Time out in Lake Tekapo
EXPLORE LAKE TEKAPO!
If you have a day up your sleeve to explore Lake Tekapo you will find some tips below on how to make the most of your time there.
The drive to Lake Tekapo from Lakestone Lodge is a short one just over 30 minutes and it is a beautiful drive around Lake Pukaki then through the farming country of the Mackenzie Highlands.
The Church from the photos!
One of the highlights of this picturesque village is the much photographed church of the good shepherd. This cute church sits on the edge of Lake Tekapo and allows church goers a view to the lake through the glass window at the front of the church. If photography is your thing then the sunrises and sunsets over the lake are the perfect time to catch a magic shot of this little gem. It definitely pays to make an early morning visit to this church as given its convenient location just off State Highway 8 it can get pretty busy here during the day.
Time it right in December and you will be in time to see the lupins in full bloom
Views for days
View west towards the Southern Alps
From here head to the Tekapo Springs, past the camping ground there is a sign for Mt John Observatory walk. Mt John Observatory is owned by Canterbury University and is New Zealand's premier research observatory as well as a spectacular attractions both for the vistas on display during the day and the amazing views of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve at night. The walk up to the observatory is a great walk to get the heart rate up with a steady uphill climb but the views from the top are definitely worth it with 360 degree views all over the Mackenzie Basin you can see mountains everywhere you look . Plus it's always good to reward yourself with coffee and a cake from the Astro cafe located at the top of the hill. Assuming you are not in a hurry I would recommend taking the longer way down via the lakeshore track which provides unobstructed views of the lake and mountains the whole way back down. For me this was definitely the preferred route as I like to get the uphill over with as quickly as possible then enjoy the trip back down but some people still choose the longer uphill option and a short downhill so it is up to you!
Slightly more adventurous walking up in winter but the snowy mountains are breathtaking
Time for a soak
Relaxing view from Tekapo Springs
I am usually feeling quite virtuous by now having completed a decent walk and its great to top it off with a dip in the hot pools at Tekapo Springs. The have five different temperature pools to choose from although I haven't yet been brave enough to dip anymore than my toe in the coldest of the five. The views from the pool of the mountains and Lake Tekapo are pretty spectacular. These can be quite crazy during school holidays so if you are able to chose the time you come I would avoid this period. They also have a day spa if you want to indulge in a massage.
Some delish dishes
If you wanted to make a longer day of it you could do the walk later in the afternoon then after the hot pools head out for dinner in Lake Tekapo my choice is Kohan, a Japanese restaurant which does fantastic fresh and authentic Japanese food this is a popular choice for both locals and visitors who often come by the bus load. It always pays to make a reservation for dinner as numbers can be quite unpredictable.
By now it should be heading towards dark and a great chance to check out the amazing stars over Lake Tekapo. Not something you want to do during a full moon as it can dull the experience somewhat. There are two places you can do this - the most well known is with Earth and Sky who run the star tours on Mt John. This is a great, informative tour for people who really want to learn about the night sky.
The other option which has recently opened is at Tekapo Springs so if you didn't get a chance in the hot pools earlier in the day this is a great chance to try them out. I felt they provide a great introductory level tour of the stars then you can hop in the hot pools, lie back in an inflatable lounging device and enjoy the stars in your own time - a pretty magical experience!