Lake Tekapo Travel Guide

  • Idyllic...
    Idyllic...
    by Martialsk
  • The classic view from the pub
    The classic view from the pub
    by Martialsk
  • ...at sunset
    ...at sunset
    by Martialsk

Lake Tekapo Highlights

  • Pro
    Kakapo2 profile photo

    Kakapo2 says…

     The remoteness and all those incredible colours 

  • Con
    mountainpoet profile photo

    mountainpoet says…

     Time it wrong and you'll hit a few tour buses. 

  • In a nutshell
    mountainpoet profile photo

    mountainpoet says…

     Worth more than a 10 leg stretch. But watch out for the tour buses. 

Lake Tekapo Things to Do

  • Lake Pukaki

    Lake Pukaki is one of three parallel lakes running north south from the Southern Alps. It is the largest of the three (the others are Lake Tekapo and Lake Ohau). All are glacier lakes and the glacial flour gives them that distinctive blue colour.Lake Pukaki is fed by the Tasman River from the waters of the Tasman and Hooker Glaciers. It is part of...

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  • Aoraki Visitor Centre

    The visitor centre at Mt Cook/Aoraki is quite amazing. It is full of imformation about the area including Maori history, wildlife, climbing history and the mountains. There are examples of Maori art and some beautiful stained glass windows featuring flora and fauna of the area.

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  • Mt Cook

    Mount Cook or in the Maori, Aoraki is the highest mountain in New Zealand. It is 3,754 metres high and is in the Southern Alps, the mountain range which runs the length of the South Island. It is a popular tourist destination all year round and on the list of challenges to mountain climbers. The Tasman Gacier (to the east) and the Hooker Glacier...

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  • Lake Tekapo

    Lake Tekapo is one of three lakes running almost parallel to each other. Lakes Pukaki and Ohau are the other two. Lake Tekapo is the second largest. It is fed by the waters of the Godley River and drained by the Tekapo River. It forms part of the extensive Waitaki Hydro Scheme.The township of Lake Tekapo is at the southern end of the lake and has a...

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  • Church of the Good Shepherd - Lake...

    Situated on the shores of Lake Tekapo is the Church of the Good Shepherd, which, in 1935, was the first church built in the Mackenzie Basin. It was built as a place of worship for many denominations and remains so today. As a memorial to the founders of the area it is made from local stone - in fact the stones could only be gathered from within 5...

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  • McKenzie County Collie Dog Memorial

    Border Collie dogs were introduced to the area in the 1800's byt the Scottish shepherds. Without these dogs the area could not have been farmed with any success. A memorial to the saviour of the McKenzie County has been erected at Lake Tekapo.

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  • At Enchanting Lake Tekapo

    Driving from Christchurch to Queenstown was the best thing we've done for our New Zealand trip!This was mainly due to the easy drive - not much traffic and of course since we're Sydneysiders we were comfy with the driving style there (unlike in LA where we were terrified to drive a car!).Along the way to Queenstown where we hope to see more snow...

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  • Church of the Good Shepherd

    Church of the Good Shepherd, built in 1935, one of the most photographed in New Zealand, and features an altar window that frames stunning views of the lake and mountains. Photography is not allow inside the church. There is a person guarding the church and may insist tourist to donate.

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  • Flight over Southern Alps of New Zealand

    Air Safaris provide a fantastic flight titled " The Grand Traverse of Aoraki Mount Cook and the glaciers". I took a flight in 2001 and 2009. The flight in 2001 was in a small 5 seater plane, and that in 2009 was in a larger plane with about 12 seats. Weather is crucial for a scenic flight. In 2001 the weather was perfect for flying- blue sky,...

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  • Go into the Air

    If you want to take a a flight over the moon-like landscape of the Mackenzie Country and the highest peaks of New Zealand dotted along the lakes – contact one of the following companies:Air SafarisPhone (03) 6806 880http://www.airsafaris.co.nz/http://www.tekapotourism.co.nz/activities/airsafaris.htmA tour from and back to Lake Tekapo costs NZ$ 280...

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  • Get on your Feet

    We love hiking (the New Zealanders call it tramping) and cycling at Lake Tekapo, apart from just walking half an hour and then lie in the sun. On a website I have seen an interesting guided 6-7 day tramp called "Lake Stroll" through four big sheep stations. Could be great but we have not made it (yet).We enjoy the walk up to Mt. John Oberservatory...

