Lake Tekapo, with its characteristic blue water and mountain surrounds, is one of the top scenic spots in the Mackenzie Basin. The views from the stony beach in front of town are nice, but to really see the beauty of this area you’ll need to head a little further afield. The Peninsula Walkway, located around 8 km from downtown Lake Tekapo, is one of your best bets for lake / mountain views and is easy enough to suit all levels of fitness.
Hiking the Peninsula Walkway
There’s a small car park at the start of the track (along Godley Peaks Road, just after the Mount John turnoff) — signage isn’t great but it’s easy to find. You can also start at the other end but starting at the first car park seems like the best way go. If you drive a bit further you’ll come to Lake Alexandrina and Lake McGregor — good options if you’re looking for a camping ground nearby. The first part of the track takes you through a golden field framed by mountains, and it doesn’t take long for Lake Tekapo to come into view. The track splinters in parts but just roughly follow the orange poles and you’ll find the way — it’d be difficult to get lost.
We did the Peninsula Walkway hike in winter (early August) and the snow on the mountains made for some awesome views. It’d be nice in the summer too but snow definitely adds to the beauty in places like this. According to the sign, this track is closed for lambing during September and October.
READ MORE: Check out our South Island travel guide — it’ll help you plan your trip to NZ!
The end of the track
After 30 – 40 minutes you’ll be close to the end of the track. You can walk down the hill to the edge of the water or admire the views from above. You can see heaps of mountains as well as Motuariki Island, the largest island in Lake Tekapo. Apparently it’s a loop track but we just headed back the way we came as the views were awesome.
Getting to the Peninsula Walkway
If you’re coming from Lake Tekapo, drive out of town towards Twizel / Mount Cook National Park and turn off at the sign for Mount John Observatory. We drove up to the observatory / cafe before we did the hike and it has to be one of the more scenic places to grab a coffee (or a milkshake) in New Zealand. A trip to Mount John and the Peninsula Walkway is definitely one of the best things to do in Lake Tekapo and the Mackenzie Basin — don’t miss it! This road also features lupins in summer — they make for a pretty foreground to the beautiful scenery beyond.
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