When planning our New Zealand holiday, I was hoping to see the Aurora Australis. The top location that kept popping up was Lake Tekapo and the Dark Sky Reserve. How can that not pique our interest? I didn’t bother searching for a stable in Tekapo, because I thought the star gazing and walking would be enough to fulfil our outdoor needs. I was so wrong!
We took the InterCity Bus from Queenstown to Tekapo, which was 4.5 hours with a whole lot of stops. The stops ranged from simple passenger pick-up and drop-offs, to quick ten-minute bathroom breaks. The bus driver gave commentaries on the history of the locations we drove through, to fun facts along the way.
We arrived in Tekapo by noon, and had to wait a few hours before we could check into our Air B&B. Luggage in tow (luckily we left most of our big pieces at the hotel in Queenstown, and only brought our carry-on bags with us), we spent time at the grocery store, then the playground right behind it. We loved the playground! Views of the gorgeous lake, swings, zip line, it was the best way to pass the time.
Finding A Stable
Making our way to the Black House, we started asking ourselves why we didn’t google horse treks in Tekapo! It’s such a stunning location, how could we not do what we love the most, with the most beautiful backdrop? So, I went on Google, and lo and behold! There is a stable!! Mackenzie Alpine Horse Trekking, and the treks go up and over Mount John, then along the lake! One phone call, and we were booked for the next day!
We requested for the stables to pick us up from the city center since we didn’t have a car. We waited for the pick up at the grocery, and a quick ten minute drive we were with horses! They gave us a quick briefing on how their horses are ridden, and off we went! We opted for the two hour Mountain Top Trek, and oh the views!
You start the trek going around the base of the mountain, then make your way up and over. When you reach the top, our breath was taken away by the gorgeous view point with overlooking the lake! A few photos later, we make our way down and around the base of the mountain on the other side, where you walk along the rim of the lake.
Walking along the trek you get a sense of how harsh and dry the endemic New Zealand environment is. The rocky paths, with low vegetation growing. You see a lot of birds, and a whole lot of rabbits scurrying across. Then, coming near the end of the mountain path, you enter a pine forest, and it is surreal. From walking through low bush and grass, it was like entering a completely different world with garlands dropping from trees, and being showered with pine needles.
We then made our way into the lake for a little fun. Well, my horse seemed to have the most fun. He pawed through the water, and I thought he was just about to roll! My pants, my boots, my jacket were all drenched in freezing Tekapo water. That was quite a rush.
Making our way back to the stables was again through another pine forest. Now, pine is not a local tree, and has become quite invasive to the native landscape. But, I must say, it did make for a beautiful horse trek!
We got dropped back at the grocery where we picked up dinner, and had huge smiles on our faces. We were close to ending our South Island holiday, and it was the best trek we had on our trip! Tekapo is one of the most beautiful destinations we have ever been to, and we fell in love. The landscape, the horses, the people, the food. If given the chance, we would definitely return!
What Else Did We Do?
Other things to do in Tekapo is definitely a trip with Earth and Sky Tours up to the Mount John Observatory. A quick insight into what it’s like to be an astronomer, and pointing out stars and constellations is not something you get to do everyday! No photographs allowed during the tour because the light of your phone can interfere with how your eyes adjust to the dark. Even the light bulbs around are red or deep yellow to maintain the Dark Sky Reserve.
A quick walk to the Church of the Good Shepherd is also a must. I have never been so moved by a church. It is an interdenominational church, but holds Catholic mass. There’s nothing fancy about it, but I left the church teary eyed. Stone walls and simple wooden interiors, with a wall to wall glass pane overlooking the lake as the backdrop of the altar. In front of the amazing lake view lies a simple crucifix. You can’t help but be grateful for all that you have, and this beautiful world we live in.