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Glenorchy Animal Experience Review & Guide to Visiting in 2024

Glenorchy Animal Experience Review & Guide to Visiting in 2024

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Glenorchy is one of my favorite small towns to visit in New Zealand. Not only is the drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy incredibly scenic but there is a lot to do along the way. It’s easy to see why a day trip to Glenorchy is one of the best things to do in Queenstown

While most people head to Glenorchy for a Lord of the Rings tour (this was a significant film location), there are even more hidden gems in this quaint town. 

The Glenorchy Animal Experience is at the top of this list! It is a petting zoo on a farm where you can do more than just pet the animals– it’s a whole interactive experience. While a petting zoo isn’t often on people’s radar, I can honestly say this experience was way more fun than it seems!

I hadn’t even heard of it until some friends asked me to go, and I was so glad that I did. I highly recommend anyone passing through Glenorchy to make a stop at the Glenorchy Animal Experience, so in this blog, you’ll find out all the details. I’ll cover what to expect, what it’s all about, and my overall opinion (spoiler alert, it was a ton of fun!).

Don’t have time to read the full article? The Glenorchy Animal Experience is an interactive petting zoo and is home to some of New Zealand’s cutest animals! You can spend about an hour here on your own, or visit as part of a Glenorchy guided tour which lets you enjoy the surrounding area, too.

About the Glenorchy Animal Experience

The Glenorchy animal Experience Farm
Even on a cloudy day, the farm is still beautiful!

The Glenorchy Animal Experience is essentially a petting zoo on a small farm where you can pet various farm animals and even feed them!

The farm has been family-owned for over 100 years and is still a fully functional farm. They started opening their farm to the public to give visitors a glimpse into life on a small New Zealand farm. Because of this, you’ll see normal farm operations happening all around you and the workers are happy to answer any questions you have. You’ll see sheep shearing and hay-making during the summer, lambing in the spring, and maybe even some babies no matter when you visit.

When I arrived, I was given a bit of information about the farm and some general rules for meeting the animals (such as not feeding the birds or any baby lambs), and then I was pointed in the direction to walk and was on my own.

I think this experience is even more unique because you are free to wander around by yourself, so it feels less like a tour and more like a personalized experience. If you’re an animal lover, visiting the Glenorchy Animal Experience will be the highlight of your time on the South Island!

Feeding sheep at the Glenorchy Animal Experience
Feeding sheep at the Glenorchy Animal Experience

The first few areas are pens of different animals all very eager to be fed. After walking around the first paddocks, you can go out to the back into the largest paddock, where you roam free with the animals.

You can watch the animals, pet them, and also feed them some food they give you when you arrive. Lots of animals will come right up to you looking for food!

From the furthest back paddock, there is an incredible view of the valley and mountains in the distance.

Related Read: Did you know that you can see what wool farming is all about at the Mt Nicholas wool farm tour in Queenstown? This is another fun experience for animal lovers!

What Animals are at the Glenorchy Animal Experience?

A black baby lamb at the Glenorchy Animal Experience
A black baby lamb!

At the Glenorchy Animal Experience, you will most definitely see sheep – and lots of them! Sheep has been a historic part of the Central Otago region, and it’s famous for producing Merino wool, but there are multiple types of sheep here.

I visited it was spring (October) and got to see baby lambs! This was my absolute favorite part of the Glenorchy Animal Experience. Most lambs are born from October onward, so if you are keen on seeing these adorable baby animals, plan your visit around then.

Although we weren’t allowed to feed or pet them, it was fun just being near them and watching them run and jump through the fields, which was definitely the highlight of my visit.

Two babay lambs cuddle at the Glenorchy Animal Experience
They are so cute!

Other than sheep, expect to see pigs, a donkey, miniature horses, a Clydesdale horse, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, ducks, a peacock, goats, llamas, alpacas, and of course, the friendly farm dogs!

Some of my other favorite animals were the alpacas and llamas, they were just so friendly and all had the cutest haircuts! I also appreciated how gentle they were when I fed them.

lamas and alpacas at the Glenorchy Animal Farm
Llamas and alpacas!

They would approach me cautiously and then slowly eat the feed right from the palm of my hand.

The KuneKune Pigs were the most interesting animals. They were so large and fat and had big mouths. There was one pig, in particular, that would come right up to the fence with his mouth wide open as if to ask for food. Although they aren’t the cutest species, it was hard not to love them since they were just so friendly!

