I think it is so appropriate that I am marking my 60th post on my Colours of New Zealand blog with Lake Tekapo!! I believe that the Lake Tekapo region, located in the Southern Alps on the South Island, is quite simply one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to in the world. Even though I had been told about the region, nothing can prepare you for seeing it in person. The blue of the lake, contrast with the golden grasses of the plains and white peaks of the snow capped mountains make this a truly magical place.
Lake Tekapo is the second-largest of three roughly parallel lakes running north–south along the northern edge of the Mackenzie Basin, which is almost exactly in the center of the South Island. The other 2 lakes in the basis are Lake Pukaki and Lake Ohau. It covers an area of 83 square kilometres (32 sq mi), and is at an altitude of 700 metres (2,300 ft) above sea level. Interestingly each of the 3 lakes are noticeably different in colour. According to locals this is due to the different alpine waters that feed the lakes.
Tekapo town has all types of accommodation, restaurants, cafes and a tavern. While the town is not much more than a roadstop, it does cater for everything you will need during your stay. Afterall, it really is all about the scenery anyway! Lake Tekapo is a must see in the South Island.
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. The church at Lake Tekapo was designed by Christchurch architect R.S.D. Harman, based on sketches by a local artist, Esther Hope. The church is arguably one of the most photographed in New Zealand, and features an altar window that frames stunning views of the lake and mountains.
Close to the Church of the Good Shepherd is a well-known bronze statue of a New Zealand collie sheepdog. The statue was commissioned by Mackenzie Country residents in recognition of the indispensable role of the sheepdog in their livelihoods.
Providing stunning views over Lake Tekapo is Mt John. Standing at over 1000 meters tall it is also the home to an astrological observatory which provides views to the southern hemisphere night sky. You can get to the summit of Mt John by either walking up from Tekapo town, or by driving up, after paying a $5 toll. Either way, as the pictures show, it is well worth it. When my partner and I visited we actually went up twice, once in the evening and then again in the morning. I would recommend the evening to take in the sunset views.
There is also a cafe on the summit where you can get a coffee & a snack. It seems to be run by a team of students from the Observatory, or the ones we spoke to were students, who were able to pass on some great insights to the observatory.
I would like to visit the Tekapo region again in springtime to see it in a whole different season. I would also like to do some stargazing in the evening at the observatory, which is meant to be amazing.