Lake Tekapo is only a three-hour drive from Christchurch, which makes it an ideal choice for a long weekend or day trip.
The Lake Tekapo Experience
The shores of Lake Tekapo are home to a number of shops, cafes and restaurants, and the village is filled with the hustle and bustle of visitors. The snow covered peaks of the Southern Alps are reflected on the surface of the lake, and these mountains are perfect for skiing and snowboarding. There are local hot pools, which offer the opportunity for a relaxing soak after a long day of fun. If stargazing is your goal, you will find one of the world’s best dark sky reserves. Simply look up into the night sky and be amazed by what you see. You can also head to Mt John Observatory for a spectacular stargazing tour.
The Church of the Good Shepherd is a must-see, as you will experience some of the most beautiful views of the Aoraki Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand, directly through the altar window. If you want a closer look at this peak, consider an Air Safari flight for an unforgettable experience.
Lake Tekapo Activities
There are a number of activities for visitors to the Lake Tekapo area, and there is plenty to do no matter what the season:
There is no better way to see Lake Tekapo than from the air, and Air Safaris can make this happen. This service offers scenic flights over some of the most stunning scenery in New Zealand. Each flight lasts for 50 minutes, and you will fly over areas such as the Westland National Parks, 12 glaciers, some of the highest peaks in the Oceanic region and the subtropical rainforests along the west coast of the South Island.
Mt John Observatory
Mt John Observatory is one of the best places in the entire region for stargazing, but day and night. Visitors can take their hire car or even hike to the top of Mr. John, and when arriving, you will be greeted with outstanding views of the Mackenzie Basin.
Day tours are available, and when skies are favourable, you can see the stars even when the sun shines brightly. This is the home of New Zealand’s largest telescope, and with this and others, it makes daytime viewing of the stars a possibility.
At night, the famous Mt John Observatory tour is held, and all of your transportation, information and equipment is included in the cost of the tour. You will have use of some of the most powerful telescopes, too, which will reveal stunning star clusters and planets. You can also bring a DSLR camera on the tour where you have the opportunity to catch mind-blowing scenes from the skies. Even if the stars are hidden from view, you will still get a tour of the observatory and have the chance to see some of the discoveries the telescopes have made throughout the years.
For the ultimate spa experience, make sure to visit the Tekapo Springs, which feature a spa and winter park.
There are three hot pools available, which range from 36 to 40 degrees Celsius, and all have views overlooking Lake Tekapo and the mountains. There is also a day spa on site with massages, a sauna, steam room and plunge pool.
Since the springs are situated in the mountains, you will find that skating and tubing are year-round options. The skating rink allows for gliding across the ice in the winter months, and inflatable water sliders are used in the summer.
Trekking Lake Tekapo
There are also several trekking opportunities available in the Lake Tekapo area, both in the winter and summer.
One option is a guided snowshoeing tour, which is a three-hour experience that will take you through a winter wonderland featuring snowy valleys and ice-covered streams. If you are feeling adventurous, you can build a snow cave to sleep in at night, or stay in a man-made hut.
In the summer months, trekking is a popular pastime, and you can have an unforgettable experience after climbing a 2070m mountain, and then spend the night in a cosy hut to view the setting sun. At night, if conditions are right, you can see some of the darkest and clearest skies in the region.
Golfing at Lake Tekapo
If you are a golfer, the 9-hole Cairns Golf Course is a beautiful way to spend the day, and the course originates at the Mount John Station. Club hire is available, as are gold products, clothing and textiles. You also will find a range of products made from alpaca and sheep products, which come from nearby Balmoral Station.
Spending some time in the Lake Tekapo region will refresh your mind, body and soul. You will gaze upon the turquoise waters of the lake and wonder if this could truly be heaven on earth. Lake Tekapo is small enough to visit on a day trip from Christchurch via hire car but large enough for those who want to spend a few days away from the city. If you are looking to experience a one of a kind adventure on the South Island, consider a visit to Lake Tekapo.
Need transportation to make the most of the region? View our full range of affordable Christchurch rental cars and explore the best of Lake Tekapo, McKenzie Country and beyond at your leisure.
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