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Searching for Lupins near Lake Tekapo

Searching for Lupins near Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo, and the surrounding area, is home to some of the best scenery in New Zealand. It’s a great place to visit at any time of year, but if you happen to be there in summer (especially early summer) you’ll be greeted to a colourful treat – lupins! We went searching for lupins in and around Lake Tekapo on our recent trip – find out how it went.

This post details two different trips to see the lupins near Lake Tekapo — the first on 18/1/2019 and the second on 5/12/2020. There were a lot more lupins in early December, so keep that in mind when planning a trip to see them.

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What are Lupins?

Lupins are part of the legume family and there are many varieties. The ones found in Lake Tekapo feature bright purple and pink flowers and make for envy producing photos if you can find a good spot. Lupins are considered a bit of a pest in these parts, although there is some debate about the usefulness of the plant. Apparently, it’s a good alternative to soy and could one day be a lot more widely used. Lupins aren’t native to the area — they were stealthily planted by local woman Connie Scott around 70 years ago in order to brighten the place up a bit.

Lupins near Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

Searching for Lupins near Lake Tekapo

We’d seen a few photos of lupins in Lake Tekapo and had always been inspired to see them for ourselves. We don’t usually travel to mountain areas in the middle of summer, but we recently found ourselves in Lake Tekapo and although it was a bit late in the season, we did find a few spots where you can see lupins. Update 2020: We returned to Lake Tekapo and saw more lupins than last time — lookout for the 2020 updates below to see what it was like in early December VS early January.

READ MORE: 16 Fun Things to Do in Lake Tekapo and the Mackenzie Basin

The Main Road (close to the northern edge of town)

Just before arriving in Lake Tekapo, coming from Christchurch / northern areas, you’ll see a big field full of lupins. This is the first spot we visited and it was the best – lupins for as far as the eye could see! It seems to be a private farm area but there’s a fence with a gap in it and people didn’t seem shy about climbing through. I’m sure if the owner wanted to stop it they’d put a sign up (and it’s on Google Maps, so it isn’t exactly a secret).

Update 2020: This field wasn’t quite as good as it was in 2019 — still worth a look though.

A field of lupins near Lake Tekapo, New ZealandLupins in New Zealand

The Southern Side of Town

If you’re approaching Lake Tekapo from the south (from Mount Cook, Twizel etc) you’ll see heaps of Lupins by the side of the road (just across the road from Peppers Bluewater Resort). It’s an awesome place to seem them as you have views of the lake and surrounding mountains in the background. I can’t remember seeing any lupins in this area in 2019, so this might be a new spot.

The Northern Side of the Lake

There were a few lupins on the drive around the northern side of the lake (the road to Double Hill Ski Area). We saw a big group of them at the start of that road (very close to town) and were hoping there’d be some others closer to the lake. There weren’t, but there were heaps of other purple flowers that look awesome in photos. Not quite lupins, but good enough!

Lupins by the side of the road in New ZealandPurple flowers near Lake Tekapo, New ZealandA scenic road near Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

Lake Tekapo Foreshore

There were a few groups of lupins scattered around the lakefront area in town. Not enough to really blow you away but they were there. Again, there were more of the slightly smaller, but still bright purple, weeds / flowers around, especially close to the Church of the Good Shepherd.

Update 2020: We saw heaps more this time around. The first time we visited, in 2019, it was January and the lupins were starting to die off. This time, in early December, there were heaps around the Lake Tekapo Foreshore / Church of the Good Shepherd.

Godley Peaks Road

Godley Peaks Road is the road you’ll drive down to reach Mount John Observatory, one of the highlights of any trip to Lake Tekapo. After the turnoff to Mount John Observatory the road continues around the Lake Alexandrina and beyond. You’ll find lots of lupins by the side of the road, and there’s a viewpoint (listed on Google Maps as Adrian’s Place) with heaps more. This spot is one of the best places to take photos of lupins in Lake Tekapo as there’s an awesome backdrop of water and mountains. I reckon there might be some further around Godley Peaks Road – we only went as far as Lake Alexandrina.

Update 2020: There were way more lupins on this road in early December!

Roadside lupins in New Zealand

The Clay Cliffs

The Clay Cliffs are a bit of a drive from Lake Tekapo, but if you’re heading to Mount Cook, Queenstown or Dunedin it’s (almost) on the way. We stopped by on the way home from Lake Tekapo (early December 2020) and saw heaps of Lupins — in far greater numbers than we saw in Lake Tekapo. It’s an awesome place to visit at any time of year, but you can’t beat the splash of colour that the lupins add. To see the most lupins, you’ll need to head down to the riverbanks below the Clay Cliffs.

When can you see Lupins in Lake Tekapo?

Apparently, lupins bloom between September and February, but the peak lupin season around Lake Tekapo is mid-November until the end of December (best in late November). The first time we visited was on January 18 and quite a few of them had already died off. It was late in the season, but it was still worth seeking them out. The second time was on December 5 / 6, and it was much better. So, if you want to see the lupins at their best I’d advise to go there in early December, maybe even late November. Keep a look out on Instagram — there’s always heaps of photos when they start to bloom!

Lake Tekapo lupins

Where to Stay in Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo has a lot of great options for accommodation. We recommend choosing a hotel that’s within walking distance from the lake, a view of the lake or the surrounding mountains. Some great hotel with great views and within walking distance from the Lake Tekapo lakefront include Grand Suites Lake Tekapo | Peppers Bluewater Resort | Mantra Lake Tekapo | Galaxy Boutique Hotel. There are also some good motels and holiday parks (with cool cabins) situated close to Lake Tekapo Lakes Edge Holiday Park  | Lake Tekapo Village Motel. Staying in a holiday home is also fairly common, check out Star River or this Designer Cabin – with outdoor bath! If you’re looking for a hostel option, there’s YHA Lake Tekapo, located close to the lake.

Have you seen lupins near Lake Tekapo? Have any insider tips for our readers? Let us know in the comments below!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.