Tekapo Adventures

Our Scenic 4WD Tours offer you the opportunity to experience The Outstanding Natural Landscapes of The Mackenzie Country, accessed through private High Country Stations surrounding Lake Tekapo.

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mum and daughter on a multi-day hiking tour in the Mackenzie Basin

The 10 Best Summer Activities in Lake Tekapo

Hikers hight on a hillside with a braided river in the background

The 10 Best Summer Activities in Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo offers visitors more than the Church of the Good Shepherd and the International Dark Sky Reserve; it’s one of the best places to capture some of New Zealand’s outstanding scenery, breath-taking hikes and some of the bluest waterways in the country.

The summer months spanning from December – March offer the warmest climate and strong sun to match, so make sure you’ve got sunscreen and a broad brimmed hat when exploring Lake Tekapo and its iconic scenery.

During the day you can see the towering glaciers and vast mountain ranges of the Southern Alps, and deeply clear skies at night, with stargazing available in the Dark Sky Reserve. Here are some of the best ways to get around Lake Tekapo in the summer months, and the best things to do when visiting the Mackenzie area.


What are the summer months in New Zealand?

New Zealand summer months range from December – March with January and February being the hottest months. December is still considered early summer/late spring and can also have quite stormy and unsettled weather with high winds and rain. Luckily, the Mackenzie Basin is one of the sunniest places in New Zealand.

What is the warmest place to visit in New Zealand?

One of the warmest places to visit in NZ is in the North Island, known as Hastings. The average temperate there is consistently around 25C.

In Lake Tekapo and the Mackenzie Basin, we have some of the hottest summers here with a scolding 25-30C but sitting at a higher elevation of around 700M we also get very cold evenings and cold southerly blasts that can change our temperatures very quickly. So always bring a jacket with you!

The 10 best things to do in Lake Tekapo in summer:

best things to do in Tekapo in summer

1. Join a back country hiking tour

Lake Tekapo has some short day hikes such as Mt John & Cowans Hill Walkway, but to experience some of the true vastness and beauty of The Mackenzie Country, we’d suggest taking a multi-day backcountry hiking tour like The Mackenzie Alpine Hiking Tour which journeys into the true remote parts of the Southern Alps and the mysterious mountains and lakes beyond Lake Tekapo itself.

Allow 2 nights and 3 days to hike amongst some of NZ’s finest scenery to a series of private alpine huts perched in Tekapo’s wilderness, a secret still and far away from the busy huts & trails of the great walks of NZ.

If you’re just visiting Tekapo for the day, consider a 3 hour guided hike of The Glenmore Tarns and Cass Valley, giving you also incredible views of Tekapo.

Mackenzie Country swamp habitat for the critically endangered Black Stilt - Kaki

2. Join a private scenic 4WD tour

Another great thing to do in Tekapo to view the lakes and mountains within The Mackenzie Basin is to jump on board a hardy Land Rover Defender and explore private scenery with us. Our scenic 4wd tours journey through private High Country Stations you in accessible to people. You’ll see some of the best scenery in New Zealand, and far away from the crowds and busy lakefront from the Church of the Good Shepherd or Tekapo Springs.

3. Photograph the wild lupin flowers

One of the prettiest times of the year is summer in Tekapo with the wild lupin flowers. A controversial additional to New Zealand, as they are not native flowers but seen more of as a pest for various environmental reason. Their bountiful purple and blues and pinks attract many from a far, they can be seen throughout the South Island, but particularly around Lake Tekapo and its surrounds. Recently they are being sprayed out, however booking a tour with us will allow you access to some abundant private fields of them for the best photography of the lupin flowers. The best time to view lupins in Tekapo would be in December.


Lake Tekapo Tours

4. Find a critically endangered Black Stilt – Kaki

The world’s rarest wading bird resides in The Mackenzie Basin and is in the low numbers of around 147 to date, depending on which source you read. Our Black Stilt Tours offer a variety of opportunities to photograph the Kaki and learn about the rich history, geology, and environment these unique birds call home. We are one of New Zealand’s only Black Stilt touring companies, offering guests a wonderful up-close journey to view Kaki in the wild.

5. Soak at Tekapo Springs

Of course, after an active day or a lazy day there’s always the luxury of a nice soak in Tekapo Springs. One of the most popular things to do in Tekapo alongside star gazing the dark sky reserves. Summertime and winter in Tekapo offer a variety of reasons why you should pamper yourself in the host springs in Tekapo.

6. Take a Stargazing tour

The Mackenzie Basin not only offers some of the best scenery in New Zealand but also has some of the clearest skies in the world. The Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve offers home to the darkest skies in the world with over 4,300 square kilometres of protected land, the largest reserve in the world. Whether you’re stargazing by marvelling at the night sky from your accommodation, lakeside or with The Dark Sky Project or a sky tour operator, you wont be disappointed.

We like to think of The Mackenzie Basin offering stunning night skies and just as equal in the daytime, its outstanding natural landscapes! 

7. Visit the Church of the Good Shepherd

A visit to Tekapo wouldn’t be complete without of course stopping in at this iconic beautiful church nestled into Tekapo’s lakeside. Get ready for a busy photograph! Its one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist attractions, offering great views of Lake Tekapo and its surrounding mountains.

8. Take a scenic flight

Viewing the glaciers and mountains and braided rivers of New Zealand from the air on a scenic flight is a breath-taking and expansive experience. There”s just no way to gather the scale of its beauty than from the air on a scenic glacier flight. We would recommend Air Safaris for an iconic scenic flight of the area or Mackenzie Helicopters for a more boutique or custom backcountry tour.

9. Explore the local walking trails

Tekapo has a variety of walking and hiking trails to choose from. For ore information on the details of these trails, check out our blog The best day hikes in Tekapo .  After you’ve tasted some of the Tekapo trails, we suggest taking a day or two to explore the awe and wonder of Mt Cook National Park.

The best day hikes in Tekapo are:

  1. Mount John Summit Track
  2. The Richmond Trail
  3. Alpine Tarns & Cass Valley Landscapes
  4. Cowan’s Hill Walkway
  5. Lake George Scott Track
  6. Lake Alexandrina Walks

10. Swim/SUP/kayak on the lake

Of course, getting out on Lake Tekapo itself is a real treat, there are not many options to do so, mainly due to the unpredictable high winds that can occur. A nice option is to go see the guys at Paddle Tekapo for a SUP or kayak rental in the calmer shores of the bay. It’s a great option on a hot summer’s day! You can find these rentals by the lakeside close to Tekapo springs.


Book your trip today!

Email: info@tekapoadventures.com 

PH: +64 20 4156 4900  (020 4156 4900) 

Tekapo Adventures – Scenic 4WD Tours 

“Experience The Outstanding Natural Landscapes Of The Mackenzie Country”


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