needed to be booked a short while in advance. Well it was absolutely divine! The starter was a cupful of Thai pumpkin soup, with lettuce leaves doused in a flavoured oil and rock salt, with a lovely piece of warm bread, generously sprinkled with garlic olive oil. The main course was chicken on a bed of mushroom risotto, green beans and cherry plum sauce. That was delicious too. The chicken was lovely and moist, still with its skin on and it was a good combination with the risotto. Desert was a warm cherry tart with cream. I really enjoyed it.
The morning I was leaving, I opened the door to this breathtaking view. I nearly had to sit down again! The sun was beaming down over the shoulders of the mountains and there was a heavy mist rising from the lake. The wind was rising the mist and moving it in swirls towards the front of the lake and to top it off, there was a fine drizzle which caught the sunlight in places, creating rainbows here and there. Stunning scenery wasn’t the word for it. I was in seventh heaven!
I got a lift with Jenny and her husband to Glenorchy and the view on the way back was stunning. Ahead of us, three snow covered mountains were visible, just about, through the haze. Then the view clouded over to impenetrable fog but only to the north of us. To our right, the stunning views of the mountains, draped in brown and green, with wisps of mist at their feet was fantastic. And of course, the sun was still shining, casting a golden glow over everything. My heart just melted. No wonder Peter Jackson used this area for the film Lord of The Rings. I will never tire of seeing this glorious scenery.