Some of New Zealand’s most beautiful landscapes are found around Lake Tekapo. It’s a wonderful area to visit all year round, but if you go in the summer, particularly in the early summer, you’ll be treated with a vivid welcome: lupins!
One of the most attractive and popular periods of the year to travel to Mackenzie Country is during the lupin blooms in Lake Tekapo.
In fact, some of the most popular photographs of New Zealand frequently feature landscapes with enormous variations of deep purple, pink, yellow, and soft lavender colors spread across snow-covered heights and jade blue lakes.
This enabled Lake Tekapo, the lupin lake, to become one of the most visited tourist destinations in the southern island of New Zealand. You’d definitely want to get your luggage ready as we’ll go through the lupin lake must-sees and offer some additional travel tips to make your trip memorable.
Lupins of Tekapo: What Makes Them So Special
There are several types of lupins, which are members of the legume family. If you can locate a decent place, the ones around Lake Tekapo have vivid purple and pink blossoms and make for images that will make your friends green with envy.
However, the lupin flower is not indigenous to New Zealand. In New Zealand, lupins are a newly introduced species known as Russell Lupins. This breed was developed by George Russell of the United Kingdom from a variety of lupins imported in the 1820s. Then, around 70 years ago, Connie Scott, a native woman, planted them secretly in New Zealand to brighten up the area.
Lupins continue to grow freely, and at the right moment of the year, they can be found in a variety of locations!
However, the best site to see lupins in New Zealand is without a doubt Lake Tekapo. Thousands of lupins in a wide range of hues bloom along the Lake Tekapo shoreline. The lupins here are quite unique, coming in every color from violet to pink and everything in between!
That’s probably why wedding photo sessions are very common during the lupin season, and you can frequently see newlyweds taking lovely pictures of one another around the lupin lake!
Find Lake Tekapo: A Comprehensive Travel Guide
If you have come this far, surely you can’t wait to see the dazzling beauty of the lupin lake in Tekapo. So, let’s talk about the timing, directions, and accommodation options to get you going!
How To Reach the Lupin Lake
About midway between Christchurch and Queenstown, the lupin lake in Tekapo is located directly on State Highway 8. You should have a little more time for breaks along the route because the journey is fairly lovely in both directions. It’s a 3-hour trip from Queenstown if you rent a car.
A bus journey is another good option. Intercity buses run from Queenstown, Mt. Cook, and Christchurch to Lake Tekapo. One-way tickets are around $45 NZD each.
Also, you can travel from Mt. Cook Village to Tekapo with the Cook Connection bus service. Their costs are a little lower, starting at $30 NZD for each individual.
Accommodations in Tekapo
Unfortunately, freedom camping is banned in the town of Tekapo. So, it’s better to book your accommodation before you visit, especially during the on-seasons.
YHA Lake Tekapo is a good option if you are looking for budget accommodation, while The Mackenzie Apartments offer decent accommodation at mid-range prices. Also, you can check out the luxurious Galaxy Boutique Hotel in Lake Tekapo if you value comfort over currency.
The Best Time to Visit the Lupin Lake
There is never a terrible time to visit Tekapo because of its natural beauty, but you’d undoubtedly look forward to going when the lupins are in full bloom. Thus, the best time for you to go should be around late November to mid-December.
If you enjoy taking pictures, we recommend you schedule your visit for a day without any wind, because it could be quite challenging to get everything in focus on a windy day.
Also, we recommend going there early in the morning or late in the afternoon to make the most of the sunlight in the golden hour. It’s indeed an amazing sight once the lupins start glowing in the golden sunlight.
If you want to catch a sun sparkle or witness the first beams of light striking the lupins, we recommend going early in the morning when the sun comes up just above the mountains in the east.
Best Places to Search for Lupins in Lake Tekapo
Lupins may be found practically everywhere in the Tekapo region. However, we’ll look at some of the locations where you’ll get the greatest visual delight.
On the Main Road (Near the Northern Edge)
Coming from Christchurch or the northern districts, just before landing at Lake Tekapo, you’ll find a large field full of lupins as far as the eye can see!
It appears to be personal farmland, but there is fencing with a breach in it, and people don’t appear to be afraid to jump through. You may also find the farm on Google Maps.
The Town’s Southern Side
If you’re entering Lake Tekapo from the south (through Mount Cook, Twizel, and so on), you’ll see a lot of lupins at the side of the road. It’s a great spot to watch them because you can see the lake and nearby mountains in the backdrop.
Road to Godley Peaks
Godley Peaks Road will take you to Mt. John Observatory, one of the centerpieces of any journey to Lake Tekapo. The road continues past Lake Alexandrina and past the Mount John Observatory turnoff.
There are plenty of lupins along the route, and a viewpoint known as Adrian’s Place on Google Maps has even more. This is one of the greatest sites in Lake Tekapo to photograph lupins because of the beautiful scenery of lakes and cliffs.
Must Do Activities around the Lupin Lake in Tekapo
Apart from enjoying the sights of the beautiful lupin fields, here are some of the top things you should do once you reach Lake Tekapo.
An Expedition by the Lakes
Wandering around the lakeshore is without a doubt the top activity to do in Tekapo. The town center is located on the southern water’s edge, making it simple to reach and providing a beautiful backdrop for photography.
On a clear day, you’ll see the Southern Alps mirrored in the sparkling lake, providing a panoramic vista. Additionally, because the region surrounding Tekapo is so remote, it’s easy to locate a peaceful place to admire nature.
Visit the Good Shepherd Church
The most recognizable and perhaps most photographed church in the South Island is the Good Shepherd Church. Every Tekapo trip itinerary you come across will mention it for sure!
This charming, tiny stone chapel was constructed in 1935. The location is excellent for taking pictures since the Lake Tekapo, with all its lupins, and Mt. Cook are both plainly visible in the backdrop. You can come around sunset or sunrise for the finest lighting and the least number of people.
Don’t forget to do some astrophotography if you wander there after dark!
Enjoy the Refreshing Hot Springs in Tekapo
Last but not least, on the edge of Lake Tekapo there is a vast complex called Tekapo Springs that houses hot pools and saunas. The water for the three hot spas is sourced from a buried underground source in Tekapo.
Families with younger children may also appreciate the cooler pool and Aqua Playroom that are also provided.
The hot pools are available both day and night, so you may soak while stargazing. You’re sure to have a relaxed experience at the Tekapo springs with sights of the woods and Mountain John all around you.
Happy touring, folks!