What to Know Before You Visit the Glenorchy Animal Experience

pig at the glenorchy farm asking for food
The noisy pig!

Location

The Glenorchy Farm Experience is located about 5 minutes outside of Glenorchy. Now, if you don’t where Glenorchy is, it is a small town about 45 minutes away from Queenstown. The drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy is absolutely stunning and is something I would recommend to everyone!

From Glenorchy, turn right at the edge of town towards “Paradise” or the sign for the Routeburn track. Follow the road up and around for a couple of minutes until you pass the mirrored lakes on your left and then you’ll see the sign for the farm.

The Glenorchy Animal Experience can also be found easily using Google Maps.

Price

The cost is $25 NZD for an adult, $15 NZD for a child (5-10 years), and $60 NZD for a family of two adults and three children.

If you want to feed the animals (and believe me, you will want to) a bag of food is $5 NZD. The bag could easily be shared between two people, though.

They accept EFTPOS/debit and credit cards onsite.

How much time does it take?

Feeding some of the friendly animals with a gorgeous view
Feeding some of the friendly animals with a gorgeous view

This really depends on you and how much time it takes you to see all of the animals. For us, it took just over an hour but we watched and fed almost all of the animals! I’m sure some people stay longer and some are done much quicker. If you’re traveling with kids or want to catch a sheep shearing, expect it to take a bit longer, because there is so much to see!

They are open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm.

How to Book the Glenorchy Animal Experience

You have a couple of options to get into the Glenorchy Animal Experience, either show up at the farm and buy your tickets there or book in advance. Currently, there is a discount if you book on Bookme.

Otherwise, you can book a tour to Glenorchy that includes a stop at the Animal Experience as well. You will want to book this in advance before the tour fills up. Read about the details and secure your spot here!

Facilities at the Glenorchy Animal Farm

At the Glenorchy Animal Experience, you’ll also find a small souvenir shop, toilets, and a picnic area. They do not sell any food (for humans) so make sure you come full or bring a picnic. You can pick up some locally sourced wool-made items or farm-fresh eggs to take back with you!

There are a handful of restaurants in Glenorchy and even more restaurants in Queenstown, so since this experience isn’t too long you can plan on grabbing lunch afterward!

Related Read: While in the area don’t miss out on taking a wine tour in Queenstown, you’ll taste some of the finest wine in New Zealand!

About the Glenorchy Animal Farm

selfie with a donkey at the glenorchy petting zoo
Selfie with a donkey!

After touring the farm, we had to ask the owners about the farm. We found out that the farm is, in fact, an actual operating farm. It is very small though, so the Animal Experience is a way to help sustain them economically. So not only is it a fun experience to see all the animals, but you’re also supporting a local business!

We also learned that almost all of the animals which we interacted with are “pets” to the owners and that’s why they are so friendly. They are trained from a young age to be around humans, so that’s why they often run up when they see you coming. The animals are also used to other species and it’s common to see the chickens hanging out with sheep and alpacas near the mini horses.

Tours to the Glenorchy Animal Farm From Queenstown

View looking towards Glenorchy from the Queenstown to Glenorchy road
The road to Glenorchy is stunning!

Since the Glenorchy Animal Experience will only take an hour or so, you can pair this with a tour that lets you explore more of Glenorchy! This is a fantastic way to visit the small town from Queenstown if you don’t have a car or want to learn more about the area. Sometimes it’s just nice to have someone else plan the itinerary and take care of transportation too!

As you drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy, you’ll follow the stunning Lake Wakatipu and the guide will point to all sorts of scenic locations (there’s a lot along this route!). Your first stop is at the Glenorchy Animal Experience, where you’ll have over an hour to explore on your own. Then head to Paradise, which is an iconic Lord of the Rings film location outside of Glenorchy. Finally, you’ll have some time to explore Glenorchy and see what this charming little town has to offer!

This 4-hour tour is a laid-back way to experience the best of Glenorchy: scenic outdoors, adorable animals, quaint downtowns, and even Lord of the Rings! It includes transportation and entrance fees, but lunch is at your own expense. You can book this tour in advance for $194 NZD.

