LAKE TEKAPO – TURQUOISE WATERS AND DARK SKY STARGAZING 

Tekapo Lake View

Lake Tekapo lies in the heart of the Mackenzie Country, in New Zealand’s central South Island also known as The Mainland. Christchurch International Airport is only a 3 hour drive away along New Zealand’s most popular tourist route, State Highway 8. This means visitors can enjoy exquisite views of the countryside along the way. The route to Tekapo not only promises a stunning destination, but also delivers breathtaking scenery on the journey. Take in pastoral, green landscapes, rugged mountains and, of course, the famous turquoise waters of the lake itself. By night, the dark sky around Lake Tekapo sets the scene for stargazing without equal. From earth to sky, Tekapo and surroundings boast unrivalled attractions that no visitor will forget. 

MacKenzie Basin: tranquil scenery of the High Country 

The first inhabitants of Mackenzie Basin were Maori who traditionally established summer camps along the rivers and lakes. MacKenzie Basin received this name when the sheep-stealing shepherd Jock Mackenzie was caught trying to hide his stolen flocks there in the mid 1800’s. With its location between the mountains of the South Island, MacKenzie Basin is the heart of New Zealand’s high country. Traditionally the area consisted of sheep farms, but today it is also a hub for hydroelectricity and, increasingly, tourism.  

A flock of sheep grazing on a grassy green hill

Tekapo, the lake of turquoise blue

Lake Tekapo lies like a turquoise jewel framed against the dramatic backdrop of the Southern Alps and Mount Cook. Its trademark is the intense milky turquoise colour of the water. This vivid hue comes from rock particles that glaciers ground to a fine, flour-like powder over centuries. Purple lupin flowers grow wild around the lake, adding more vivid colour to the serene scenery. Keep your camera handy to capture some of the best views in the world!

Stargazing at the Aoraki MacKenzie International Dark Sky Reserve

The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve at Lake Tekapo is part of the UNESCO Dark Sky project. In fact, this is the largest such project in the world, and has a gold star status. Thanks to the isolation of the area, pristine night skies form a perfect backdrop for viewing the stars. This stargazing mecca is the envy of astronomers all over the world, and it will truly change the way you see the stars.

Stars in a dark sky

The Church of the Good Shepherd: alpine views beside Lake Tekapo

The famous Church of the Good Shepherd is situated on the shores of Lake Tekapo. Here you can get a perfect view of the Southern Alps from the altar window. Just the spot for a unique photo! Close by you will find the “sheepdog monument”, a bronze tribute to the sheepdogs of Mackenzie country. Without these trusted animals, it would have been impossible to graze the mountainous terrain.

Things to see and do around Tekapo: 

  • Go star gazing at the University of Canterbury’s Mt John Observatory or Cowan’s Observatory near the Good Shepherd. 
  • Soak in the hot pools at Tekapo Springs, or treat yourself to the day spa, sauna or steam room
  • Take the breathless 150 metre slope down Tube Park
  • Have some fun at the ice skating rink
  • See Mount Cook (Aoraki in Maori) and the Westland National Parks from the sky by taking a scenic flight over the area

Your visit to Tekapo will be packed with adventure and scenes of unsurpassed beauty that will create nostalgic memories for years to come.

Tekapo Lake Good Shepherd Church Stargazimg Observatory
Stars in a dark sky at Good Shepherd Church, Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

Experience Lake Tekapo and its Highland Country Surroundings

Lake Tekapo and its surroundings offer an abundance of amazing things to see and do. Since stargazing is such a highlight, this is one destination where you will definitely want to stay overnight.

Our adventure-packed Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo 2-day tour combines this unforgettable location with New Zealand’s highest mountain. This is the perfect opportunity to take in the highlights of the South Island, with a wide variety of activities that will thrill your senses and calm you mind. Feel free to contact us for details.

With so much to explore in this fascinating region, you just might have a unique itinerary of your own in mind. To design a bespoke tour with the guidance and insider expertise of our professional tour guides, learn more about our custom and private tours here.