10 Unmissable Things to Do in Lake Tekapo
What to do in Lake Tekapo.
Lake Tekapo is on almost everybody’s New Zealand bucket list. Many of New Zealand’s most stunning photos come out of Lake Tekapo, but after you’ve taken that photo of the vibrant blue lake and mountains, what do you do next? Well, in this list, we’ll suggest nine awesome things to do in Lake Tekapo!
After you’ve gone through this list featuring scenic flights, hot pool, ski areas, hike, bike trails and more, you’ll realise that you’ll definitely want to book a few nights to make the most out of Lake Tekapo. Find some of the cheapest accommodation in our 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Lake Tekapo.
Plus, if you still need more information, then head on over to Lake Tekapo – Guide for Backpackers.
1. Stargaze in a Dark Sky Reserve
Yep, Lake Tekapo is literally one of the best places in the world for stargazing. It’s part of the Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve which means it is recognised on an international scale for its pristine stargazing conditions. Either hop in the car, get out of town and find a safe place to pull over for some stargazing away from artificial light to enjoy the stars. Join a tour to the Mt John Observatory where you can use state-of-the-art telescopes to see galaxies like you’ve never seen before or combined your stargazing with hot pools on the Tekapo Springs Stargazing Tour.
For other awesome places to stargaze in New Zealand, see here.
2. Get an obligatory photo with the Church of the Good Shepherd
The Church of the Good Shepherd is the most photographed building in New Zealand. That’s likely because it’s impossible to take a bad photo of this quaint church with the stunning backdrop of Lake Tekapo and the Southern Alps. Work on your people-deleting Photoshop skills though, because there’s a whole bunch of people wanting to take a photo at the same time as you!
Location: On Pioneer Drive on the eastern side of the road bridge.
3. Frolic in fields of lupins
Apart from stargazing and its brilliant blue lake, Lake Tekapo is also famous for its huge amount of lupins! See the lupins bloom their purple and pink flowers during the summer season (usually late November to February) and get a ridiculous amount of photos of them!
Wise up on your lupin knowledge with Where to Find Lupins in New Zealand.
4. Take a scenic flight over the Southern Alps
That’s right, from Lake Tekapo airport you can take scenic flights not only over Lake Tekapo itself, but all the way to the Southern Alps. Fly around New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki Mt Cook, and see a whole lot of glaciers, glacier lakes, braided rivers and generally mind-blowing scenery.
Location: Lake Tekapo Airport
5. Hike up Mt John
If you’re visiting Lake Tekapo on the cheap, then don’t worry! There are a few walks to catch some great scenery while saving the cents. Walk up to Mt John on the Mt John Summit Circuit, where you’ll venture up through pine forest and out onto the open tussock fields. You’ll capture views of Lake Tekapo and the Southern Alps on this 1h30 to 3-hour walk.
Location: Start the walk from next to Tekapo Springs, Lakeside Drive.
6. Relax in some hot pools
Unwind at the Tekapo Springs hot pool complex with three large hot pools varying in temperatures and overlooking Lake Tekapo. In winter, the complex also features ice skating, while summertime means jumping on the giant water slide.
Location: Lakeside Drive.
7. Give the dog statue some attention
Standing in the shadow of the Church of the Good Shepherd, many tourists forget to give the dog monument the attention it craves. The Mackenzie sheepdog statue is a monument to the first permanent settler of the area, James Mackenzie and his dog, Friday.
Location: Next to the Church of the Good Shepherd on Pioneer Drive.
8. Hike or Bike the Cowans Hill Walkway
If you can’t get enough of those Tekapo views, then there’s one last place to lap it all up. Take the Cowans Hill Walkway through exotic forest and up to tussock-covered hills. There are a few wetland areas to watch the birds. You can either hike or bike this trail which takes about an hour to complete one way. For bikers, it’s a grade 2 trail.
Location: The track is well signposted near the Tekapo road bridge.
9. GO skiing/snowboarding
Lake Tekapo is home to not one but two ski fields! During the winter months (June to August) the Roundhill Ski Area and Mt Dobson Ski Fields crank on the tow bars and become a skiers’ paradise. Find out more in The 24 Ski Fields in New Zealand
Location: Roundhill is 32km from Tekapo on the eastern side of the lake. Mt Dobson is 43km from Tekapo with the alpine access road starting 18km east of Tekapo.
10. DO a Scenic Jet Boat ride
Mix one of New Zealand’s most popular and thrilling ways to travel with the breathtaking scenery of Lake Tekapo. Tekapo Jet gives you the chance to get onto the glacial blue waters of Lake Tekapo itself stopping at highlights such as Moutariki Island and the Church of the Good Shepherd. Your guide will also give you insights into the local Maori legends and fascinating geography of the area.
Location: Tekapo Jet Booking Office, State Highway 8 (west side of the road bridge).
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