Ace Rental Cars Blog

48 Hours Around Lake Tekapo

Lake Takapō / Tekapo is a glacial lake in the Canterbury region of Aotearoa / New Zealand. With stunning turquoise waters and awe-inspiring landscapes, a weekend here promises serenity and adventure for a perfect getaway.

  • Mount John Observatory
  • Tekapo Springs
  • Lake Pukaki
  • Hooker Valley Track

Morning in Lake Tekapo

  • Lake Tekapo Township
  • The Church of the Good Shepherd
  • Mount John Observatory
  • Mt John Summit Circuit Track

Begin your 48-hour adventure in Lake Tekapo by exploring the township on foot. Although small, the town has beautiful scenery and a laid-back community feel. One of the most-visited attractions in Tekapo is the church that stands at the foot of the lake. The Church of the Good Shepherd boasts a beautiful stone exterior which many visitors and tourists admire, along with the backdrop of the lake and the surrounding peaks of Kā Tiritiri o te Moana / Southern Alps. Book a guided tour to explore the church’s interior and appreciate peaceful moments amongst architectural beauty. After wandering through the town, dig into an authentic New Zealand breakfast at The Greedy Cow cafe before heading up the access road to Ōtehīwai / Mount John. Here, you’ll get panoramic views of the picturesque Mackenzie Basin, Lake Takapō’s turquoise waters and the expansive mountain range. Drink in the view with a coffee from Astro Cafe or tramp the Mt John Summit Circuit Track. Visit the Dark Sky Project website for Astro Cafe and Mount John Access Road opening hours.

Relax and Unwind Under the Stars

  • Tekapo Springs
  • International Dark Sky Reserve
  • Stargazing Tour

After your morning hike or stroll around Mount John’s 1,029m high peak, drive back down the mountain in your Ace rental car to reach the Tekapo Springs recreation centre. Here, swim in cool pools, feel your worries melt away in the steam room and sauna, or luxuriate with a treatment at the Glacial Day Spa. Take a break from adventuring with a relaxing afternoon by the waterfront and cheers to your scenic holiday with a drink at the Altitude 720 Cafe and Bar. Time for lunch? From Buddha bowls to fish and chips, the Altitude Cafe also offers a seasonal menu to suit every appetite. Once the sun has set, an abundance of bright stars light up the sky over Tekapo. Awarded the title of the largest International Dark Sky Reserve in the world, the Aoraki Mackenzie region is blessed with dark and pure night skies. The area is free of light pollution, meaning it’s the best place in the country to stargaze. Pull out a picnic rug and enjoy the cosmic views from the comfort of your car or accommodation, or head out on a unique stargazing tour, exclusive to Takapō.

Lake Pukaki - Hooker Valley

  • Lake Pukaki
  • Aoraki / Mount Cook
  • Hooker Valley Track

Start your second day in Tekapo bright and early with another stroll around the township before heading to Lake Pukaki - a 30-minute drive in your Ace rental car. Pukaki is even larger than Lake Tekapo and boasts views of Aoraki / Mount Cook - the highest mountain in the country. You can take a dip in the lake, but ensure you’re prepared for the icy chill of the glacial waters. Lake Pukaki and its surrounding viewpoints and walking tracks provide the perfect opportunity for visitors to test out their photography skills. A further 30 minutes north, take a scenic drive up to the Hooker Valley Track, toward the Canterbury / West Coast regional border. The track is a 10 km return tramp, which takes about three hours to complete. The trail passes over the Hooker River and past three swing bridges before reaching Hooker Lake where you’ll turn back for the return trek. With stunning views of breathtaking landscapes, it’s worth bringing along a journal or sketchbook to unleash your creative artistry inspired by the scenery.

Local Cuisine and Farewell

  • The Hermitage Hotel
  • Petronella’s Gallery and Bookstore

Following your mid-morning stroll or hike around Lake Pukaki and through the Hooker Valley, treat yourself to a delicious lunch at the Hermitage Hotel in Mount Cook. Enjoy a flavorful lunch fare with views of Aoraki at the Sir Edmund Hillary Cafe. You’re in for a tasty treat in this light-filled cafe with sourdough pizza, fish and chips, and burgers on the menu. The Hermitage also offers pub-style meals at the Chamois Bar & Grill if you’re craving something heartier for dinner. Unwind with a drive back to Lake Tekapo in the evening. Take some time to reflect on your scenic journey and perhaps jot down your favourite memories in a journal before ending your holiday here. Visit Petronella’s Gallery and Bookstore to pick up a gift or souvenir to commemorate your trip and let the beautiful views and atmosphere of Takapō be immersed in your memories.

From the bustling township to a breathtaking night sky, an escape to Lake Tekapo will leave you with memories of dazzling views and unique adventures.

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