Lake Tekapo / Mackenzie Basin

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.

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.

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).

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

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.

Purple flowers near Church of the Good Shepherd, New Zealand

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.

Lupins on Godley Peaks Road, New ZealandRoadside lupins in New Zealand

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). We visited 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. If you leave it much later (say the end of January / early February) you might not have much luck.

Lake Tekapo lupins

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

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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