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Lake Tekapo Guide

Located in the South Island, in the heart of Mackenzie Country, the stunning Lake Tekapo lies just a short distance from Lake Pukaki, Mt Cook and New Zealand’s highest peaks providing breath-taking views and ample photo opportunities. Lake Tekapo is the highest (710m) and largest of 3 lakes in the MacKenzie area (the others are Lake Ohau and Lake Pukaki). Tekapo means ‘night sleep place’ in Maori, derived from the words ‘taka’ or ‘teka’ (sleeping mat) and ‘po’ (night).

Lake Tekapo is a spectacular turquoise blue in colour caused by finely ground glacial rock that’s fed into the lake via rivers from the Southern Alps; and is reputed to have one of the clearest night skies in the world.

On the lake shores you will find two iconic features; a dog statue - which is dedicated to the working collie dogs of the MacKenzie Country; and the Church of the Good Shepherd which was built in 1935. It was the first church in the area and is now a favourite location for weddings (just in case you meet someone nice on your travels).

Population: 360 permanent residents.

Vibe: Low-key South Island gem.

Known for: It's incredibly blue lake and it's seasonal lupins!

Must Do: Hike up to the Mt John Observatory or, for a more relaxing experience, soak in the Tekapo Hotsprings.

Lake Tekapo Lupins min


Chill out in the Tekapo Springs

No matter the season, you can get involved with heaps of amazing activities at Tekapo Springs. From relaxing in hot pools, to stargazing to ice skating and snow tubing - you can easily pass an entire afternoon here!

Visit the Church of the Good Shepherd

Located on the shores of Lake Tekapo in front of an incredible backdrop of mountains and the lake, the Church of the Good Shepherd was built as a memorial to the pioneers of the Mackenzie Country. It's one of the most photographed spots in New Zealand, so make sure you get your shot!

Lake Tekapo Mt John Walk

Hike to the Mount John Observatory

If you want a serious walk take the track to the summit of Mount John that starts next to Tekapo Springs. It will take you about an hour and a half to complete the steep summit track so make sure you're wearing the right shoes. At the top of Mt John you'll find a cafe, observatory and viewing platform with amazing 360 degree panoramic views of the Mackenzie Basin flats, surrounding mountains and lakes. 

See Lake Tekapo for yourself!

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tekapo springs

Tekapo Springs

Tekapo Springs has entertainment for everyone! There are hot pools, an ice skating rink and a snow tubing park in a picturesque location!

lake tekapo summit mt john

Mt John Hike

Get amazing 360 degree panoramic views of the Mackenzie Basin flats, surrounding mountains and lakes at the summit of Mt John.