Lake Tekapo sits in the Mackenzie Basin in the heart of the South Island. It marks the mid-way point of the scenic drive from Christchurch to Queenstown, which snakes its way through the majestic Southern Alps. The scenery will take your breath away. The calmness and stillness as you wander the various routes around the mountains will clear your head. The glorious hot springs will relax your weary bones. And the thrilling adventures and water sports on the crystal clear waters of the lake will get your heart pumping again.
But the real reason that visitors flock here is more of a philosophical one.
Lake Tekapo's secluded location, miles from civilisation, means it's free from the light pollution experienced in more populous areas, and gives it one of the most dazzling night skies you'll see anywhere in New Zealand, maybe even in the world. The night-time panorama is so impressive that the area has been named the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, which affords it certain rights and protections to help maintain the pristine beauty of its sky.
The clarity of the night sky not only makes it an astronomer's dream, but also a popular spot for tourists to spend some time gazing far into the universe as they ponder some of life's deeper questions.
The University of Canterbury's Mount John Observatory is located high above Lake Tekapo and is the perfect place to learn about the mysteries and complexities of the stars, planets and solar systems you're looking up at. Take an Earth & Sky night-time tour of the observatory to get a behind the scenes look at one of New Zealand's largest telescopes and gain a new found appreciation of the vastness of the universe.
The fact that International Dark-Sky Associationʼs Executive Director Bob Parks claimed that Lake Tekapo "is one of the best stargazing sites on Earth," tells you all you need to know about this wondrous place.
- Things To Do
- National Parks & Wildlife
Written by: David Kettle