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This spectacular tour along the Bullock Wagon Trail gives you a highland feeling, and you can do it by car or bicycle. Or walk on the bicycle track - because long stretches on the true right side of the Lake Tekapo Canal, designed as the Lake Tekapo-Twizel bike trail, are so rough and rocky that we were close to getting a headache on the bike and were relieved when we could cross the canal on a bridge and continue on the low-traffic road.
The bike trail starts at the end of the township of Lake Tekapo towards Twizel (Aorangi Crescent, Dons Drive, Scotts Pond towards Te Araroa), and leads along the canal on the left side of SH8. After 12kms it crosses SH8. If you want to cycle on the bike track turn right, cross the canal, lift your bike over the safety bar and carry on, otherwise you cycle 750metres down the road on SH8 and back. BUT - I would stay on the road on the left side of the canal.
This spot on SH8 is also a good starting point for the tour. You can park beside the road, at a very big white/blue mailbox with the name "Irishman Creek". You cross the canal and turn right to Mt. Cook Salmon Farm/"Bullock Wagon Trail". From here it is just 16kms to Lake Pukaki.
On a clear day the canal is as turquoise blue as the lakes. You are a lot closer to the mountain ranges than on SH8, and soon you will always see Mt. Cook, and pass the Mt. Cook Salmon Farm, located directly in the canal. After a while you spot Lake Pukaki and the Power Station. From here the road leads downhill directly to the lake. There you can turn to the right and carry on to the north until the end of the road, or you turn left and reach the Mt. Cook Lookout on SH8. From here you can carry on to Twizel on the bike trail or ride back to your car. Description of the complete 58km hike/bike trail on this website:
BTW The historic Bullock Wagon Trail leads from Timaru to Twizel and is 320kms long. It was formerly used to transport goods and wool from the high country to the coast.
Updated Apr 25, 2007
Another remarkable turquoise coloured lake... We were heading towards Lake Tekapo from Twizel on State Highway 8 (SH8) when we had this scenic stop. You'll be able to see Mt Cook on the far side of the lake. Definitely worth the stop!
Lake Pukaki is 518 - 532m above sea level depending on the time of year.
Written Jan 13, 2005