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  • The Sheepdog Monument, Friday and James...

    Just some metres from the Church of the Good Shepherd is a monument to honour a good shepherd's best friend: the Sheepdog Monument. The sign at the bronze statue says that the grazing of the mountainous Mackenzie Country would be impossible without the help of the sheep dogs.The most popular sheepdog in New Zealand is the border collie, a very...

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  • What a View from the Church of the Good...

    The pastor of Lake Tekapo can tell you funny stories. When tourists show up during a wedding ceremony some of them are full of admiration that they hold show weddings for tourists at the idyllic Church of the Good Shepherd! LOLThe weddings are real, and the church is used for normal church services. But obviously its spectacular location makes...

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  • Of Course, you are there for the Lupins...

    Although classified as weeds, they are wonderful. And of course, you are allowed to enjoy the splash of colour along the roads to and around Lake Tekapo. Depending on the weather, the Russel lupins are in bloom from November/December to January/February.The colour sensation along SH 8 starts shortly after Burke’s Pass – so take care when cars in...

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  • A Wonderful Project at Lake Alexandrina

    As soon as you leave Lake Tekapo township, you will most probably feel the solitude of the Mackenzie Country. Even more so, if you leave SH 8, and head along Lake Tekapo.You will be surprised to find a small community further out in the middle of nowhere, west of Lake Tekapo. If you drive along the lake (turn towards the Observatory at the Mt. Cook...

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  • Have Fun on the Ice or in the Hot Pools

    Another cool winter activity than skiing (and not as much depending on the weather) is getting on the ice. There is an ice-rink right in the darkest corner right under Mt. John. The latter has lately (mid 2007) been updated into a modern facility, called Alpine Springs and Spa and Winter Park. The already existing ice-rink has been replaced by a...

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  • Skiing as an attractive Winter...

    In winter you have 3 skifields on the east side of Lake Tekapo: Roundhill, Fox's Peak and Mt. Dobson. You get the best ski service in Fairlie. For that, many people stay in Fairlie when they plan to go skiing on the above mentioned ski fields. But staying at Lake Tekapo with this incredible lake and the vistas to Mt. Cook is also very intriguing…...

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  • Watch the Stars at the Observatory

    Lake Tekapo is known for its pristine waters and the clear sky. That is why an observatory was built on Mt. John. It belongs to the University of Canterbury and was long closed to the public but in the meantime you can visit, and since they have opened the Astro Caféup there you do not even have to bother to walk up the hill. You can get up there...

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  • Stay for an incredible Lot of Activities

    The most common activity tourists do at Lake Tekapo is getting off a tour bus, pose beside the Church of the Good Shepherd and - if being there at the right time - the lupins which grow along the shore of the most turquoise blue of all New Zealand lakes, take some photos of this magic scenery and get back into the bus.But there is a lot more to do...

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  • Drown in the Changing Colours of the...

    When I saw Lake Tekapo the first time I immediately fell in love with these incredible colours, and the love has not diminished.It was summer, and the lake was turquoise-blue. There was no wind, and the lake surface was so smooth that it looked like a watercolour painting in my photos. There were the lupins, and other yellow and blue flowering...

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  • Cycle along the Lake or to Lake Pukaki

    A nice cycling tour is on a gravel road along the west side of the lake to the head of the lake where you are NOT allowed to pass farmland. They seem to have been very clever, having the public road being built over the Godley River, and then denying access after one more kilometre... So do not bother riding further than the bridge. You best park...

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Lake Tekapo Restaurants

  • Not a place for steak

    My boyfriend and I had dinner at Mackenzie's Bar and Grill, I ordered steak which would be a safe choice in any place but not this time - the pepper sauce is tasteless, asked for medium but cooked medium rare. No formal apologies from duty manager but a "Oh, I'm sorry." from the waitress. But the lamb shank is ok though. Take your own risk if you...

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  • A rustic place with hearty Italian food

    This restaurant with its rustic and warm interior feels a little bit like a wooden hut in Switzerland. It is very comfortable to have dinner at the tables or a drink at the bar. The service has always been good, and the food as well.The menu is not enormously exciting but all the pizzas and pasta we have tried were very delicious, and whenever we...

