Epic Water Slides and Scenic Hot Pools in Lake Tekapo

Oh Lake Tekapo, how you have been teasing us with dreamy photos of a Southern Alps backdrop contrasting against the blue skies and a bluer lake seen between the purple petals of the lupins. That Church of the Good Shepard creating the foreground for sparkling Milky Way shots on nights as clear as glass. Reality: New Zealand weather. Although November/early December is the best time to see the lupins begin to blossom with slightly less people photo bombing your artistic shots, this is also the time where the weather is most unpredictable. The clouds might be too thick for stargazing or taking a flight over the Southern Alps for us today, but there is an all-weather activity we can rely on in Lake Tekapo – Tekapo Springs.

The lupin scare of 2016

Tekapo Springs couldn’t be in a more prime location, just casually leaning against Mt John on the lakeshore of Lake Tekapo. Conveniently enough for us, it’s just a 5-minute walk from the Lake Tekapo Holiday Park. The track follows the lake lined with pine cones as big as your head and, of course, those freakin’ lupins! Every 30 seconds we get a fright as someone holding a camera pops their head out of the lupins like a meerkat in long grass. Jeezus!

Tekapo Springs

There it is, nestled under the pine forest of Mt John and overlooking the lake, Tekapo Springs. We go check-in, get our wristbands and all-day pass (pretty handy considering the pools don’t close until 9pm!) only to be totally thrilled to see this place is not just about relaxation… It gives you a reason to relax!

In a space usually holding an ice rink in winter, a huge inflatable structure with three giant water slides fills the entire rink. Oh my freakin’ God! Let’s do this!

A good place to chill A good place to chill
Erm, did no one show you how to use those, Laura? Erm, did no one show you how to use those, Laura?
Moody mountain views from the Tekapo pool Moody mountain views from the Tekapo pool
As a backpacker, you've got to take showers where you can! As a backpacker, you've got to take showers where you can!

Epic water slide

You’ve never seen two people get changed so fast. We’re out of the door and climbing 11m-high stairs to the top where a dude holding a hose is keeping that slide nice and slippery. He cheekily hoses us down as we launch ourselves down the steep, straight and speed-inducing slide. It’s chaos at the bottom when the water splashes all up in our face and we just let the momentum spin us around in whatever way it chooses.

As Laura picks out her wedgy, she screams: “That was so much fun!” and we’re both running up the  stairs again.

Freestyling and limbs flying

Two at a time, belly slide, backwards slide, taking on the chutes that turn a corner, going down on our knees and trying to stand up at the bottom… We are freestyling this water slide like there’s no tomorrow. Limbs are flying everywhere, major shapes are being pulled and speed is being picked up!

There gets to a point, perhaps after the 15th time we’ve climbed up the stairs, the 15th time we have been hosed down by the water boy, and the 15th time Laura’s had to pull out a wedgy while Robin has to watch this ordeal, that the call of the hot pools becomes louder and louder.

Hot pools with a view

Relaxing Lake Tekapo Hot pools

The atmosphere of the hot pool-side of the facility, separated from the madness of the water slide, already feels relaxing. Small groups gather for quiet conversations, some people isolate themselves with a waterfall back massage, and couples perch themselves on the side of the pool to cool down.

Although there are three main hot pools, each named after a high country lake in the region with varying degrees of heat, we walk straight into the hottest one at around 40 degrees Celcius. Ahhhh! After the most epic slip n’ slide of our lives, this couldn’t feel more soothing.

Hardcore bathers

This pool, the Tekapo pool, undoubtedly has the best view over Lake Tekapo out of the tiered layout of pools. Surrounded by high-country plants like tussocks, it couldn’t be a more authentic, (yet slightly glamourised because they are, indeed, hot pools), for this region. The Tekapo pool is also the emptiest out of the hot pools, because only the hardcore bathers can stand the heat for more than 10 minutes.

The aftermath of trying to stand up on a water slide... The aftermath of trying to stand up on a water slide...
Just... pure... enjoyment Just... pure... enjoyment
See ya, Robin! See ya, Robin!

 Water jets and back massages

We gradually make our way down to the darker blue and less intense Pukaki pool, then sit ourselves under a water jet in the Ohau pool. We realise that you are more likely to feel the effects of the massaging jets if you actually have even a trace of muscle to sooth. Where skinny-boy Robin has the tiniest little biceps thanks to hauling a manual power steering-less 3.3 tonne campervan around New Zealand, can feel the relaxing effects, Laura has more fun just making weird faces behind them… Gawd, can’t take her anywhere! She should just be sent with the rest of the childish adults who are playing in the water features of the kids pool. (Which looks totally awesome by the way, just saying).

A machine that dries your togs… WHat?!

Feeling revived, refreshed and looking like a prune, we leave the pools, dry our togs (swimwear in the delicate language of the Kiwis) in some sort of high-tech tog-drying machine, and get ourselves a post-pool coffee at the cafe. Since this is a day of indulgence, we get ourselves a brownie too. And what? Who’s judging? It’s delicious.

So we have used up our all-weather card for Lake Tekapo. Our must-do list also involves stargazing and a flight over the Southern Alps. Let’s hope the weather picks up for tomorrow! Join us then!

Laura and Robin

Post-pool coffee session in the Tekapo Springs cafe
Post-pool coffee session in the Tekapo Springs cafe Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Want more?

Have you read the yesterday’s post? Of course you have! Now, check out these articles to plan an incredible gap year in New Zealand:

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See you tomorrow!

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