This highland lake and settlement at 710 metres is in the heart of the Mackenzie District and surrounded by a vast basin of golden tussock grass. The name Tekapo derives from Maori words Taka (sleeping mat) and Po (night). The striking landscape has been sculpted by successive Ice Age glaciers, the remnants of which continue to discharge fine ‘rock flour’, giving the lake its intense turquoise hue. The night sky is huge and of extraordinary clarity, making Lake Tekapo one of the world’s best locations to probe the heavens from its observatories atop Mt John. This unforgettable night sky reveals why Lake Tekapo has a reputation for clear, clean air. The Mackenzie Country’s Flora is characterized by open grasslands consisting mainly of golden tussocks dotted with scattered exotic trees. In summer Lake Tekapo is surrounded by several hectares of Russell Lupines in attractive shades of pinks and purples.Mt Cook is only a short distance from Lake Tekapo and the cluster of New Zealand’s highest peaks border the lake and provide a beautiful backdrop to some of the best views in the world. Christchurch International airport is only a 3 hour drive away and New Zealand’s most popular tourist route, State Highway 8, passes through Lake Tekapo and provides exquisite views of New Zealand as it should be viewed, ‘naturally’.
Lake Tekapo is the ultimate alpine destination with two top class ski fields Mt Dobson and Round Hill within a short drive. Moreover, the options for the outdoor pursuits enthusiast include, trekking, hiking, golf, scenic air safaris and alpine horse trekking. Home of the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve and located on the summit of Mount John, high above Lake Tekapo, operates a scientific astronomy observatory. Earth and Sky conduct both day and night tours of the facility, including the operation of its own telescopes and a cafe on the very summit. International Dark-Sky Associations Executive Director Bob Parks remarks, “The new reserve is coming in at a ʻGoldʼ level status. To put it simply, it is one of the best stargazing sites on Earth.”
Nestled into the base of Mount John, overlooking Lake Tekapo and the mountains beyond is the Tekapo Springs, and its Winter Park. Heated alpine water supplies four large, outdoor, public hot pools. A health spa, complete with massage facilities is a great way to lose stress.