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Moody image of Lake Tekapo NZ


Lake Tekapo is situated midway between the International Airport in Christchurch, and New Zealand’s largest winter and summer playground, the Southern Lakes District, which includes the towns of Wanaka and Queenstown.

braided river with surrounding mountains from up above

An Untouched World

In the centre of the South Island of New Zealand lies Lake Tekapo. This highland lake and settlement at 710 metres (2300 feet) is in the heart of the Mackenzie District and is surrounded by a vast basin of golden tussock grass. Tekapo derives from the Maori words Taka (sleeping mat) and Po (night). Finely ground rock in the glacial melted waters give Lake Tekapo a beautifully unique turquoise colour.


Lake Tekapo’s geographical and central location is protected from rough coastal weather by the Southern Alps in the west, and the Two Thumb Range to the east. This allows this highland location to enjoy some of New Zealand’s highest sunshine hours and the lowest average wind speeds. Rainfall is just 575 millimetres (23 inches) annually.


Summer or winter, snow-covered or golden-yellow, the surrounding mountains and turquoise lake make a spectacular backdrop for the Church of the Good Shepherd.


The unforgettable night sky reveals why Lake Tekapo has a reputation for clear, clean air.

Nature's Jewel

The jewel of the Mackenzie Country, Lake Tekapo is a delightful alpine village in the heart of the South Island high country. A ski resort in winter and aquatic playground in summer, Lake Tekapo sits at the edge of its 20-kilometre glacial lake namesake, completely surrounded by mountains, including  New Zealand’s impressive Southern Alps.

The landscape is outstanding, sculpted by successive Ice Age glaciers, the remnants of which continue to discharge fine ‘rock flour’, giving the lake its intense turquoise hue. The 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.

Flora & Fauna

The Mackenzie Country’s Flora is characterized by open grasslands consisting mainly of golden tussocks dotted with scattered exotic trees. The surrounding mountain slopes are characterized by some native beech forests and tussock country containing occasional alpine plants. Plants to look out for include large Celmisia mountain daisies and Ranunculus buttercups. Also to be found in the area are Kowhais (Sophora sp.), which flowers in August and September, and two rare native brooms, Carmichaelia curta and C. kirkii which are both threatened species.


The nature of the climate is harsh, ranging from hot dry summers to cold frosty winters. Across it all, blow the hot, dry nor-westers that dictate as much as the stormy cold Southerlies, and heavy winter frosts, that the vegetation of the Mackenzie be hardy and drought-resistant. Despite the climate extremes, it should be noted that the area has some of the highest sunshine hours in New Zealand, and one of the lowest yearly average wind speeds.

Lake Tekapo in summer is surrounded by several hectares of Russell Lupines in attractive shades of pinks and purples. A few seeds were said to be scattered by an early run holder’s wife who wanted more colour in this barren land.


The fauna before the arrival of the Maori and the first settlers was populated by a rich variety of birdlife (as was all of New Zealand). The hunting for food and the introduction of exotic mammals such as cats, stoats, ferrets and weasels, has drastically reduced their numbers and variety. Nevertheless, a number of rare and protected birds such as kea, the New Zealand falcon, rock wrens, black stilt, wrybills, and black-fronted terns can be observed. The introduced deer, Tahr, and chamois have also found a home here and are hunted recreationally. Rabbits and possums are considered pests of the first degree and are controlled vigorously. The rivers, canals, tarns and streams are stocked with trout and salmon, providing great sport for fishermen with many world class and record fish being caught.

Where is Lake Tekapo?

Lake Tekapo is situated midway between the International Airport in Christchurch, and New Zealand’s largest winter and summer playground, the Southern Lakes District, which includes the towns of Wanaka and Queenstown.


Direct access to Tekapo can be had from State Highway 8 which connects Christchurch to Queenstown. Bus services link Lake Tekapo to all the main centres of Christchurch, Timaru, Oamaru, Dunedin, Wanaka and Queenstown.


The time in New Zealand is GMT+12.


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