Lake Tekapo is about three hours drive south-west of Christchurch in the Mackenzie Basin. The township faces north across the remarkable turquoise coloured lake to the mountainous drama of the Southern Alps. Lake Tekapo gets its intense milky-turquoise colour from the fine rock-flour (ground by glaciers) which is suspended in the water. No matter how many bridges we crossed, and how many gorges we looked over… that gorgeous turquoise water never loses it’s appeal. It is simply breathtaking!
We arrived at the Lake on a rather stormy day. In fact, there was some drizzle falling on me even as I stood at the shore of the lake to take the above image. Ordinarily there is an incredible view of the mountains in the distance, but we could only see some faint outlines. A pity – but I really did enjoy the dramatic cloud cover and the color that it causes the lake to reflect.
While Eli napped in the backseat (he’s not a narcoleptic, I promise – he’s just a really good napper) I took some time down at the lake, all by myself, enjoying the view. This Mama Bear enjoys those quiet moments of reflection, and of course, I do love some time to take photos! How blessed am I to have a husband who sits, very patiently, and waits for me!?
Church of the Good Shepherd
On the shores we found the beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd, where the altar window frames a perfect view of the Southern Alps beyond the lake. The church was built in 1935 for the pioneer families of the Mackenzie district and is still used as a place of worship. The church is a popular photo spot for visitors.
Close by is the “sheepdog monument” – a bronze statue sculpted to recognise the district’s debt to the sheepdog “without the help of which the grazing of the mountainous country would be impossible”. There are walking tracks following the lake shore. For huge views of the Mackenzie Basin you can hike up to Mount John Observatory (1031 meters) or Cowans Hill. Although these tracks, and the thought of stargazing from Mackenzie Basin were actually quite high up on my list of things to do in New Zealand, our time was tight by this point. With a toddler to think of, we decided to skip the nighttime adventures. in hindsight, I am so glad that we did. This would have been the evening we would have come to see the stars, and LOOK AT THAT CLOUD COVER!
The Southern Lights
The southern hemisphere’s equivalent of the Northern Lights, Lake Tekapo is one of the best places in New Zealand to see this symphony of colour come to life. Best seen between April and September, Lake Tekapo is known for it’s clear nights and lack of light pollution, making it a great viewing destination. Head to Mount John Observatory – perched high in the mountains and south-facing – for your best chance of experiencing this spectacular natural light show.
Brrr… Time to Warm up!
By the time I got back to the car, I was quite cold. And YES, this was our SUMMER TRIP to New Zealand. We still can’t believe how cold it was for the majority of our journey. We were told that this was an unnaturally cold summer. Go figure, we chose the worst summer for our big exploration of this country.
While I warmed up in the car, changing out of my tights and a light shirt, into something more substantial, Justin went to check out what else this area had to offer. He really enjoyed the view of the lake from this narrow bridge…
On our way back to where we were staying, we came across this little “Texaco” collection of buildings and vintage cars. I didn’t find much information about it online, and it was closed so we couldn’t ask any questions either. We have no idea what it is for, but it was pretty awesome looking! It was still drizzling but we got out to look around and take a few photos.
It was a pity about the weather being so poor. Thankfully the storm didn’t completely roll in and we were still able to get out and explore a little. A bit of drizzle means we can still take photos and enjoy the view. It would have really been a bummer if we had driven to the lake and had to stay in our car.
A good stop, and I’m sure an amazing place to view the stars at night. Maybe someday we will return to witness the spectacular night light show from Mount John Observatory.