Although Glenorchy is only 45 minutes’ north of Queenstown, it feels like a world away. This pleasant, quiet town of only 400 permanent residents is at the North end of Lake Wakatipu. Glenorchy is perfectly situated for a wealth of outdoor activities, especially hiking, with easy access to many trails, including the 32Km celebrated Routeburn Trail — considered one of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’.
Besides hiking, some of the activities offered in this area are jetboat rides on the Dart River, sky diving, horseback riding, ziplines, and kayaking on the lake. The scenery is magnificent, with mountains on all sides and the azure and clear waters of Lake Wakatipu in front of you. If the setting looks familiar, it’s because the area has been used in films, including “The Fellowship of the Ring” in the popular “Lord of the Rings” series.
Where to stay: Blanket Bay Lodge
One of New Zealand’s top lodges, Blanket Bay opened 20 years ago and has been earning accolades and awards ever since. The lodge is a member of Small Luxury Hotels, Luxury Lodges of NZ, and Signature’s Hotel & Resort Collection.
Blanket Bay, is, without a doubt, one of THE best places to stay in NZ. If you are going to splurge on a luxury lodge stay, this should be one of your top choices.
The lodge is situated on a private, 60-acre, estate, on the shore of Lake Wakatipu. The main building is made of local stone and reclaimed timber, and has a relaxed, comfortable, elegant feel to it. You feel immediately at home the minute you walk in. The central lodge has high ceilings, fireplaces, and a series of public spaces, including a cozy bar, living room, and terraces, all with fantastic views of the lake and mountains. About 50% of the clientele is from the USA.
Accommodations: The main lodge has 9 spacious guestrooms and 3 suites. Nearby are 4 stand-alone large chalet suites. For travelers seeking more space or families/friends traveling together, stay at either the 4-bedroom villa (done in a slightly more modern style), or in the owner’s villa (in a classic lodge decor), offering two bedrooms in the main homestead with two extra bedrooms in a building next to it (but not connected, for added privacy). Villas and chalets are just a short walk from the main lodge. All rooms and villas have terraces with views of the mountains and the lake.
Lodge features: Guests have access to a gym, spa, jacuzzi, steam room, therapy suites, as well as an outdoor heated pool. The lodge also has a pier, which you can use to launch your kayak. Don’t swim in the lake, as the water is freezing!
Rates include: Dinner and breakfast daily, pre-dinner cocktails, use of all sports facilities on the property. Low season rates start at around US$760 for two guests + 15% NZ tax.
Highlights: The setting, views, dining, facilities, and accommodations are all outstanding. Warm, intuitive, and genuine service is delivered by a team of 50 professionals. The lodge’s helipad makes it easy to go on adventures from the front lawn, without having to drive to Queenstown airport. The hotel’s management goes out of their way to exceed guest expectations. It truly is a privilege to stay at Blanket Bay. Guests are among the lucky few to stay in this vast estate on lake Wakatipu, between two mountain ranges.
Tips & Advice:
- Stay at least 2, preferably 3 nights, to enjoy all the property has to offer.
- Book way ahead, as the lodge is one of the most sought-after places to stay in New Zealand, and has a loyal following.
- Book your helicopter flights the day you arrive or right after, due to unpredictable weather. In case you must change your plans, you have a day or so to work with. If you leave the helicopter until the end, you might miss it altogether in case of rain/cloud cover. Having a helipad on the property is a real plus, as the flight to Milford Sound takes only 30 minutes from here.
Bottom line: Blanket Bay is one of the finest lodges in the South Pacific and a high point on any New Zealand itinerary.
Courtesy of Ignacio Maza from Signature Travel Network
Look for New Zealand: Part 4 – Marlborough Sounds and Kaikoura (South Island)