11 November 2022

Top Things to do in Lake Tekapo, New Zealand | Family Travel Tips

Lake Tekapo is the perfect place to go for a quick family getaway in the South Island of New Zealand. The glacier-fed blue lake is absolutely beautiful and surrounded by picturesque snow-capped mountains.

We enjoyed two nights there recently as a family. It's a very small town but it's a great place to unwind and enjoy the stunning scenery. This is a quick post sharing a few recommendations and travel tips, as well as a few photos at the end.

Where is Lake Tekapo?

Lake Tekapo is located in the beautiful Mackenzie Region, which is halfway between Christchurch and Queenstown. It's the perfect place to stop on a South Island road trip, or for a weekend getaway. It's a three-hour drive between Christchurch and Tekapo, and the same between Tekapo and Queenstown.

Top Things To Do

✔️ Cross the stunning white Lake Tekapo Footbridge to the Church of the Good Shepherd - an iconic church surrounded by beautiful nature, a popular spot for photos (but no photos are allowed inside).

✔️ Tekapo Springs is an absolute must-do. Soak in the relaxing hot pools with a great view. As a tip, pre-book in advance on bookme.co.nz for a discount.

✔️ Stroll along the lakefront and take in the incredibly blue lake surrounded by snowcapped mountains, including Mount Cook - New Zealand’s tallest mountain.

✔️ Dark Sky Project - if you’re there on a clear night (we weren’t unfortunately), it’s the most incredible place to stargaze. It’s the largest Dark Sky Reserve in the world and the first to achieve gold status.

✔️ Tekapo Mt John Walkway is a popular hike to do. It's a three-hour 8.9 km loop track with 360-degree panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, lakes and Mackenzie Basin flats.

✔️ Enjoy the great cafes and eateries to choose from. We highly recommend the Greedy Cow for coffee and brunch and Blue Lake Eatery for dinner.

✔️ There’s a cool playground (there's even a flying fox) near the lakefront and supermarket. There are sheltered picnic tables and it's such a lovely scenic spot.

✔️ If you have the time, continue on to Lake Pukaki (30 minutes drive away), another stunning lake with the most incredible turquoise water when the sun is shining. And then on to Mount Cook, my favourite place in NZ! Do the Hooker Valley Track.

A little more info:


  There is a range of accommodation types to choose from budget through to luxury. We stayed at Lake Tekapo Village Motel for two nights, which was is a great choice for families. It's in a great central location, it's affordable, clean and comfortable. We paid a bit more for an extra room and a balcony with a great view of the lake. They also provide travel cots.


  There are a dozen well-rated restaurants and eateries to choose from, a few tourist and souvenir shops as well as a large Four Square supermarket selling everything you might need. Parking is free in town and there are public toilets.


  We used Apex rental cars which was the cheapest option we found from Christchurch airport. We booked them through the AirNZ website with our flights and they were great.


  Lake Tekapo used to be an 'insta-famous' spot during lupin season. (Just google images of Lake Tekapo lupins and you'll see). Unfortunately, these very pretty pink and purple plants have all been removed (although I did spot one small patch near the bridge). Here's an article about why.

I hope you found those tips helpful! Have you been to Lake Tekapo before or is it on your NZ Bucket List? Here are a few photos to finish with:

Feel free to follow my latest adventures on Instagram.

Happy Travels,



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