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Just three hours south of Christchurch and three hours north of Queenstown on State Highway 8, Lake Tekapo awaits patiently the arrival of visitors from all over the country and the world. This little village of just 400 residents packs well above its weight in Tourism options and will surprise even the most discerning traveller.
The aqua blue of this stunning glacial lake, nestled between the Two thumb Range and Mt John in the heart of the Southern Alps, will not fail to impress. The natural landscape of New Zealand’s highest alpine village has been the inspiration for a number of tourism operators who have earned international reputations. Tourism award winners Air Safaris, Earth and Sky and Tekapo Springs are the main experiences in the village with a raft of smaller but no less impressive options ranging from horse trekking, golfing, fishing, cycling and walking. And let’s not forget one of the best family ski fields in the country - ‘Roundhill’.
The latest addition to the town’s activities is the world’s largest inflatable water slide, the TRIPPO! Tekapo Springs has purchased this mammoth slide which stands 11 metres tall and 53 metres in length to support its summer experience. A day at Tekapo Springs is a great way for a family to escape, relax and have fun! Offering hot pools, a summer tube ride and now the TRIPPO, there is plenty to keep the kids of all ages occupied for hours!
If it’s relaxation you’re after, then consider the Tekapo Springs Day Spa for that overdue treatment or massage or enjoy a coffee or glass of wine and a meal at the Tahr Bar and Café on site. During the winter the springs transform their environment into a winter playground with a full sized outdoor ice-rink and an adrenalin filled snow tube park. Overlooking the Lake there is nowhere quite so picturesque for a fun filled day out.
The beauty of Tekapo isn’t merely confined to the daytime – visitors flock to town to marvel at the stars in what is the world’s largest dark sky reserve, the “Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.” The star-studded sky above the Mackenzie Basin has been ranked as one of the top five places globally to showcase just "how incredible Earth really is." You’ll be hard pressed to find a better place from which to revel in the beauty of the heavens than from Mt. John University Observatory, New Zealand’s leading astronomical research centre. Perched atop Mt. John, 300m above the basin floor, guests are afforded stunning landscapes, delectable treats at the Astro Café, and unforgettable nightscapes. Earth and Sky’s internationally acclaimed observatory tours provide exclusive access to this premier site, and courtesy of their powerful telescopes and knowledgeable guides visitors of all ages are treated to the ultimate, hands-on astronomy experience.
But if you do not want to keep your feet on the ground or star gaze – then consider one of the world’s most scenic flights into the heart of the Southern Alps. Air Safaris has been operating from the township since the 1970’s. Breath taking does not describe the grand traverse flight which takes you into the heart of the Mt Cook and Tai Poutini National Parks. The iconic scenic flight provides the opportunity to view New Zealand’s highest peaks and longest glaciers. You feel like you could reach out and touch the 12,000 foot summit of mighty Aoraki! This is a flight not to be missed.
Accommodation options range from backpackers to 4 star hotels, B&Bs and boutique lodges. Great dining options from family pizzas at Pepes to Thai, Chinese, hot stone grill and traditional kiwi to the famous Kohan Japanese Restaurant – a ‘must’ visit while in Tekapo.
So don’t overlook this big little town, you just might want to stay a little longer!
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