Lake Tekapo is definitely one of the most picturesque alpine villages you’ll come across in New Zealand, let alone most of the world – but then again most small towns surrounded by beautiful landscapes and mountains undoubtedly are exactly that, picturesque!
Tekapo has become famous for its teal blue coloured lakes (as you can see from the pics below), which have been created by tiny particles of rock washing down from the glaciers. The Mackenzie Region (Tekapo in particular) is also a Aoraki International Dark Sky Reserve and is the southern hemisphere’s only dark sky reserve, and the world’s biggest! Basically this means in this part of the world the skies are darker, clearer and offer very limited if any light pollution which allow an incredible amount of starts to be viewed by the naked eye. Trust us when we say you would never see stars like you would here, it is honestly so amazing you will never forget the experience!
With Mount John Observatory, you have the opportunity to book in a night-tour (i mean actual night tour, 9pm/10/11/12am/1am) to learn more about the Stars & Astronomy in general, it’ll also help you if you’re wanting to learn how to photograph Stars & the Milky Way [astrophotography]. This can be booked via the main Village, you can’t miss the signs for the bookings area just after the main shops.
This world-renowned lake if also famous for wild flowering lupins in a beautiful purple, pink and blue in early summer, add the amazing walks, incredible food, hot springs, the famous The Church of the Good Shepherd and incredibly friendly locals you will want to come back after your first time again and again.
Getting around is very easy, you can see how small the town and its highly likely you’ve got a car so it won’t be hard to explore and get around. The Church of the Good Shepherd pictured above is literally few minutes from the main town. The Observatory as you can see from the pictures below is about a 10-15m drive way and very well signed, we would suggest you make the trip up and enjoy the view and take as many pictures as you possibly can and take it all in! Don’t forget as mentioned above ,there are tours to return at night which we would recommend for those wanting to understand how to photograph the stars / milky way and learn further about the sky & stars itself – oh and no, we didn’t attend one sorry. Simply because i am thankful to have learnt from experience (still learning!) how to photograph our starry night skies.
How DARK are the skies? Below, 1 photo from Lora standing holding an LED Torch on the side of the road about 4kms from where we were staying, the second is the same as above The Church of the Good Shepherd under the starry sky!
The view from Mount John Observatory Hill is incredible, showcasing not only Tekapo Village but Lake Tekapo and surround snow capped (in our instance) mountains. We will be back for winter with hopefully some more updated photos to share as well.
Being such a small town you instantly think, is there actually anything to do here? If you’re considering at trip to the South Island of New Zealand you are already aware that this island is all about natural beauty, landscapes, wildlife and exploring.
Starting from the beautiful Lake Tekapo or Alexandrina you will be easily amazed on the unbelievable landscapes and backdrops, combined with cute wildlife like our little hedgehog friends that we rescued (apparently a pest? crazy i know).
It is a destination that can be visited in any season, during Autumn the beautiful yellow willow trees fringe along the lakes, and in winter the Mountains covered in snow to offer a an incredible experience for any type of traveller.
What to do in Tekapo (in brief)
- Mt John Observatory – head up during the day to experience the view of the top of the Hill as pictured below in the gallery. Also a nice little cafe for probably the most epic lunch or breakfast view you’ll get!
- Tekapo Star Gazing – book in for a night star gazing tour, you will be astonished on the amount of stars visible with the naked eye here! This can be done so as mentioned above near the shops on the left side. Very well sign posted, you can’t miss it or book online if you want to plan ahead – our tip is book whilst there as the weather does change often.
- Air Safaris – basically a heli or plane tour that goes right across to Mt Cook, Franz Josef and so on. The choice is really yours and comes down to your budget, if you can stretch the budget as lets be honest it isn’t cheap it is worthwhile and recommended.
- Tekapo Springs – get into your swimmers and soak in beautiful warm water to relax and unwind. Located just near the main village area! Better yet, go at night and you can do the Hot Springs whilst Star Gazing!
The Church of the Good Shepherd – located near all the main town, very quaint, small and beautiful it is probably one of the most photographed Churches in the world.
Photos! – Get out there, look at the lake, go explore, anywhere you are you will see how incredible the landscape, scenery and wildlife is!
Where to eat in Tekapo
Why are we meaning food for such a small town? Well we were quite surprised for only a few small selection of cafes and restaurants all were exceptionally good! You can’t go wrong with what you choose, all we suggest is try eat some local produce! Oh and the coffee in the morning is quite good also! Don’t stay in your hotel, venture out! Discover and explore Lake Tekapo! Our favourite place that we had to return to was Reflections Restaurant, and their food and service is brilliant and we would highly recommend to eat here if you want to try the local produce inc wines.
Where to stay in Tekapo?
There are quite a lot of options that cater for all budgets, we stayed luckily in Peppers each time we were in Tekapo and were very happy with the service and our room(s). However you do have a variety of accommodation to choose from, anything from backpackers hotels, local family owned bed & breakfasts and larger hotels. A quick google search and you’ll find something very nice and within your holiday budget!