Destination Pure New Zealand Travel Rambles Travel Tips

Explore Lake Tekapo – Land of Dreams

I was on a quest, seeking the wonders of aurora. Upon arrival at the destination of my dreams, I felt so happy and thankful that it no longer matters if I see the aurora. One cold, windy night, I stood atop Mount John at the observatory centre. The sky was littered with stars.

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My first shooting star on screen! I wish for… …

Staring into the far, a tour participant asked a question that has been on my mind: “Will we get to see the aurora tonight?” The guide replied, “There’s probably a 50-50 chance that the aurora is happening at this moment but we can’t see it with the naked human eye.” Words of the Little Prince echoed in my head:

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” 

laket_yhaLeaving a part of me behind. 

No, I didn’t see the aurora in the end. But, I am happy and grateful of the chance to be at this lovely destination. I swore to myself that I will be back some day.

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Lake Tekapo:)

And so, here’s a tribute to Lake Tekapo.  Read on for all things fun to explore/do (during winter season). I hope you like this quaint village as much as I do.

Things to Do

Be charmed by the Church of the Good Shepherd. Step into the cosy little chapel and indulge in old charms. Built in 1935, this used to be a place of worship for the pioneer families of the Mackenzie country. With the breathtaking blue lake and snowcapped mountains as a backdrop, it is no wonder that this historic Church of the Good Shepherd is a common postcard image!

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Church of the Good Shepherd

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Chapel’s Interior

I arrived on a sunny, windy day. As I skipped my way to the chapel with a huge, cheesy smile (I couldn’t help it!), I cannot help but to think of this quaint little church as an ideal wedding venue! Apparently, I was not the only one who thought so. A fellow traveller whom I met at the hostel has the same thoughts too! 🙂 Free-thinkers who wish to get married in this chapel would be happy to know that all couples (regardless of your religion) can get married here.

A few steps down the road sits the “Sheep Dog Statue”, which was erected in 1968. Built as a tribute to the collie dog that helped graze this mountain country.

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Relax under a blanket of stars or partake in astrophotography! If you are a fan of stars (like me!), you would be delighted to know that Lake Tekapo has one of the world’s clearest, darkest and most spectacular night skies!

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Sheep Dog Statue at Lake Tekapo.

To know more about astronomy, an observatory twilight tour operated by Earth & Sky at the Mount John Research Observatory is highly recommended! Amid the spectacular night sky, stars were identified and pointed out with the use of a laser beam! For a moment, I felt as if I have been transported into a Harry Potter scene. Surreal but oh so wonderful! For private astrophotography session, do check out Fraser Gunn.

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Go on a walking trail & rediscover yourself in nature! The walkways of Lake Tekapo offer an opportunity to enjoy the open spaces and magnificent scenery of the region. There are approximately 9 recommended tracks, ranging from 30minutes to 3.5hours.

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Be careful of rabbit holes when walking! I stumbled and fell a few times!

One sunny afternoon, I walked along the lake and made my way towards the Pines Beach. Along the way, I cannot help but to stop every few seconds, as I was distracted. Being in New Zealand has opened my eyes to nature. These days, even weeds small flowers along the road seem to be fascinating.

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Mount John Walkway

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Wintery trees that look hauntingly beautiful.

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Indulge in delicious authentic Japanese food! Tucked away in a small corner of this little but larger-than-life town (I admit I am biased!), the Kohan restaurant is a must-visit if you enjoy good food as much as I do. Expect fresh sweetness from fish/meat meals, tasty green tea and delectable homemade ice cream. Be it the Kohan Bento or popular Salmon Don, I guarantee you will not regret stepping into this spacious, sunny restaurant.

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Kohan Goodness!

Nearby, the Mackenzie’s Café Bar & Grill serves one of the best and freshest fish & chips that I’ve ever tasted!

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Fresh fish & chips from Mackenzie’s Café Bar & Grill! Yummy!

Catch a sunrise reflecting upon the beautiful lake. I doubt I’d ever be tired of staring into the deep blue. Despite the cold weather, I cannot seem to stay away from the water. Every morning, I rolled out of bed and make my way to the edge of the lake… waiting. My reward came in the form of a beautiful sunrise, from behind the snowcapped mountains. Good morning, Tekapo!!!!!!!!!

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Contemplate / Reflect

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PS: Not an early riser? The beautiful lake is great for admiring or contemplation at any time of the day, as long as weather permits. 🙂

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Tekapo Springs is your place for fun and relaxation! Think hot pools, day spa, ice-skating and snow tubing! Available only during the winter season, snow tubing has transformed me into a shrieking kid, spinning down a snowy slope. For my last ride, the attendant said, “I’ll give you a huge spin!” and Gosh! I have never been spun so! 😀 Soaking in the outdoor hot pools (no time limit!) was a great experience too!

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Snow tubing! Going belly down is less harmful for the back and more exciting!

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Tip: Check out the combo deals to get the best value. If you are going for the hot pools, bring your own towel to save NZD5!

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Good to Know

  • Temperature ranges between 8 -10 degrees on average
  • Permanent population is approximately 318 (I wished I am #319)
  • Visited by thousands of international & domestic tourists per year
  • 3 hours ride away from Queenstown or Christchurch
  • A rest stop for buses enroute to Queenstown and Christchurch
  • Shops & restaurants are lined in just one street – known as Village Centre
  • There’s only one ATM and petrol station in this small town
  • This is rabbit land… so watch out for rabbit holes!
  • For good value accommodation, check out private double room of YHA Tekapo.

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Cosy lounge area of YHA

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The above information has been complied based on various sources, including my own experience and should only be used as a reference. Check out http://www.tekapotourism.co.nz/ for more information on Lake Tekapo, Canterbury, New Zealand. 

2 comments on “Explore Lake Tekapo – Land of Dreams

  1. Rufus Girard

    You really have captured the spirit of this country! r.

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