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Lake Tekapo
Lupins in 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.


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. Status as a World Heritage Site is being sought for the area as the world's first starlight preservation area.

Get in[edit]

It is about 60 km north of Twizel on State Highway 8, the Central Southern Alps Highway, 2.5 hours south-west of Christchurch and three hours north of Queenstown.

Bus services to and from Lake Tekapo:

Get around[edit]


Church of the Good Shepherd
  • 1 Church of the Good Shepherd (and sheepdog statue). The church is on the lakeshore and has an amazing view straight up the lake (almost picture-perfect behind the church). It is open during the day. Nearby is a bronze statue of a collie dog, in honour of the sheepdogs on which sheep farmers depend. Depending on the season, lupins can also be found here which is the main draw.
  • 2 Mount John Observatory, Godley Peaks Rd, +64 3 680 6000.
  • 3 Parkbrae Estate, 3 Sealy St, +64 3 680 6607. Daily 2–7PM. Walk or guided tours through beautiful private gardens - opposite Church.


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 1½-2 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 1½-2 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:

  • Tekapo Bike Hire, +64 3 680-6700. 9AM-7PM. Bike hire by the hour or by the day
  • Tekapo High Country Trek, +64 3 680-6736, . 3-day guided alpine walk in the foothills of the Southern Alps, overlooking Lake Tekapo.
  • Backcountry Ski Touring 2-5 days based at hut above snowline, touring the valleys, ridges and basins of the Two Thumb Range. [1]
  • Alpure Peaks Snowcat and Backcountry Adventures. Guided ski and snowboard day tours in the Two Thumb Range.
  • Earth & Sky Star Gazing, +64 3 680-6960. Observe the southern stars at one of the clearest locations in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Air Safaris Scenic Flights, +64 800 806 880. Fly over New Zealand's highest mountains and most spectacular alpine scenery.
  • Fishing Safaris, +64 3 680-6516.
  • Hunting Safaris +64 3 680-6774.
  • Ski Roundhill.
  • Mt. Dobson.
  • Ice Skating, Ice Hockey, Curling, +64 3 680-6550.
  • Day trips to Mount Cook.
  • Mackenzie Golf Club, +64 3 680-6830.
  • Golf Cross, +64 3 680-6844.
  • Minigolf, +64 3 680-6745.
  • Horse Trekking, +64 800 628 269.
  • Kayaking, +64 800 840 740, .
  • Salmon Farm Tours, +64 3 435-0085.
  • 4WD Excursions, +64 3 680-6844. Glenmore Tours.
  • Lake Tekapo Squash Club, +64 3 680-6739.
  • Tekapo Helicopters, +64 3 680-6229.
  • Earth & Sky Observatory Tours (beside the Godley Hotel - opposite Challenge petrol station), +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.
  • 1 Tekapo Springs, 6 Lakeside Drive, +64 3 680-6550. 10AM-9PM. 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 35-37°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. Tekapo Springs also offers nightly star viewing from the hot springs pools, with viewers suspended in pool hammocks/floats. $27-149.


  • 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.
  • Challenge petrol station - Snow chains, motor accessories +64 3 680-6933.


  • Astro Cafe, Mt John Observatory (drive along Godley Peaks Rd (off the highway, just south of Tekapo Village) until you come to the gate). Summer 9AM-6PM, winter 10AM-5PM. 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 or tourist ventures must get permission from Earth & Sky before going up.
  • 1 Jade Palace Chinese Restaurant, State Highway 8, +64 3 680-6828.
  • 2 Kohan Japanese Restaurant, +64 3 680-6688.
  • Pepe's Pizza & Pasta, +64 3 680-6886. Serves pizzas, pasta and salads, including several vegetarian options. Takeaways available.
  • Reflections Cafe & Restaurant, +64 3 680-6234.



Backpacker hostels[edit]

Motel and hotel[edit]

Bed and breakfast[edit]

Go next[edit]

Routes through Lake Tekapo
Omarama jcn to Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park  S  E  FairlieTimaru

This city travel guide to Lake Tekapo is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.