Going from traffic jams to wide open roads has been a drastic change for me, to say the least. Living in Portland, Oregon, I was constantly involved or around hundreds of people every day. I definitely got used to living in a big city, sharing my space with thousands.
When I took a job in Tekapo, I knew I’d be in for a bit of a shock. What I didn’t realise was how much I’d welcome the change.
It’s been three months now since I first arrived here and I can happily say I’m still loving the mountains over the city. I explore the Mackenzie Region on the weekends and take mini road trips whenever I can. I love to be outdoors, and living in the epicentre of outdoor activities has really motivated me to explore even the smallest trails and roads. Majority of the time, it has led me to something spectacular.
Although I have many more months to keep up my adventures, I have already found some favourites that I just cannot get enough of.
Alps 2 Ocean Trail
The 301-kilometre Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail has an alternative route that begins in Tekapo and joins the main trail at Lake Pukaki. I’m in love with this bike trail. It provides the perfect amount of scenery and exercise for any skill level and the views are unbelievable. It’s a fantastic way to see the Mackenzie and Otago regions of New Zealand.
Let’s face it; Mt. John’s panoramic view is breathtaking. You can see for days across the mountain tops and to the end of the lake. This hike up to the summit (whether you take the short or long way up) is a great workout, and you are rewarded at the top with the best view around. The Astro Café is also located at the summit, providing great motivation to get up the mountain!
Lake Tekapo Regional Park
Many forget about this gem in Tekapo. This forest is filled with a variety of mountain bike and walking trails that criss-cross through 300 hectares of terrain. All shaded by a dense tree forest, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been transported elsewhere. There’s even a beautiful lookout at the top that provides you with one of the best views of the lake in Tekapo. Many people do not venture here and I think it has a great variety of outdoor options and a unique lookout that you won’t get anywhere else.
Omarama Clay Cliffs
A little over an hour from Tekapo is one of the region’s most unique natural landscapes, the Omarama Clay Cliffs. You can drive out on a private dirt road (don’t forget to leave $5 in the box!) to the cliffs. They are such a blast to explore! You can navigate through the cracks and little narrows up to the top for an incredible view of the valley below. Don’t forget your camera, either. These 2-million-year-old rock formations are beautiful.
Aoraki Mount Cook
Aoraki, meaning “Cloud Piercer,” is the bread and butter of New Zealand. This mountain can be seen looming in the background of Lake Pukaki and is one of the most photogenic mountains in the world. Its presence completely demands your attention from every angle, and on a clear day you cannot take your eyes off it! I love hiking the Hooker Valley Track to see the beauty up close. Plus, the photo opportunities are endless. Mt Cook and the surrounding area is a very special place.
I may be biased as this is my workplace, but Tekapo Springs really is one of the best attractions on the South Island! The five different pools have a beautiful view of Lake Tekapo and I love to have a soak after a bike ride or a big hike up Mt John. It’s such a relaxing atmosphere and our spa therapists are some of the best around. Their massages always do the trick. Plus, there’s ice skating and snow tubing in the winter! It really is a win-win destination!
With so much to see and do, I really hope to take advantage as much as I can!
Jen Heuett lives in Lake Tekapo and is the Online Media and Marketing Specialist for Tekapo Springs.