Lake Tekapo Activities & Tours Zealand/LakeTekapo/Activities/01.jpg

Lake Tekapo Activities & Tours

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Lake Tekapo Activities

There are various things to do in Mackenzie Country. Compared to a town like Queenstown that has hundreds of activities, Lake Tekapo appears relatively dull. However when you compare Tekapo to many nearby towns (e.g. Twizel, Fairlie) it becomes more apparent that Lake Tekapo is very well set up for tourists.

During winter the main activity is skiing or snowboarding at one of the four nearby ski fields.

Ski Tours and Activities

New Zealand heli skiing is an essential part of any great NZ ski holiday. Mt Cook Heliski (formerly called Wilderness Heliski) provide 5 run packages in the famous Mt Cook region with runs that are higher and longer than those offered by heliski operators in the Queenstown and Wanaka region. The heli skiing is guided by Alpine Guides, the pioneers of New Zealand heli skiing, with tours leaving from the Mt Cook airport, about one hour drive from Tekapo.

Departing from the Mt Cook airport, Alpine Guides also lead the awesome Ski the Tasman tours. These trips offer a completely unique opportunity for intermediates to go heli skiing on the Tasman Glacier. Or Mt Cook Ski Planes offer plane skiing or snowboarding. A fixed wing aircraft is used to land on the Tasman Glacier for two super long ski runs (8-10km long) that are appropriate for intermediate riders and above. Skiing is really only a small part of the experience with the grandeur of the Tasman Glacier being the main event.

Alpine Recreation (based in Tekapo) offers a range of alpine, telemark and Nordic ski tours. They lead various multi-day ski touring trips for advanced to expert skiers with high levels of fitness and ski touring experience.

Tekapo Springs - Activity Central

Tekapo Springs is located above the shores of Lake Tekapo, a couple of kilometres from the centre of town. The complex houses multiple amenities so it’s a central hub for down-day activities or après activities. The Tekapo Springs facility has a range of hot pools that range in temperature from 36-40 degrees Celsius. One pool is suitable for children with a beach entry and shallow water, and there is also an adults only pool for some peace and serenity (although sometimes the pools get very crowded). Despite being called “springs", the hot pools are not natural thermal sulphur pools, so they don’t provide any therapeutic benefits beyond that of the hot water. The pools overlook the lake and mountains, so the setting is rather nice. They have various combo passes and discounted return passes available, and if you plan to stay for a while there’s a café for meals and refreshments.

You can top off the relaxation with arrange of treatments from the day spa. I’ve had a massage at the Tekapo Springs day spa. The tariffs seemed a little steep and the quality of the experience lacked the finesse or expertise that you’d expect of a massage service calling itself a day spa. Listening to the yahooing going on out in the hot pools wasn’t particularly relaxing either!

Tekapo Springs has an ice-skating rink on site. This is a great activity for the family. Skate rental is available.

Adjacent to the rink is a snowpark which is essentially a small tubing and tobogganing hill made from artificial snow. There’s now a magic carpet to get up the hill, and this makes for great giggles for the kids (and the young at heart).

Leisure Activities in Tekapo

Taking a look at the Church of the Good Shepherd and the famous sheep dog statue on the shores of Lake Tekapo may only take 5 minutes, but it seems to be a mandatory experience whilst in the area.

Sight seeing from the air is also a very popular activity whilst in Tekapo. Tekapo Helicopters offer a range of scenic flights of the region across Mt Cook and the Tasman Glacier. On longer trips they also cover the Fox and Franz Glaciers. All their scenic flights land on the snow long enough to allow you to take photos of the majestic Southern Alps and get very snap happy.

Air Safaris at Lake Tekapo offer 50 minute scenic flights over some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery. These operate from the Lake Tekapo airport, a 2 minute drive south of the Tekapo township. 

The Tekapo area has beautiful clear night skies and as such it’s become an epicentre of astronomy activity. You can do a DIY tour of the night sky, or check it out with Earth and Sky Tours at the observatory atop Mount John. In addition to night tours to study the stars and planets through a range of telescopes, you can also visit during the day for a tour of the observatory and enjoy lunch in the café at the summit of Mt John. It’s 10 minutes out of town and they offer shuttles from town if you don’t have your own car.

There are various hiking opportunities around the Tekapo area, which include hikes up to and around the Mt John observatory. You can get a map of the Tekapo walking tracks from one of the hotels or the information centre.