I can’t think of a better way to check out the Glenorchy Animal Experience, and even more of Glenorchy! Visiting Glenorchy is definitely one of the best tours you can do in Queenstown!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, read our complete Viator review to learn more about what we think about Viator.

Other Things to do in Glenorchy

While you’re in Glenorchy enjoying the Glenorchy Animal Experience, here are a few of the other best things to do in Glenorchy.

1. Visit Mirror Lakes via the Glenorchy Boardwalk

Mirror Lakes at the Glenorchy Lagoon
Mirror Lakes at the Glenorchy Lagoon

Just outside of Glenorchy on your way to the Glenorchy Animal Experience is the Glenorchy Lagoon. Here at the Glenorchy Lagoon, you’ll find the reflections of the Humboldt Mountains.

Although not technically called Mirror Lakes, it’s the name I have given this attraction as they literally are mirrors on a calm day.

To reach the lagoon you need to hike the Glenorchy Boardwalk, which is a 5-kilometer (3.1 mi) loop that starts at the Glenorchy jetty in town. This boardwalk leads to the Glenorchy Lagoon where you’ll find the mirror-like reflections.

2. Visit the Glenorchy Jetty

The Glenorchy Jetty
The Glenorchy Jetty

The pier in Glenorchy has the most perfectly located jetty that overlooks the Humbolt Mountain Range. This is a must-visit stop in Glenorchy that only takes a few minutes to enjoy. You can also see the “trees in a line”, which are about 6 random trees all in alignment that grows in the lake! It’s just another unique piece of scenery here.

Not only does it offer the most scenic viewpoint in Glenorchy, but it also has ample parking and is walkable to many cafes and shops, so it’s a great first stop when you visit Glenorchy. Right in this area you’ll also find the historic Railway Shed, which is the iconic red shed in all of the photos, so stop by and take a photo for yourself!

3. Go hiking on the Routeburn Track

The Views from the Routeburn Falls Hut
The Views from the Routeburn Falls Hut

Most people know the Routeburn Track as the 3-day hike that’s one of the 10 Great Walks in New Zealand. However, you can go hiking on the Routeburn track for the day from Glenorchy and I myself have done this a few times.

You can hike as much or as little as you want and our day hiking guide to the Routeburn Track has lots of different itineraries depending on how long you want to hike, what you want to see, and how fit you are.

If you don’t have your own transportation, don’t let that stop you from hiking the Routeburn Track! You can take a half-day guided hike that includes transportation from Queenstown, entrance fees to the park, and a naturalist guide to lead the way and teach you all about the area as you hike. They even provide snacks and water, so you literally just have to worry about hiking (and it’s a pretty easy stretch on this tour). You can reserve this half-day Routeburn Track guided tour for $225 NZD.

Alternatively, you can take a full-day hiking tour, which is privately guided and lets you explore more of the Routeburn Track! This is great if you don’t have transportation, or prefer to have a guide lead the walking path. This tour includes transportation from Queenstown hotels, a picnic lunch, and tons of information as you hike! You can book this experience for $750 NZD per person.

This is one of my favorite hikes near Queenstown, so it’s a great addition to your South Island itinerary!

Related Read: The Routeburn Track is even open during the winter! Before you hit the trail, be sure to read our Routeburn Track Winter Hiking Guide so you are well-prepared and can stay safe!

4. Go jetboating

Dart River Wilderness Jet in Glenorchy near Queenstown

One of the best jet boating in Queenstown tours is actually in Glenorchy! The Dart River Wilderness Jet is an awesome jet boating tour that takes you for over an hour down the Dart River enjoying this thrill ride before being dropped off in Mt Aspiring National Park for a 2.5-hour Funyak tour (inflatable kayak).

After that, you’ll take a 4WD tour back to Glenorchy with a guide who’ll show you a few film locations from the Lord of the Rings and Narnia films. The Wilderness Jet tour is so much more than just jetboating and lasts approximately 8 hours. It includes roundtrip transportation from Queenstown, all equipment needed for the day, entrance fees to the national park, a picnic lunch, and your wonderful guide! You can book this experience in advance for $440 NZD per person.

5. Visit Mrs. Woolly’s General Store

Mrs Woollys General Store, Glenorchy

Mrs. Woolly’s General Store is one of the only shops in Glenorchy. In the shop, you can find a range of souvenirs and quirky gifts as well as amazing coffee and a selection of food items.

