When she was just a girl
She expected the world
But it flew away from her reach
So she ran away in her sleep
And dreamed of para-para-paradise
On the Eastern Bank of the Dart River, north of Mount Alfred and Diamond Lake is an area called Paradise. It’s not just a clever name. The calm serene of this rural settlement justifies the heavy promise its name bestows.
The first part of the journey was easy going, taking a big right out of town we climbed over the rise and followed the Glenorchy Paradise Road. 12km up the road the tarmac single lane road gives way to dirt and gravel as you pass the farming community of Earnslaw and the first of the river crossings.
Now our Satnav and directions were a bit sketchy. Drive 18km and you should be there. So it’s not a complete surprise that as the rain started to come in and our visibility reduced that we did not notice the turn-off. No real visible sign, it was almost a rumour of a entrance drive. A whisper.
So we did what we thought to be right. Keep on driving until we saw something. So on we drove, past a large forest to our right, and sometimes through it, past sheep farms and a set of stables (Paradise Livery Stables). We navigated around some stubborn cows and through 3 more river crossings, our Corolla struggling with the fords. After 10km Karen stopped the car and through the keys at “our most amazing navigator”.
What followed next is language too violent and visceral to repeat here but it was decided that John needed to get out of the car and into the rain to take some photos and come up with a plan. And it needed to be a good plan. A very good plan.
The area we stopped in was a clearing in the middle of that forest we had skirted called Dan’s Paddock. It was quite a pretty and quiet part of the world with Mount Earnslaw and it’s Glacier directly north and surrounded on all sides by rows upon rows of Silver Beech Trees.
It was decided to drive back and somehow find what we were looking for. On the way the weather lifted and so did our spirits as we battled wild sheep on the road, river crossings that seemed that bit more perilous than when we first traversed them and the mocking toots of the farmers in their 4WD Jeeps. Out-of-Towners indeed.
As we made a big left turn we last minute noticed a sign saying “Paradise Trust” and immediately pulled a swerve the opposite direction up the hill. Momentarily we were in an episode of The Sweeney (For American viewers replace this pop culture reference for Starsky and Hutch).
We had arrived. With the actual fog lifting, the fog of war that prevented us from finding Paradise was gone as well. We parked up next to the main cabins and went for a nice walk. The Paradise Trust is set over 300 acres of land within the much larger Mount Aspiring National Park and its a mixture of forest track and hillside jaunt. The best part is when the beech trees fall behind and get this great big open space with one of the best views we have encountered. Its just so peaceful here and nice weather had arrived so was perfect for a picnic.
With all the pets at the Trust it was not a surprise to see that they had a Pet Cemetary on the grounds too. Bit spooky though.
On the way back we stopped in on the shores of Diamond Lake for some photos but not for long as our brief reprieve from the rain had ended in glorious fashion – it was raining sideways and it was raining heavily!
Night Falls on Manhattan
For the few days we had in Glenorchy it was all go-go-go during the day. Long hikes, drives and explorations took their toll. It meant a few quiet nights which given the lack of nightlife choices in town was not a bad thing. We would stroll around the town and then in between a few schooners at the Glenorchy Hotel bar and very competitive games of Scrabble, there was a 15 min period when all worries and cares were forgotten as we descended to the shore line for sunset. A magical time up in Glenorchy as the sun set below the distant mountain ranges. The last light shimmering off the lake before metamorphosing into a vivid pink hue across the sky. Every night without fail was a different show for us to consume.
All Good Things…
We only had two more nights left of our trip and they were to be spent 70km drive away, so an early start beckoned for us to get going. We were lucky enough to be staying in accomodation linked to the Glenrochy Trading Post so we were given a complimentary coffee on check-out to wake us up. The Trading Post staff were very friendly and recommended 1 or 2 places we could stop on the journey back west to Arrowtown. Its a cute little menagerie of a shop with snacks, drinks and tons of local goods and crafts to select from.
We stopped at a place called Bobs Cove and did a 20 min walk down to the shores. The cove had spectacular views across the lake and there was plenty of birds to spot in amongst all of the Blue Gum Trees that lined our track. In among the foliage are a couple of historic ruins including the remains of one of the lime kilns that were set-up in the 1800s.
And with that it was a short walk back uphill to the car and a quick reconfiguring of the SatNav for our final accomodation for the trip. It would be a short drive (30km) to our AirBnB in the historic Arrowtown.
We just had to get through mid-morning Queenstown rush hour first.
[…] the north end of Lake Wakatipu is the little village of Glenorchy. It acts as the gateway to Paradise, the Routeburn Track and the Mt Aspiring National Park. In LOTR terms it is Isengard, Amon Hem and […]