Nestled in the heart of New Zealand’s South Island, Lake Tekapo stands as a jewel in the crown of nature’s grandeur. This stunning alpine haven seamlessly combines the tranquility of its crystal-clear waters with the majestic Southern Alps.
Lake Tekapo’s captivating beauty has earned it a place on many travelers’ bucket lists, making it an ideal destination to explore the region via what I believe to be the best tours in Lake Tekapo.
In this blog post, I am sharing with you the best Lake Tekapo tours, each offering a unique experience that showcases the area’s natural wonders.
Whether you are a nature aficionado, an astronomy enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or someone seeking solace in breathtaking vistas, you’ll find the perfect tour to suit your desires. Come along with as I unveil the secrets of this enchanting destination and help you plan your next unforgettable adventure in the Lake Tekapo area.
From stargazing in the world’s largest Dark Sky Reserve to immersing yourself in the unspoiled wilderness, Lake Tekapo has an array of options for everyone. So, prepare to embark on an extraordinary journey, packed with the best tours in Lake Tekapo that are sure to leave you with cherished memories of this extraordinary slice of New Zealand.
The Best Tours in Lake Tekapo
Stargazing in Lake Tekapo
The combination of its remote location, high altitude, and minimal light pollution in the Lake Tekapo area creates a celestial canvas like no other. Visitors can witness a breathtaking Dark Sky Reserve where you will see such features as the vivid Milky Way, countless constellations, and, if you’re lucky, the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) that dance across the southern horizon.
The town of Lake Tekapo is a stargazer’s paradise, with multiple observatories and outdoor stargazing platforms, providing enthusiasts with a chance to explore the cosmos through powerful telescopes and expert-guided tours. Whether you’re a seasoned astronomer or a casual stargazer, Lake Tekapo’s pristine skies offer a remarkable opportunity to connect with the universe in a way that’s both awe-inspiring and humbling.
Beyond its celestial wonders, Lake Tekapo’s surroundings add to the overall stargazing experience. The tranquil, crystal-clear waters of the lake reflect the starry sky, creating a mesmerising mirror image that adds to the magic of the night.
Top of my list of tours in Lake Tekapo is this 90 minute astronomy experience. You’ll get to look through a telescope to spot deep sky object and learn interesting facts about the night sky while sipping hot chocolate, toast marshmallows and getting cozy until a blanket in the comfortable provided seating.
Cass Valley Wilderness
The Cass Valley Wilderness 4WD tour in Lake Tekapo offers an exhilarating adventure through the rugged and remote landscapes of New Zealand’s South Island.
As you embark on this off-road journey, you’ll find yourself immersed in the pristine beauty of the Cass Valley, a hidden gem nestled within the Southern Alps.
The tour takes you through a diverse range of terrains, from dense beech forests to alpine meadows, providing breathtaking vistas at every turn. You’ll traverse through river crossings and rocky trails while enjoying the commentary of experienced guides who share insights about the local flora, fauna, and Maori culture.
The 4WD tour in Cass Valley is not just an adrenaline-pumping escapade; it’s also an opportunity to connect with the unspoiled wilderness that defines the essence of Lake Tekapo.
As you explore this remote wilderness, you’ll have the chance to witness the stunning turquoise hues of Lake Tekapo from vantage points that few visitors ever experience. The tour also includes stops at hidden gems like the historic Cass Hut, offering a glimpse into the area’s rich history.
Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or a nature lover, the Cass Valley Wilderness 4WD tour in Lake Tekapo promises an unforgettable experience, where the rugged charm of New Zealand’s wild side meets the comfort of guided exploration.
Experience Mount Cook by Road
Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak, stands as a majestic sentinel in the Southern Alps, offering a breathtaking spectacle for visitors who venture to its vicinity. And a visit to Lake Tekapo makes this beauty of the peak at its most accessible in the country.
As part of the Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, this region is a pristine wilderness that captivates with its rugged beauty. The village at the base of Mount Cook, nestled amidst this stunning natural landscape, serves as a gateway to one of the world’s most enchanting alpine environments.
Visitors here can explore numerous hiking trails, such as the popular Hooker Valley Track, which meanders alongside aquamarine glacial lakes and offers spellbinding views of the peak. For those seeking serenity and adventure in equal measure, Mount Cook and its surrounding village provide an unforgettable escape into the heart of New Zealand’s wilderness.
