After one pleasant walk along lake Tekapo (once the rain had stopped pelting us!) we were keen to stretch our legs a little more before dinner. So we searched on the map of the local area to see if there were any other easy hikes near Lake Tekapo. There were! Just in case other people would like to try some of them, I thought I should share them all.
We used one of the tourist maps provided by our hotel. I found a pdf version online here. It’s not a very detailed map, but the paths are so clear that it is good enough for simple hikes.
1. Mount Johns Walkway:
This is the most obvious easy hike in the area. Mount John is 1043m, which sounds impressive, until you realize that Lake Tekapo is already 710m above sea level. So you only need to walk up 333m of elevation gain.
- There are two routes, one straight to the summit, the other loops back along Lake Tekapo.
- It’ll take 1.5 hours – 3 hours depending which route you choose
- The path is incredibly easy to follow
- There is a cafe at the top of the mountain and loos at the trailhead
I already wrote a whole post about this gorgeous hike, so please click through to read more about it.
2. Lake Tekapo Peninsula walk
- This is a super-easy walk. It said 1.5 hours, but if you’re speedy it might be as little as 45 minutes.
- This whole peninsular is quite exposed, so bring sunscreen in the summer (and I think you’d need a good jacket to keep out the wind when it gets colder!)
- The path is *pretty* easy to follow. However you have to really keep your eyes peeled for the markers.
- There weren’t any facilities, so if you are coming from Tekapo, use the public loos there before you head this way.
The Lake Tekapo Peninsula walk starts at a pine plantation, just North of Mount John. The path goes through fields of long grass. We went in January at the height of summer. But the scenery actually looked a bit autumnal as the grass was a perfect shade of burnt umber. Lake Tekapo still looked amazing, but under the clouds it was a dark blue, rather than the crazy colour I’d seen earlier.
This was our view near the start of the walk. That little bump in the distance is Mount John. Tekapo is the town off in the distance at the far end of the lake.
The weather changes in this area reeeeally quickly. The skies kept shifting from a beautiful shade of blue to more moody looking clouds. You can easily get caught in a rainstorm so remember to bring a coat!
This peninsular has pretty amazing views over to the mountains too.
Once you make it to the top, there are stunning views of the Northern half of lake Tekapo and over to the mountains. The sun popped out again so the water was starting to look fake again!
There is a bit of a slope, but it’s not particularly hard to walk up. We found a cairn at the top, so you can pretend it’s a mountain if you like(!) There are really good views over to Motuariki Island in the center of lake Tekapo.
This is the gorgeous view from the end of the Lake Tekapo peninsular.
Once you make it to this gorgeous section of the walkway, you’ll meet a huge number of rabbits! Every few meters there were bunnies running off in all directions. We had great fun giving racing commentaries for them. Yeah, okay I realize we’re not very cool!
Once we’d made it back up the hill there was a bride and groom using these gorgeous vistas as the backdrop for their wedding photos. So, if a bride can get here in her wedding dress, this has to count as an easy walk!
3. Lake Alexandrina & Lake McGregor walk:
This is another one of the possible easy hikes near lake Tekapo – the walk between Lake Alexandrina and Lake McGregor. We did the first few hundred meters of this walk as well, just to see the views. It’s another pretty place to go for a wander!
- If you do the whole walk, it is 2.5 hours in one direction.
- I didn’t see any facilities, so get food and use the loo before you leave Tekapo!
- This walk has the best mountain views so far, but the views of Lake Alexandrina don’t quite have a crazy blue colour compared to Lake Tekapo.
As you can see, Lake Alexandrina doesn’t have quite the same crazy colour as Lake Tekapo. It is still pretty stunning though. I really like the way you can see how the hills have huge steps, from when the glaciers melted and created new shorelines, then retreated down to the current level of the lake.
4. Explore the Shores of Pines Beach
The easiest and flattest option for stretching your legs in Tekapo is to explore the area close to the town center. There are quite a few possible loops to explore this end of the lake. We wandered along some of these in the evening as the sun was setting, so my photos are a little dark!
There is a really pretty footbridge over the Tekapo river. The river is fed by glacial waters, so you can really see the colour of all that ground up rock in the pretty blue colour of the water. It looks gorgeous, even late in the evening!
You can also walk over to the Church of the Good Shepherd. It was closed by the time we arrived, but it is a pretty church. My map says it was built in 1935, and that it is open daily. To me, it looked like the churches I am used to seeing in Western Ireland.
Our legs also took us over to a statue of a collie dog. There was a sign saying that it would have been impossible for early settlers to live off this land and to graze sheep in this landscape without the help of collie dogs. It is pretty sweet to see such an epic monument to doggos. I am pretty sure my cat Monty wouldn’t approve, but he’d be a terrible edition to this landscape. I’m pretty sure he’d just do his best to eat all the native birds!
Go and eat at Kohan!
After those easy hikes and all that walking, where should you eat? I know I don’t normally mention specific places to eat on this blog (I mean apart from my massive post about Japanese food!) The thing is, there were a lot of Japanese tourists around Tekapo. All the staff in our hotel seemed to speak Japanese, and one of them told us that Tekapo’s best food was at a Japanese restaurant called Kohan. I am always up for some tasty Japanese grub, so we made a reservation and headed over to Kohan.
It is slightly strange to be able to chat in Japanese and order truly decent donburi in the center of New Zealand. We tried a variety of dishes, but the two things that *really* stood out, were the tekapo sushi rolls and the salmon donburi. Trust me, go to Tekapo, order these two things and then remember to come back and send me virtual hugs later. They were both so, so good!
In addition to having some really gorgeous grub. This was the view from Kohan. Now bad eh!?
Hopefully I’ve persuaded you to try out a few of the easy hikes near Lake Tekapo. If not, just come and eat the Japanese food at Kohan. You’ll still be able to enjoy some of the views!
Click on the following link if you’d like to read more about our Adventures in New Zealand.