Lake Tekapo is described as picturesque by day and dazzling by night and that is exactly what it is. One night really isn't long enough in this amazing location named as part of the UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve. If you have an unclear sky you'll want to park up your motorhome for another night to ensure you're able to marvel at the gorgeous kiwi sky.
The drive from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo is pretty, easy and flooded with campers doing the exact same thing as you, heading to one of the most beautiful spots in New Zealand.
You'll drive through some great little towns well equipped to accommodate motorhomes. Most have holiday parks, self-contained camping spots and dump station facilities including Fairlie, which really is a must stop location.
You can't go past without stopping at the famous Fairlie Bakehouse. It has some of the best homemade pies I have ever tasted including the vegetarian and pork belly with crackle and apple sauce. The line which is out the door, is the length of a line normally seen outside a popular Melbourne restaurant on a Saturday night. Take a few hours here to enjoy your pie and a coffee plus walk the street. It's a creative little town with some beautiful stores that are well worth a look.
As you leave Fairlie, the scenery really starts to change, becoming more and more impressive as you inch closer to Tekapo. The road tracks through numerous majestic mountain ranges that you along with every other tourist can't help but stop to photograph.
As you approach Lake Tekapo in your motorhome or caravan you are welcomed by the most amazing turquoise water contrasted sharply by the dryness of the mountain ranges that surround it. It really is quite jaw dropping and its beauty leaves an impact.
Lake Tekapo is literally swarming with tourists, leaving very little accommodation available especially at this time of year. I would recommend booking into the motorhome and caravan park and getting up early to watch the sunrise over the lake. It's quiet, peaceful and pretty majestic at this time of morning and allows a serenity unlikely to be repeated across the rest of the day.
Places to stay
There are some rules and restrictions to self-contained freedom camping in MacKenzie Country and it's important to understand your obligations. Of course you need to meet the basic self-contained criteria. Self-contained freedom camping is strictly prohibited in the Lake Tekapo Township. There is an NZMCA POP and a popular motorhome and caravan park. The park is at the end of the township and close to the Tekapo Springs and the Lake which is good for those who wish to park up and enjoy the scenery by foot.
Things to see:
The Church of the Good Shepard is a must see, on the shores of Lake Tekapo. It is very busy with tourists, which somewhat takes away from the beauty of the church. I'd recommend visiting early morning or try to find a quieter time of the day.
You of course couldn't pass through here without visiting the namesake Lake Tekapo and enjoying a picnic lakeside or simply park the motorhome up for a few hours and enjoy the view.
The Tekapo Springs are also currently holding night star gazing from the comfort of a hot spring. They offer floating devices which let you lie back and enjoy the stars while also explaining some of the Maori mythology of the stars in the area.