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