If they have some of their amazing pies left (they sell out fast) be sure to try one – the salmon pie is my favorite! I stop in here every time I’m in Glenorchy to pick up a coffee or see what new quirky items are in the shop!

Where to Stay Near the Glenorchy Animal Experience

The Glenorchy shed in Glenorchy
Everybody who comes to Glenorchy visits the famous shed!

Most people only head to Glenorchy for the day; however, if you want to enjoy more unique experiences in New Zealand then I highly suggest spending a night or two!

Some of the best places to stay are:

Kinloch Wilderness Retreat – This is a great budget option with lots of amenities. Although not in Glenorchy, it is on the other side of Lake Wakatipu in a very quiet area. The views from the hostel are amazing and they also have private rooms in several different sizes!

There are DOC campsites right next to the Kinloch Retreat for $15 NZD a night, so this is an excellent option if you rent a campervan to tour New Zealand!

Glenorchy Lake House – Located right in town this is a really good option. You can find luxury private rooms and even a house that sleeps up to 9 people. This is a fantastic location, as you’re near many other must-do activities in Glenorchy!

EcoScapes Glenorchy – This luxury hotel has incredible views and each room has an entire glass wall, so you can see the best sunrises and sunsets from your room. There is an on-site restaurant and they offer transportation to the Routeburn Track trailhead, which is only 11 miles from the property. This luxury hotel isn’t cheap, starting at $595 NZD per night, but it’s worth it if you’re looking for an epic place to stay in Glenorchy!

If you are looking for more choices, check out our guide on where to stay in Queenstown, which is just 50 km from Glenorchy!

Renting a Car or Campervan in New Zealand

Bailey takes a selfie with a JUCY campervan
Ready to hit the road!
Bailey stands infront of a JUCY campervan in New Zealand
JUCY is another favorite!

The first step to planning your New Zealand road trip is choosing your set of wheels! Most people rent a campervan or motorhome to get around, but you can also just rent a normal car and stay in hotels (as opposed to camping.)

You can search for rental cars online here in advance to compare car models and prices.

You can also do this with motorhomes and campervans on a website called Motorhome Republic. It shows all of the available campervans and motorhomes for your specific New Zealand road trip dates. You can compare prices and company reviews here too!

JUCY is our personal favorite campervan rental company in NZ. We love JUCY because they have such a range of both cars and campervans available, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something to suit your budget and travel style.

We’ve actually secured an exclusive discount code for our readers with JUCY. Just click here to browse their availability and use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off! You must act quickly, though, as this code is only valid for bookings made before June 30, 2024, with travel dates before December 21, 2024!

You can check prices, availability and book with JUCY online here.

Star RV is another company we personally recommend but specifically for motorhomes! They offer larger motorhomes (as opposed to budget campervans) at really reasonable rates.

Star RV has actually given us a discount code for our readers too! Use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off your motorhome rental! Note, this code is only valid for bookings made before June 21, 2024 with travel dates before Dec 21, 2024. Click here to browse availability, prices, and book with our discount code!

Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!

We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!

SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.

They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.  

We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!

Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)

Thanks for reading!

Bailey feeds a sheep on the Mt Nicholas Farm
Even we enjoyed feeding the animals!

I had such a fun time feeding all of the different animals. They were all very cute and each had their own personality. I would highly recommend the Glenorchy Animal Experience to any animal lover – it is the perfect way to interact with some of New Zealand’s local farm animals.

Thanks so much for reading this guide to the Glenorchy Animal Experience. I hope it’s helped you decide to visit for yourself. If you have any questions leave them below in the comments section and we will get back to you!

If not then be sure to head over to our Queenstown page or New Zealand page to check out some of our other guides to this beautiful country we call home! Here’s just a taste of some of our favorite articles:

15 Best New Zealand Huts – Guide to Staying in Backcountry Huts

Queenstown Photography – 15 BEST Places to Take Photos

ULTIMATE Guide to Moke Lake (and the “Secret” Moke Lake Viewpoint!

Lauren Smith

Monday 25th of July 2022

Sadly the owners are racist

Emrah Esen

Saturday 28th of October 2023

@Lauren Smith, how ıs?

Renee F

Saturday 13th of October 2018

Aweeeee the little lambs and the donkey are so cute!! 😍