Hotels in Lake Tekapo Village (South Island, New Zealand)

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Hotels in Lake Tekapo Village

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Enjoy stargazing, amazing scenery and outdoor activities in Lake Tekapo

Situated amid unspoiled highlands in New Zealand’s beautiful South Island and beside the huge turquoise lake that shares its name, Lake Tekapo is a small town and holiday resort offering a selection of hotels and eateries. Sat on the picturesque route between Christchurch and all-action Queenstown, Lake Tekapo boasts a pretty lakeside church and resides in the world’s largest dark skies reserve, where the stars are clearly visible without light pollution. Facing an unrivalled backdrop of the Southern Alps across the water, Lake Tekapo is also a launchpad for boat trips, scenic flights and outdoor pursuits, including skiing and walking.

Attractions on your doorstep

Nestled in the heart of the South Island, Lake Tekapo offers visitors plenty to see and do before or after they delve into the delights of its hinterland. If you want to refuel before taking on some strenuous activities around Lake Tekapo, then visit one of the town’s eateries, which include Chinese, Japanese and Italian restaurants plus pubs and cafes. Alternatively, if you want to soothe aches and pains acquired in the great outdoors, leave your hotel and go to Tekapo Springs. This spa boasts thermal outdoor pools facing the lake and it also offers traditional spa treatments, a sauna and steam room plus seasonal tubing and ice-skating.

Combining superb scenery with a sunnier than average climate for New Zealand, Lake Tekapo is a growing hub for hotels and holiday homes. Its growth from a remote settlement in the thinly-populated Mackenzie Country area began in the 1930s when hydropower schemes attracted newcomers. One of the first structures they built is the Church of the Good Shepherd, named among the most photographed buildings in the country. This attractive stone-built church is an interdenominational place of worship, and has long been a magnet for tourist buses traversing State Highway 8, which passes through Lake Tekapo. Don’t miss the heaven-sent view from the altar window inside. Surely one of the finest views from any church anywhere, it perfectly frames stunning panoramas of the lake in the foreground and snow-capped mountains in the background. Nearby, dog lovers can admire a bronze monument of a collie sheepdog, which is dedicated to the canines that helped their masters settle this isolated corner of the Canterbury region.

Savour captivating scenery

Spellbinding scenery is New Zealand’s hallmark, and the country’s raw natural beauty is abundant around Lake Tekapo. Travellers can explore the lake on a boat cruise for a closer look at lonely Motuariki Island and the magnificent Godley Valley at the head of the lake, where meltwater from glaciers in the Southern Alps feeds in from the Godley River. Those with a bigger budget for excursions can head to Lake Tekapo Airport to charter a pilot for a scenic plane, helicopter or glider flight. From the air, visitors can enjoy a different perspective on the upland basin of Mackenzie Country with its sheep farms, lofty surrounding mountain peaks and milky blue lakes tinted by finely ground rock particles gouged out by glaciers.

Coloured an even milkier shade of blue, serene Lake Pukaki can be reached in roughly 30 minutes’ drive from your hotel in Lake Tekapo. Offering tremendous views of New Zealand’s highest peak - the 3,724-metre Aoraki/Mount Cook - from its southern shore, this spectacular and vibrantly-coloured lake was chosen as the location for Laketown in Kiwi director Peter Jackson’s screen adaptation of The Hobbit by J.R.R.Tolkein. Tasman Downs Station on the lakeshore appeared in The Desolation of Smaug as an extensive outdoor set, while nearby Braemar Station featured during a chase scene in An Unexpected Journey . There are also filming locations featured in battle scenes in Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy just to the south-west of the lake. It’s possible to drive along Lake Pukaki’s western shore using State Highway 80. There’s also a minor road on the opposite side that walkers and cyclists can follow to immerse themselves in the unforgettable scenery.

Get active

Experiencing warm summers and cold winters, Lake Tekapo is perfect for enjoying outdoor activities all year round. Summertime visitors can leave their hotels and go trout fishing or bird-watching at beautiful Lake Alexandrina, a shallow lake that lies just west of Lake Tekapo. Alternatively, there are walking trails galore like the Tekapo Trek taking hikers into pristine backcountry.

When the snow comes, the area around Lake Tekapo becomes a winter sports playground. Walkers can strap on their snowshoes and follow single or multi-day trails taking them up above the snowline. Meanwhile, skiers and snowboarders can hurtle down the slopes at the Roundhill Ski Area about 40 minutes’ drive to the north. With 14 runs and numerous lifts, its slopes cater for novices and experts. About one hour’s drive away, Mount Dobson ski resort is another popular choice for winter sports enthusiasts.

See the stars

After dark, the skies above Lake Tekapo brim with stars. Due to the area’s clean, dry and dark sky, it has become the world’s biggest International Dark Skies Association reserve. In complete darkness away from sources of light pollution, it’s a place where stargazers, photographers and astronomers can marvel at the majestic night sky in all its detailed glory. Local tour operators run night-time trips to stargazing hotspots around Lake Tekapo. These include the powerful telescopes at nearby University of Canterbury Mount John Observatory, which is New Zealand’s leading astronomical research site.

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