Lake Tekapo

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Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is a lakeside resort village in the Mackenzie Country in the South Island of New Zealand. It gets its name from one of the Southern Lakes in the Southern Alps.

Understand[edit]

Surrounded by mountains and far from the glare of city lights, Lake Tekapo's cloud-free skies make it the best place in the Southern Hemisphere to see the night sky. Local light-pollution laws require all exterior night-time lighting to shine down onto the ground, rather than into the sky. World heritage status is currently being sought for the area as the world's first starlight preservation area.

Get in[edit]

It is about 60 km by road, north of Twizel on State Highway 8, the Central Southern Alps Highway, three hours south of Christchurch and three hours north of Queenstown.

Bus services to and from Lake Tekapo:

  • Atomic Shuttles, +64 3 322 8883, reservations@atomictravel.co.nz
  • Wanaka Connexions, +64 3 443 9122, Fax: +64 3 443 8237, bookings@wanakaconnexions.co.nz
  • Southern Link Shuttles, +64 3 358 8355, Fax +64 3 358 8585
  • Great Sights +64 800 744 487, e-mail: . Free,
  • Intercity Newmans, +64 3 379 9020, Freephone 0800 100 663

Get around[edit]

See[edit]

Church of the Good Shepherd
  • Church of the Good Shepherd - With an amazing view straight up the lake.
  • Mount John Observatory -
  • Parkbrae Estate. Walk or guided tours through beautiful private gardens - opposite Church.

Do[edit]

View toward the north end of Lake Tekapo from the top of Mt. John

There's excellent and relatively easy hiking around Lake Tekapo. Two tracks to the top of Mt. John starts near the western end of town (right before and right after Tekapo Springs). The shorter path takes 45 minutes to an hour to get to the top, following a switchback trail through some pine forest, while the longer path (taking 1.5-2 hr) climbs more gradually along the lake shore, before doubling back to climb up to the top from the north. At the top of the hill you can follow a short loop track around the observatory for excellent views toward the Southern Alps, or stop at the cafe there for some excellent hot chocolate.

Another 1.5-2 hr hike - the Peninsula Walkway - starts a short bit north of Mt John (most easily reached by car), and takes you around the peninsula which lies halfway along the length of the lake. This is a relatively new hike, and the path hasn't really been worn out yet. Make certain you're following the poles rather than sheep tracks which can divert in different directions altogether. This hike is closed from October to December for lambing.

There are also various organized activities:

  • Backcountry Ski Touring 2-5 days based at hut above snowline, touring the valleys, ridges and basins of the Two Thumb Range. [1]
  • Skiing Ski Roundhill [3]; Mt. Dobson [4]
  • Golf Mackenzie Golf Club Phone +64 3 680-6830; Golf Cross Phone +64 3 680-6844; Minigolf, phone +64 3 680-6745
  • Earth & Sky Observatory Tours (Beside -the Godley Hotel - opposite Caltex),  +64 3 680-6960. 10:00-late. Do an Earth & Sky tour at one of either two observatories - the famous Mt John Observatory (a research station run by the University of Canterbury, now also hosting night tours and a stunning cafe) or a smaller, more private observatory nearby at Cowan's Hill. On clear nights you can see the wonders of the night sky. If it's cloudy, see areas of the observatory normally closed to the public, and learn about the scientific work done here. The stargazing tours are rapidly becoming one of the "must-do" activities for people coming to the South Island - both for locals and tourists alike. The weather is changeable here, so perhaps stay a few days to make sure you get a clear sky. To see the most stars, avoid the full moon: between five days after full moon and ten days before it will give the darkest skies.
  • Tekapo Springs6 Lakeside Drive +64 3 680-6550. The Tekapo Springs complex includes a complex containing three inviting hot pools with bench-side seating, private nooks and crannies, and massage jets. The temperature of the pools are 36-40°C. Next to the pools is a sauna and steam room. Four fully-functional spa rooms provide massages, facials, pedicures, manicures and total body care, and each treatment booked gives complimentary access to the sauna and steam room. In addition, there is an ice rink, that is converted for inline or roller skating during spring and summer. Finally, there is also a snow park that provides an ice ramp used with inflatable tubes. This operates as a Summer Tube over the warmer months on artificial matting.

Buy[edit]

  • Alpine Haven - Wide range of quality New Zealand products and souvenirs +64 3 680-6656
  • High Country Crafts - Good value New Zealand gifts +64 3 680-6905
  • Kiwi Treasures and Information Centre - Popular gifts and souvenirs, postcards +64 3 680-6686
  • Lake Tekapo Post Centre - Fishing licences and tackle also +64 3 680-6861
  • Tekapo Services - Supermarket and fuel +64 3 680-6809
  • Caltex Petrol Station - Snow chains, motor accessories +64 3 680-6933

Eat[edit]

  • Jade Palace Chinese Restaurant +64 3 680-6828
  • Kohan Japanese Restaurant +64 3 680-6688
  • Observatory Cafe +64 3 680-6886
  • Pepe's Pizza & Pasta +64 3 680-6886. Serves pizza's, pasta and salads, including several vegetarian options. Takeaways available.
  • Reflections Cafe & Restaurant +64 3 680-6234
  • The Godley Resort Hotel +64 3 680-6848

Drink[edit]

  • Astro CafeMt John Observatory (drive along Godley Peaks Rd (off the highway, just south of Tekapo Village) until you come to the gate). 09:00-18:00 (summer) or 10:00-17:00 (winter). Views, walks, and coffee and food. If you're lucky, you may catch an astronomer floating about to give you a short tour of the observatory, or perhaps show you a star (or the sun!) in the daytime through special telescopes. Drive time from Tekapo is only 15 min, or you can walk up the trail starting at Tekapo Springs. The road is closed outside of cafe operating hours to protect the Observatory, so check the opening times first. Being up so high (1,000 metres above sea level) the road is occasionally closed due to high winds or snow. The narrow road cannot carry vehicles larger than 22-seater buses, and as the observatory is private-lease land, any commercial / tourist ventures must get permission from Earth & Sky before going up.

Sleep[edit]

Backpacker[edit]

  • Lakefront Lodge Backpackers +64 3 680-6740
  • Tailor-Made Tekapo Backpackers +64 3 680-6700.
  • YHA +64 3 680-6857. Provides dorm and private rooms (with heaters available during winter), communal facilities like a kitchen, laundry and shared bathrooms, and a large cozy lounge with huge windows overlooking the lake. Also has tent sites available.

Motel and hotel[edit]

  • Parkbrae Estate +64 3 680-6780. Provides a selection of quality cottages and apartments to suit a variety of tastes and budgets. Full of character, and very close to the lake, shops, and Church of the Good Shepherd.

Bed and breakfast[edit]

  • Tekapo Moonlight B&B +64 3 680-6514. Offers a view over the lake and the church while you enjoy your breakfast. The ground floor has three rooms and a lounge. The garden is relaxing.
  • Tekapo House B&B +64 3 680-6607. Offers over 30 self-contained holiday homes, many with views of the lake and mountain range. These holiday homes are fully equipped with amenities.

Go next[edit]


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