Exploring New Zealand's South Island: Queenstown to Tekapo

Exploring New Zealand's South Island: Queenstown to Tekapo

Welcome back, fellow travel enthusiasts! I’m thrilled to continue sharing my recent journey through New Zealand’s South Island. If you missed the first post, don’t worry; you can catch up here. Today, I’m taking you on a scenic drive from Queenstown to the tranquil town of Tekapo.

Map showing the route to drive from Queenstown to Tekapo.

Day 3, driving from Queenstown to Tekapo.

Day 3: Queenstown to Tekapo

A Snowy Adventure

The day dawned bright and sunny, promising a perfect day for our road trip from Queenstown to Tekapo. The Southern Alps, adorned with pristine snow caps, created a breathtaking backdrop as we set out on this picturesque journey.

It is a sunny day with a clear blue sky. There are snow capped mountains in the background with a mirrored blue lake in the middle ground. In the foreground is a pebbled shore line.

Mountains and Lakes

As we left Queenstown behind, the rugged landscapes of Central Otago unfolded before us. The drive was nothing short of spectacular, with each twist and turn of the road revealing new vistas of snow-capped mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and vast, open skies.

Our midday stop was Twizel, a charming town nestled in the Mackenzie Basin. The town was founded in 1968 to house construction workers on the Upper Waitaki Hydroelectric Scheme. Today, Twizel is a service and tourist town for visitors to the area. It made a great stop off point to grab something to eat and drink and we indulged in a delightful lunch at one of Twizel’s cozy eateries.

Arriving in Tekapo, we were greeted by the mesmerizing Lake Tekapo, a sparkling jewel set against

A clear blue sky with snow capped mountains and a blue lake.

Lake Tekapo

the backdrop of the Southern Alps. The lake’s azure waters are famed for their incredible clarity, and it’s not hard to see why. I snapped countless photos, but none could truly capture the breathtaking beauty of this place.

Our first stop in Tekapo was the Tekapo Springs hot pools. After the drive, a soak in the warm, therapeutic waters was the perfect way to unwind and take in the views of the surrounding mountains.

As night fell, we embarked on the Dark Sky Project Summit Experience—an absolute must for anyone visiting Tekapo. With minimal light pollution, Lake Tekapo is one of the world’s best places for stargazing.

Photo of Tekapo at night. The town's lights can be seen as well as the mirrored surface of the lake. The Milky Way is also featured in this photo.


We journeyed to the summit of Mount John, where our guide led us through a mesmerizing tour of the night sky. Under a blanket of stars, we marveled at constellations, planets, and even glimpses of distant galaxies through high-powered telescopes.

As we wrapped up our stargazing adventure, I couldn’t help but reflect on the tranquility of Lake Tekapo. The combination of its crystal-clear waters, snow-capped mountains, and the vast expanse of the night sky made it a place of serene beauty—one that left an indelible mark on my heart.

Lake Tekapo is not just a destination; it’s an experience that connects you to the wonder of the universe.

Church on the shore of Lake Tekapo with a clear blue sky. Two people are standing in front of the church.Join me in the next post as we continue our exploration of New Zealand’s South Island. From adventure to tranquility, this country has it all, and I’m here to help you plan your dream journey.

Michelle Aitken
Based in Benalla, VIC
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M-F 10am-4pm.

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