Lake Tekapo

Visit Lake Tekapo

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  • Lake Tekapo is at the northern edge of the Mackenzie Basin. It is fed by glacial rivers, giving it a turquoise colour. Tekapo township, at the southern end of the lake, is a base for many outdoor and alpine activities, as well as water-based recreations.

    Canterbury Ski Area - Opening Dates for 2013

    ·       Mt Hutt - from 15 Uune 2013

    ·       Mt Dobson from 12 July 2013

    ·       Tekapo (Round Hill) from 6 July 2013

    ·       Fox Peak – from June/July, as snowfall permits

    ·       Click here for information on skiing in the South Island

    The Mackenzie District was named after a colourful figure from New Zealand’s colonial history, sheep rustler James Mackenzie. With the aid of his dog, he stole thousands of sheep, driving them into the largely unexplored interior - “a plain of vast extent”. After his capture in 1855, his dog reputedly continued to herd sheep alone. A statue of the dog (as a memorial to all New Zealand’s working dogs) stands on the foreshore of the lake, beside the Church of the Good Shepherd, the Mackenzie District’s first church, built in 1935.

    Tekapo is renowned for its clear night skies, and the brightness of number of stars visible. An astronomical observatory near the town is open to the public. Other popular local attractions include a winter park, lake cruises, and craft shops that sell local wool and knitwear products.

    Accommodation in Lake Tekapo (NZ)

    Tekapo has a good range of motel and hotel /inn accommodation options, including luxurylodges, and many bed & breakfast establishments and home-stays.

    There are backpacker lodges and holiday parks for budget and motorhome travellers.

    Holiday homes and self-contained cottages and apartments are available for rent.

    Transport around Lake Tekapo

    Tekapo is about 80 minutes’ drive from Timaru on the east coast, or 2 hours and 20 minutes’ drive from Wanaka in the south. The journey from Christchurch takes about 3 hours.

    Inter-city coaches and smaller mini-bus shuttle transports connect Tekapo with main cities and other locations around the Mackenzie Basin.

    Tekapo Airport, two minutes south of the township, services charter flights from other South Island locations.

    Mountain biking is very popular around Tekapo, and high-quality cycles are available for hire within the town.

    Tourist Activities around Lake Tekapo

    Tekapo is a popular skiing location in winter. There are two main ski areas: Mount Dobson and Round Hill. Adventurous skiers and snowboarders can use helicopter transport services for off-piste skiing from high altitude. Helicopter transport is also used by hunters and mountain bikers.

    Scenic flights from Tekapo are a great way to see the hundreds of kilometres of mountains that form the Southern Alps, including the highest mountains, including Mount Cook and 16 other peaks higher than 3,000 metres.

    Water sports enjoyed on the lake include boating, water-skiing and windsurfing. Lake cruises are a pleasant way to enjoy a day of relaxed sightseeing. Fishing for trout and salmon is good, especially where rivers and streams join the lake. White-water kayaking is popular along a stretch of man-made rapids south of the lake, near the township.

    Guided tours of the surrounding country are available, travelling by mini-coach, horse or mountain bike. There are also many hiking trails, which can be attempted alone or with a guided group, including the 2-3 day Tekapo Trek and the 3-day Ball Pass trek in Mount Cook National Park. Overnight accommodation is provided in trampers’ huts. The Tekapo Regional Park, at the south of the Lake, provides many more tramping opportunities.

    Tekapo has a good range of restaurants and cafes, and a number of gift/souvenir and craft shops, many of which sell knitwear and other local wool products. The town has a 9-hole golf course and mini-golf. A recently-opened winter park on the outskirts of the town has an ice-skating rink (inline or roller skates in summer), and inner tube sledging area (snow in winter, frictionless surface in summer), along with hot pools and a beauty spa.

    Tekapo’s night sky is renowned for the brightness and number of stars visible, due to its 700 metre altitude and the lack of any light pollution. Night sky tours are available, which may include a visit to the Mount John astronomical observatory, located on a mountain overlooking the town.

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    Lake Tekapo