Spot Guide | Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo New Zealand


Spot Guide

Lake Tekapo, the Northern-most lake of our Canterbury Lakes Discovery Trip, offers fantastic scenic views – a landscape right out of Lord of the Rings. 

We give you the run down on what you can expect here. 

Geography of Lake Tekapo:

Lake Tekapo is about 3 hours drive south-west of Christchurch and 45 minutes from Twizel (where we base ourselves for the Canterbury Lakes Discovery Trip). It is well know for the small village at the south end of the lake with the Church of the Good Shepard.

Tekapo village is a busy little town. It has got a supermarket, accommodation in all price ranges, several gas stations, cafes and restaurants. There are also some nice hotpools and the area is famous for its fantastic stargazing.

The scenery is dominated by high snowcapped mountains and wide open tussock and grass land. Quintessential New Zealand!

Lake Tekapo New Zealand with Wings in foreground

Wind and water conditions:

Lake Tekapo is at 710m above sea level. It is fed on its northern end by the Godley River and Macauly River, which have their sources in the Southern Alps. The meltwater from the Southern Alps is tinged with a light turquoise colour from the glacial silt. This gives Lake Tekapo its distinctive milky blue colour. The water temperature is around 18-20 degrees Celsius in the summer months.

It is one of those places that is absolutely magic when it’s on, but boy-oh-boy, it is hard to get the conditions right to have it really good there. Consider Lake Tekapo as a bonus, not as your bread-and-butter spot when exploring the area. 

We tend to go to Lake Tekapo mainly on an Easterly or Southerly forecast and make the most of the sea breezes. The water is then relatively flat (not that much fetch to build up a wave). You can also get good conditions in a strong Northwester. Be aware, the lake is long and has a good fetch – there is a fair bit of wave at the southern end when it’s really blowing!

Lake Tekapo New Zealand

Rigging area and water access:

There is a public road (gravel) going along the east side of the lake all the way to the top, though it has hardly any public lake access and the shoreline is very steep. Best and easiest access is at the south-eastern end of the lake at the Old Homestead. There is plenty of parking, a public toilet and a disc golf course in that area. 

Rigging is on grass, access to the water is over some gravel. It can be a bit slippery but is usually not too bad.


There might be the odd other person on the water, but more likely than not you will be the only one. There is a good chance you’ll feature on some tourist photo!


If you like traveling, exploring and windsurfing and / or winging off the beaten track, then Lake Tekapo is definitely a place to explore. But it pays to get to know the local weather pattern. 

If you are by yourself, be aware that the weather can change super quickly. Keep an eye on what’s happening around you and – if you can – let someone know what you are up to. 

Looking to travel New Zealand? Check out Water Nomads for Watersports Rental and Surfari Trips!

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