Lake Tekapo / Mackenzie Basin

Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo, a small town on the edge of the lake with the same name, is home to one of New Zealand’s most iconic churches. Why is the Church of the Good Shepherd so popular? Is it overrated? Should they move the car park to allow for better photos? I travelled to Lake Tekapo to do some investigating.

Church of the Good Shepherd

A visit to the Church of the Good Shepherd can be done in about two minutes, as the car park is right next to the church and there really isn’t much to see. It’s an old stone church, which are about as common as sheep in New Zealand. It was built in 1935, so it’s not even that old! It’s a very small church and there isn’t much to look at inside, but it does have a certain charm.

Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

The Church of the Good Shepherd’s main appeal lies in its location. It sits close to Lake Tekapo and its associated mountains, so you can sometimes get good photos. And that’s the reason people seem to visit. Instagram is full of images of this church, usually taken at sunrise when there aren’t busloads of people crowding around it. It’s a very different scene than most people see. We’ve been there a few times now and it’s always crowded. We did plan to see it at sunrise, but the weather didn’t play along. Having said all that, it’s still a nice place to visit. The lake looks cool and it’s nice to have something historic in the foreground. They just need to move the car park, as it’s completely in the way of the best photo angle.

Update January 2020: Most of the car park is blocked off now — maybe they actually are planning on moving it!

Stunning views in Lake Tekapo, New ZealandReflections in Lake Tekapo, New ZealandChurch of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

Getting There

The church is located by the shores of Lake Tekapo, and is a short walk from the main part of town. There’s a car park there or you can walk from the more built-up part of town (it’s a small town). Lake Tekapo is around three hours from Christchurch and is very popular with tourists doing the Christchurch – Mount Cook – Queenstown route. There is heaps of things to do in Lake Tekapo and the surrounding area — I’d recommend spending a day or two and checking out places like Fairlie, The Peninsula Walkway and Mount John Observatory. Then you’ll want to head to Mount Cook National Park to tackle some of New Zealand’s best short hikes, including the Hooker Valley and Red Tarns tracks.

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.
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