Beautiful mountains, a turquoise lake, and world-famous dark skies. There’s no doubt Lake Tekapo is a special place. But we often find visitors don’t realise how much there is to see and do!
At The Cairns Alpine Resort, we aim to be brilliant hosts. To help you plan your trip, our team has put together a list of our favourite Tekapo activities. Pack the sunscreen, round up the kids or your mates (or both!) and escape to The Cairns this summer. Allow plenty of time to play, relax, explore and try some - or all - of these amazing experiences on your Tekapo holiday.
Did you know The Cairns Alpine Resort includes its own private golf course? Not only that, but we offer complimentary golf with all accommodation bookings. And surely, it’s one of New Zealand’s most picturesque courses, with stunning panoramic views. The Simpson family designed the course to work with the natural shape and features of the landscape. Learn more about our golf course from cricket legend Stephen Fleming, PGA Tour winner Phil Tataurangi and Mark Leishman, who visited on a boys winter golfing road trip:
Our mate Summer runs things at Mackenzie Alpine Horse Trekking and offers horse treks from 30 minutes to 3.5 hours in length. She can recommend treks that are suitable for all ages and skill levels, so it’s easy for everyone to hit the trails on horseback. Best of all, the treks offer beautiful views over the Mackenzie Basin and Lake Tekapo!
A scenic flight over the Southern Alps is a truly unforgettable experience. Expert pilots like our friend Mark Pridham, owner/operator of Mackenzie Helicopters, can design flights for your adventure or special occasion - everything from scenic tours with glacier or alpine landings to epic marriage proposals. We work with Mark at Mackenzie Helicopters and also The Helicopter Line to arrange helicopter tours to see the Alps from the air. For airplane flights, Air Safaris offers great options like their legendary Grand Traverse flight.
No Tekapo holiday could be complete without a visit to Tekapo Springs. Whether you want to splash and play, or soak and spa, this is one of Tekapo’s most popular spots. In summer Tekapo Springs features not only its famous hot pools, but also an Aqua Play cool pool and Jumpernaut giant inflatable obstacle course. And don’t forget the Glacial Day Spa and Altitude 720 Cafe & Bar!
The views from Lake Tekapo’s many walks are extraordinary, and you don’t have to go far from town - even a short stroll can be rewarding. Our digital marketing guru, Megan, spends most of her free time in the hills and swears by taking time out to find inspiration on a walk. Check out Cowans Hill to see rare kakī/black stilt birds in hilltop tarns, or for a more dramatic panoramic view, hike to the top of Mt John.
Tekapo is the original home of astrotourism in New Zealand, where stargazing tours began at Mt John Observatory. It’s also located at the heart of the world-famous Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. While you’re here, you simply must take time to look up. If you want to get a closer view, our next door neighbours, Silver River Stargazing, offer guided tours. View the constellations through telescopes and learn about the features of our Southern sky.
Tekapo township is surrounded by high country stations and wilderness, where few visitors get the opportunity to travel. Access to the backcountry typically requires a 4WD vehicle and special permission from landowners. Luckily, operators like Tekapo Adventures offer scenic 4WD tours to take you across historic high country stations and deep into the Mackenzie Country’s hidden valleys. Escape the familiar tourist route and explore the backcountry.
Tekapo is a hub of both the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail and many, many mountain biking trails, making it a great destination for off-road cycling. Get out on a bike for a day ride on the A2O or a few hours exploring the trails of the Lake Tekapo Regional Park (where you can often find our property manager and all-around team mum, Lisa!). Didn’t bring a bike? No worries! The Cairns works with local outfitters such as our neighbour Annie at Bespoke Bikes, who sorts all our guests’ cycling needs.
Tucked away near Tekapo township, in the rolling landscape of the Mackenzie Basin, is a beautiful lake. No, we’re not talking about Lake Tekapo! This is pretty little Lake Alexandrina, where many locals have cribs and baches. Situated parallel to the much larger and more famous Lake Tekapo, Lake Alex is often overshadowed by its brilliant neighbour. But this hidden gem is a serene protected wildlife area free from motorised watercraft and perfect for a peaceful afternoon outing. (You might spot our GM, Andy, hiding away there if we let him out of the office.) Pack a picnic - our team will help you arrange one! - and visit a local favourite spot.
There’s no denying it - in Tekapo, our big, beautiful, glacier-fed lake is the hero. There are many ways to get out and enjoy the water. Paddle Tekapo offers stand-up paddleboard and kayak hire on the lakefront, while Tekapo Jet operates jet boat trips for those seeking a lake tour with an added shot of adrenaline. If those aren’t for you, just pop down to the swimming area and go for a dip. Whatever your preferred activity, in Tekapo, it’s all about the lake!