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.
Church of the Good Shepherd
On the shores on the lake you'll see 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 - please note that when you visit the church, weddings and services may be taking place, respect is needed from 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 metres) or Cowans Hill.
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.