Lake Tekapo is a stunning glacial lake located on the South Island of New Zealand, renowned for its mesmerizing turquoise-blue waters and picturesque surroundings. Here are 10 detailed facts about Lake Tekapo.
Lake Tekapo’s natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and astronomical wonders make it a must-visit destination for travellers exploring New Zealand’s South Island. Whether you’re interested in stargazing, hiking, or simply enjoying the serene atmosphere, Lake Tekapo has something to offer everyone!
- Origin and Formation: Lake Tekapo is a glacial lake that was formed during the last ice age when glaciers carved out the Mackenzie Basin. It is part of a series of lakes in the region, including Lake Pukaki and Lake Ohau.
- Maori Connection: The name “Tekapo” has Maori origins, with “Taka” meaning “mat” and “Po” meaning “night.” According to Maori legend, the lake was named after a blanket (mat) that a chief’s daughter dropped on her journey to the mountains, and it turned into a lake.
- Incredible Water Clarity: Lake Tekapo is known for its exceptionally clear water, which is a result of the finely ground rock particles, known as glacial flour or rock flour, suspended in the water. This rock flour scatters sunlight and gives the lake its signature turquoise colour.
- Stunning Night Skies: The area around Lake Tekapo is a designated International Dark Sky Reserve, making it one of the best places for stargazing in the Southern Hemisphere. The absence of light pollution allows for excellent views of the night sky, and it’s home to the Mount John Observatory.
- Church of the Good Shepherd: On the shores of Lake Tekapo, you’ll find the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd. Built-in 1935, it’s one of New Zealand’s most photographed churches and offers breathtaking views of the lake and the Southern Alps.
- Mount John University Observatory: Situated atop Mount John overlooking Lake Tekapo, this observatory is operated by the University of Canterbury. It’s a world-renowned location for astronomical research and public stargazing tours.
- Flora and Fauna: Lake Tekapo and its surroundings are home to various plant and animal species. You can find introduced species like salmon and rainbow trout in the lake, and the shoreline features native New Zealand plants.
- Recreational Activities: Visitors to Lake Tekapo can enjoy a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and kayaking. The lake’s pristine waters are ideal for both beginners and experienced kayakers.
- Tourist Attractions: Besides stargazing and the Church of the Good Shepherd, tourists can explore the nearby Mount Cook National Park, which offers numerous hiking trails and opportunities to see New Zealand’s highest peak, Mount Cook (Aoraki).
- Climate: Lake Tekapo experiences a continental climate with cold winters and warm summers. In winter, the lake often freezes at its edges, creating a unique and picturesque landscape. Summers are ideal for outdoor activities, with temperatures ranging from 20-25°C.
Where to stay
Just over an hour from the Dark Sky Reserve, Comfort Hotel Benvenue in nearby Timaru is also a close stroll to beautiful Caroline Bay.