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Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is one of New Zealand's sunniest places
The turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is a small town in the South Island, about a 3-hour drive mainly west of Christchurch. As the name suggests, the town is on the shore of beautiful Lake Tekapo, which is one of New Zealand's famous lakes. Lake Tekapo is the fourth sunniest spot in New Zealand with an average of 6.6 sunshine hours per day. 

However, Tekapo (as it is often called, so as to distinguish the town from the lake) is by no means a warm part of New Zealand. Lake Tekapo doesn't get much above about 14 degrees Celsius (58 degrees Fahrenheit) or below about 3 degrees Celsius (38 degrees Fahrenheit).

With just over 500 inhabitants, Tekapo is a quiet spot but there is much to see and do here in the Mackenzie Basin. The name comes from the Maori taka meaning sleeping mat and po which is night.

The town of Lake Tekapo has very clear air and, being so rural, little light pollution. This makes it ideal for stargazing, and the town has an observatory for that purpose that visitors can take nighttime tours of. Other tourist attractions are the ski fields about 30 km from Lake Tekapo, and the natural thermal spa, the Tekapo Hot Springs. These have modern hot pools as well as an ice rink in winter and a waterslide in summer.

The Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of the lake dates from 1935. There are superb views of the lake and mountains from the altar window. Nearby is a statue of a New Zealand Collie sheepdog commissioned by local residents to pay homage to the dogs that make it possible to graze sheep here.

The Church of the Good Shepherd.
The Church of the Good Shepherd

Access - Getting There

From Christchurch, Tekapo is 227 km on State Highway 8 runs and 256 km from Queenstown. The drive from both places takes about three hours, and 30 minutes. From Lake Tekapo Airport Air Safaris operates charter flights over the Southern Alps.


Places to stay include the Godley Hotel offering country-style accommodation in 58 rooms and the luxury Galaxy Boutique Hotel. There are superb views over the lake from the hotel which is close to the Church of the Good Shepherd.

Tekapo Heights offers rooms with a private patio some with great views of the lake.

See a complete list of accommodation in Lake Tekapo.

Tekapo Observatory part of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.
Tekapo Observatory part of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve

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