Paradise with Nomad Safaris, Queenstown, New Zealand
She Went Wild’s Marketing + Events Coordinator, Thuc, recently spent 26 days in and around Queenstown, New Zealand. It was her 5th time to Queenstown and the most adventure-packed trip yet with over 150 kilometres hiked, the first ever Women’s Adventure Film Tour in New Zealand…and a 4WD tour with Nomad Safaris!
Queenstown is known by many as the Adventure Capital of the world because the to-do list there is seriously endless.
Whether you’re after just a few super intense minutes of adrenalin-spiking or a solid stint off the grid, you will find your perfect adventure here.
Well, I’m going to add to that list today and highly recommend a 4WD tour with Nomad Safaris that will REALLY get you off the beaten track and up close + personal with the breathtaking New Zealand scenery, super efficiently with little fuss.
I spent a half-day with Fabian from Nomad Safaris going deep into Paradise on the Glenorchy Lord of the Rings tour. I had the choice between Paradise and New Zealand’s most dangerous road to Skippers Canyon. Whilst Skippers Canyon is epic, I’ve always wanted to go to Paradise but have never had the right vehicle for it as there are a handful of streams to cross. Plus, the drive to Glenorchy itself is one of the most beautiful drives and I never get sick of it.
The road to Glenorchy
There are so many jaw-dropping views along this road that it’s a bit of a driving hazard. Fabian told me that he’s seen someone actually stop their car in the middle of the road in order to take photos! Fortunately for everyone’s wellbeing, there are many opportunities to safely pull over and we took almost all of them!
From 12 Mile Delta to Bennetts Bluff and everything in between, the views are consistently stunning. There were some spots that I wouldn’t have been able to get to had I been self-driving without a 4WD. We were able to even practically pull right up to the water at one point.
For the LOTR fans, 12 Mile Delta is the filming location for Ithilien Camp. I’ve watched the movies (of course) and I actually got quite a kick out of Fabian pointing out specific spots and showing me photos of the scenes from the movies filmed there.
Bennetts Bluff is an iconic lookout over the head of Lake Wakatipu, towards the Southern Alps. We got to stop there both on the way to and back from Glenorchy, which I really appreciated because the weather changes so much that the view is always different.
Off-road to Paradise
Getting right into Paradise was the highlight of the tour for me.
This little corner of the world is so beautiful. There is so much diversity and every component is grand in its own right.
It was really cool to be able to get right amongst the peaceful beech forests, go crashing through the streams and be so close to the towering rock walls.
The contrast of the snowcapped peaks, the bare rock faces and the green and gold of the trees and grasses is a lot to take in and it is a great showcase of the beauty of Mother Nature.
I love hiking and backpacking for the way it enables me to become a part of the landscapes so I would’ve loved to walk into Paradise on my own two feet but sometimes (oftentimes), I just don’t have enough time. I was therefore super grateful to be able to get there in such an exciting, different and time-efficient way! I didn’t know if I would feel like I really got to see Paradise though through a 4WD so when I left feeling very connected to the landscapes, it was a pleasant surprise! I think that’s testament to the way Nomad Safaris handle their tours; yes, it is a thrill to be off-road in a 4WD but it’s also very much about the experience in the surroundings.
The Nomad Safari guides
So the thing is, yes, you can hire a 4WD yourself and self-tour…but part of connecting with and truly experiencing the place you are in is learning about its history and stories and engaging with the people who live there and call it home.
I learnt about the history of Queenstown, the recent conservation efforts (New Zealand really look after their home) as well as gained more awareness of how tourism has grown and shaped the place over a mere few years.
It’s also a perfect opportunity to ask for some local advice such as the best climbing spots!
But my favourite part was just this: I can only imagine how many times Fabian has driven these same roads, recounting the same facts and yet his appreciation for his home still shone through. And there are actually still some nooks and crannies that he hadn’t yet explored and I could tell he was itching to go suss them out!
Four hours flew by and we had seen so much yet not once did I feel rushed. A 4WD tour with Nomad Safaris is a cool mix of adrenalin and chill and the perfect way to soak up New Zealand’s grandeur, learn about the land of the long white cloud and meet some awesome people.
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