Tekapo is a traveller's highlight in New Zealand in the heart of the South Island. Full of beautiful nature to explore and a vibrant little lakeside town, there's plenty to do here to fill a few days.
How to Get to Tekapo
Tekapo is situated just a 3 hours' drive west from Christchurch, near to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Plenty of buses will get you out here (Stray, Intercity or various tour companies). Alternatively you can drive yourself out here OR take a stab at hitchhiking! I hitchhiked from Tekapo to Christchurch in the summer and met some awesome locals along my route.
Where to Stay in Tekapo
The brand new YHA hostel opened up in April 2019 right on the shores of Lake Tekapo. You simply cannot beat the views out of the two-storey glass windows that bask the dining/kitchen area in light all day. Be sure to wake up early to catch an incredible lake sunrise!
Things to do in Tekapo
Hang out lakeside at Lake Tekapo
The reason most tourists come to Tekapo is to see Lake Tekapo. It's a stunning blue and is surrounded by gorgeous mountains - snowcapped and delightful in the winter time. Avoid the tourists and head down to the beach on the road before you reach the Church for the best photos.
Church of the Good Shepherd
This tiny little church of the shores of Lake Tekapo is perhaps the most photographed church in all of New Zealand, and for good reason. The quaint stone structure sits with a picturesque view of the lake and mountains behind it. Check out more information about the church here.
Dark Sky Reserve
Tekapo is an internationally accredited Dark Sky Reserve meaning that the night sky of Tekapo has been recognized by the International Dark-Sky Association as being one of the 8 best places to view the stars in the world. The observatory on Mount John is New Zealand's premier astronomical research centre. You can join a variety of night sky tours based at the Dark Sky Centre next door to YHA Tekapo.
Don't tell anyone, but I thought the stars at Mount Sunday were better!
Mount John Summit Hike
You can drive up to the observatory at Mount John for $8 per vehicle to access the road. Alternatively, save yourself some cash and get a workout in by doing the 1/2 hour hike up to the summit instead! Start at the Tekapo Hot Springs and follow the trail for Mount John summit. Enjoy the rewarding views at the top knowing you properly earned them!