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  • Coffee with a view second to none

    First of all: Do not go to the wrong place!!! The Observatory Café at Lake Tekapo is NOT at the observatory from where you probably have the best view in the whole country. The Observatory Café is right on HW8 and - although it has a nice view over the lake - is infamous for probably the worst service you can imagine. We do not go there anymore.The...

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  • Uninteresting food and bad service

    Just the other day I read a damning review about the horrible food and the bad service at the Observatory Café at Lake Tekapo on www.dineout.co.nz which reminded me not to forget to publish my opinion about this place.As we live near Christchurch and often drive to Lake Tekapo just for the day we have had drinks and eaten at this restaurant several...

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  • If Japanese tourists flock to this...

    I made another visit to this place a few days after the first one. Apparently overwhelmed with our busload, it took almost one full hour before we were served our meal. Tempura Udon, $15, no pickles, not with miso soup. The batter was thin and crispy, fatty, but not greasy...just right.

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  • If it was featured on Japanese TV...

    Tucked away, but still easily spotted if you walk through the souvenir store, with a great view over Lake Tekapo. Frequented by Japanese tourists and supposed highly recommeded in Japanese guidebooks, or so my Japanese friends with whom I ate here, told me. Bento Lunch Box, $18, miso soup, pickles and green tea included.

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Lake Tekapo Tourist Traps

  • storyin's Profile Photo
    UniversalMail New Zealand Stamp

    by storyin Updated Dec 3, 2013

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The UniversalMail New Zealand Stamps on my postcards were covered by white stickers of Singapore Post.

    And can not be removed.

    I bought the stamps because they look beautiful, but the service they offered is to cover the stamps.

    Sad.

    ------

    They do offer beautiful stamps, in expensive price, it is ok. BUT!
    Their stamps will not let your postcards arrive quickly, safely and beautifully.

    You can find so many discussions online in different languages, about people around the world can not receive their postcards, or receive them very slowly, or with very ugly white stickers on their postcards.

    And the staffs of i-site or souvenir shops do not know what's the difference between "UniversalMail New Zealand Stamps" and "New Zealand Post Stamps", so why should tourists know the difference when they visit NZ for the first time???

    So Just BE careful and Don't BUY them!!

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    I bought EXPENSIVE and BEAUTIFUL "UniversalMail New Zealand Stamps" and sent postcards from Lake Tekapo.

    But UniversalMail New Zealand Stamps do not look beautiful when they arrive at their destinations.

    UniversalMail New Zealand Stamps were covered by white stickers of Singapore Post.

    And we can not remove the UGLY white stickers.

    I regret to buy UniversalMail New Zealand Stamps.

    Cause they are not beautiful now, and they were so expensive.

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    If the company can not solve the problems of their special INTERNATIONAL stamps, I hope they write some 'warning' or 'note' to let customers know their service is different from the service of regular international stamps...

    : )

    Unique Suggestions: Just BE careful and Don't BUY UniversalMail New Zealand Stamps!!

    Fun Alternatives: New Zealand Post Stamps is OK. (Please notice they are different company and offer different service!!)

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Photography
    • Backpacking

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Lake Tekapo Off The Beaten Path

  • Lake Tekapo - Lake Pukaki, a ride along...

    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...

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  • Lake Pukaki

    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.

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Lake Tekapo Favorites

  • Farming in the High-country

    Lake Tekapo is surrounded by farming stations thousands of hectares in size. The land that makes up these farms consists of both mountainous and low land areas.Glenmore Station on the western shores of Lake Tekapo, for example, covers nearly half the area of Christchurch City and varies in altitude from 700 to about 2500 metres above sea level,...

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  • Cass River and its Braided Bed

    The Cass River flows through one of those fascinating braided river beds Canterbury is famous for. The river flows into Lake Tekapo on its western shore, about half way between Lake Tekapo township and the northern tip of the lake. The upper reaches of the river are the summer pastures of the Merino sheep from Glenmore Station.

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  • Lake Tekapo and its Neighbours

    -On this photo you can see Lake Tekapo’s neighbour lakes very well. The water (including peninsula) in the foreground is Lake Tekapo, the small one above is Lake McGregor, and again above that is Lake Alexandrina. They are all great spots for trout fishing. (Plus there are many small… I would call them pools, in the area.) As I mention fishing…...

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