Fog in Glenorchy and snow on Queenstown Hill New Zealand

Written on Saturday, 26 June 2010 by NZTravelInsider

Morning frost, fog, snow, and subzero temperatures. That’s winter in Queenstown and Glenorchy on the South Island of New Zealand at its best. Read about my adventures of the day.

Today I decided to take things easy, largely because I caught a bug on my first or second day of being in Queenstown and my throat has been killing me since then, so I could use some extra rest.

I woke up at 7 a.m. and at 8:15 a.m. I got ready to leave. What I haven’t mentioned earlier is that every single day I’ve been here in Queenstown, I’ve had to scrape ice off the car in the morning, which generally takes me 10-15 minutes to do.

So I was able to start driving at 8:25 a.m., which was around the time the sun started hitting the mountain peaks in Queenstown. The sun rises after 8 a.m. and sets around 5 p.m. these days in Queenstown, so the days are pretty short.

Glenorchy was on the agenda today. While I was planning on recording the drive to be added to the scenic drives section on New Zealand Travel Insider, it was way too foggy to call this drive “scenic”. Update (11 Nov 2010): I did the Queenstown to Glenorchy drive in spring and finally managed to record it on a beautiful sunny day.

So I decided to just drive and not record. Hopefully I’ll have an opportunity while I’m still here to capture this drive for you, because it is one of the most beautiful drives you can do from Queenstown.

Road sign for Glenorchy on the Glenorchy Queenstown road on the South Island of New Zealand

The drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy is 44 km in length. While I did not time myself, it generally takes about 30 minutes to drive. However, since the road was icy and there was snow alongside it, I decided to take my time.

As I was reaching Glenorchy, I was surprised to see the sun piercing through the low hanging clouds.

Snow-capped mountain peaks piercing through above low hanging clouds during winter in Glenorchy on the South Island of New Zealand

And within a few minutes, a few mountain peaks suddenly appeared above the clouds. Since the sun had broken through, I decided to go for a short walk around Glenorchy Lagoon.

Frozen grass and trees in the fields surrounding Glenorchy Lagoon during winter in Glenorchy on the South Island of New Zealand

The fog was continuously present, and after my walk, the sun disappeared again, because the low clouds had won the battle and it became completely overcast. The entire region was cold and frosty for a long while. By the way, since I’ve been here in Queenstown and the surrounding region, the temperatures have been between -2 and 3 degrees Celsius during the day with sun!

After Glenorchy, I drove back to Queenstown (where the weather was fantastic!) and wanted to have a bite to eat, but Queenstown city center was closed off, because of the Queenstown Winter Festival.

And because it was already getting late, and I wanted to do the Queenstown Hill Time walk, which generally takes almost 2 hours for me to reach the summit, and still catch some afternoon sun, I decided to skip lunch and just go do the walk.

The trail up to Queentown Hill is steep in many places and was slippery with ice and snow, so needless to say, this slowed me down. I should have brought my snowshoes with me, because they would have come in very handy on this trail.

If you’re not into skiing or snowboarding, but do like snowshoeing, this Queenstown hiking trail is a good one to snowshoe on in winter after a day of heavy snow. While you won’t need the snowshoes when you’re in the forest (the first part of the walk), you will be able to use them when climbing to the summit.

Snow at the top of Queenstown Hill during winter in Queenstown on the South Island of New Zealand

When you reach the summit, you’ll enjoy 360 degrees views of Lake Wakatipu, The Remarkables, Cecil Peak, Walter Peak, Ben Lomond, and be able to see all the way to Crown Range.

I was hoping to finish this winter walk without slipping, but unfortunately I did, so tomorrow I’ll probably have to deal with soreness in my right thigh. Just hope I have not pulled my hamstrings, because they were stiff right after the walk. Oh well, might go for a few long drives tomorrow…

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