The Mount Cook village area is not only a haven for outdoor enthusiasts but also a place of historical significance. The village pays homage to the indigenous Māori culture, with the name Aoraki referring to the Māori mythological figure who transformed into the South Island’s highest peak. This cultural connection adds depth to the experience of exploring the region.
Your best option for getting the best views of Mount Cook is on a tour to Mount Cook from Lake Tekapo.
On this 7.5 hour small group (max. 9 guests) tour, you’ll get to stop at many incredible view points as you drive along Lake Pukaki with your expert guide, including the famous Peter’s Lookout.
Once the tour reaches the Mount Cook Village you have two choices, you can hop off the bus in the village and spend a few hours exploring the planetarium and museum or you can continue on with the guide to the Tasman Glacier for a short walk and then onto the Hooker Track where you can take a self-guided walk until it is time to return to Lake Tekapo in the afternoon.
Experience Mount Cook from Above
While a tour like this is quiet the splurge, soaring high above the majestic Southern Alps in a helicopter flight to Mount Cook is a breathtaking adventure like no other.
As the chopper gracefully ascends, the world transforms below you, revealing the stunning landscapes of New Zealand in all their glory. The shimmering glacial lakes, rugged terrain, and pristine snow-capped peaks unfold in a mesmerizing display of nature’s grandeur.
The highlight of this journey is the alpine landing, where the chopper gently touches down on a remote snowfield near Mount Cook. Stepping out onto the crisp, untouched snow, you’re enveloped in a profound silence broken only by the whisper of the wind and the distant rumble of the glacier.
Here, in the heart of the Southern Alps, you can truly appreciate the awe-inspiring scale and beauty of Mount Cook, standing in reverence of the natural wonder that has captivated adventurers and explorers for generations.
As the helicopter departs from the alpine landing, your heart is left aflutter with the exhilaration of having witnessed Mount Cook from a vantage point few are fortunate enough to experience. The sense of serenity, blended with the thrill of flight, makes this journey an unforgettable encounter with New Zealand’s highest peak.
The sheer magnificence of Mount Cook and the surrounding alpine landscape, coupled with the adrenaline rush of a helicopter ride, create a moment that’s etched forever in your memory, a testament to the boundless beauty of our planet and the thrill of adventure that beckons from the skies.
There are two helicopter flight option in Mount Cook, both will require you to get from Lake Tekapo to Mount Cook Village where the airfield is on your own.
25-Minute Helicopter Flight with Alpine Landing
On this tour you will take the scenic flight I’ve described above and then hop out of the helicopter and onto the ice and snow of the mountain for a short walk around to take in the views
3 Hour Heli Hike to the Tasman Glacier
The ultimate hiking experience, first take the scenic helicopter ride before landing on Mount Cook. You will then be equipped with glacier boots and crampons and spend 2 hours in another world in the mountains before taking the helicopter back to Mount Cook Village.
Skydive Mount Cook
Didn’t think I could better the tour above, well you were wrong! For the ultimate adrenalin junkies, why not choose Mount Cook to experience your first, or one of many, skydives.
Skydiving over Mount Cook is a heart-pounding adventure that promises an exhilarating rush like no other. Soaring high above New Zealand’s highest peak, you’ll witness breathtaking panoramic views of the Southern Alps, turquoise lakes, and vast glaciers, all while freefalling through the crisp alpine air.
With the towering grandeur of Mount Cook as your backdrop, this adrenaline-fueled experience is a perfect blend of natural beauty and extreme excitement, making it a bucket-list item for daredevils and nature enthusiasts alike.
You’ll take a 20 minute scenic flight from Pukaki-Twizel Airport (located a short drive from Lake Tekapo) over Lake Pukaki with stunning views of the lake, surrounding mountains and of course Mount Cook.
Once the plane is in position you’ll take the leap free fall for 60 seconds before your parachute will glide you safely back to the ground.
Accommodation in Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo has a good variety of accommodation options to choose from. Here are few accommodation options to choose from.
Budget – Tailor Made Tekapo Hotel
Mid-Range – Tekapo Lakefront Apartments
Luxury – Grand Suites Lake Tekapo
Over to you!
Which of these best tours in Lake Tekapo are you most keen to do? Have you been before? What did you love most about it?
Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.