Chill out with the kids, skim stones, soak in hotpools and then gaze at the world’s best view of the stars. Step it up a gear and ski above the lake, ice skate with penguins and brave the ice-tubing.All pretty fantastic … even better, it’s all happening in one small village on Lake Tekapo.
What we have in the heart of the South Island is a big, natural playground for our kids, and we were keen for ours to see and experience Lake Tekapo, a unique Alpine village in The McKenzie Country. Come in from Christchurch or Queenstown (about 2 hours either way), even make it part of a skiing road trip … but don’t go past without stopping.
This is a great place all year round, but we are keen skiers and wanted to try out Roundhill, the local skifield. Also, as North Islanders, we thought it would be novel to watch a local ice hockey game, so we chose a weekend when we could have it all.
HOT POOLS These are nestled into the bank by the lake overlooking the mountain and feel very decadent on a snowy winter’s day after skiing. They have lockers and towels to rent, and because the pools are part of the Tekapo Springs complex, you are right on the ice-rink platform and next to the ice tubing, which makes it very convenient with young children.
ICE RINK Saying the kids ?skated with penguins’ is delightful and true but possibly a little misleading, as they were of the hard plastic variety, about three foot tall and very useful for wobbly little skaters. Hire everything, even an instructor if you’re super keen, and enjoy a coffee on the platform while you watch the children’s progress.
ICE TUBING This is great entertainment. It’s about 100m long and your speed will definitely depend on the conditions. If your kids are after speed, then it’s best when it’s really cold; but slightly warmer days slow it down for a more gentle run. You’ve got an hour to get in as many runs as you can, but don’t panic as there’s a magic carpet to get you up there faster.
ICE HOCKEY We decided to co-ordinate with the local ice-hockey tournament held in August, but phone 0800 23538282 (0800 2 elevate) to see what other national games are also coming up. If you want to take part in the tournament then go here to learn the proper way to hold a hockey stick. Having only seen games on telly, I was very amused to see a big fight break out between the players ? a classic ice hockey moment I thought.
TRIPPO WATERSLIDE is the world’s largest inflatable waterslide. This is a new addition to Tekapo Springs and is set up in summer-only over the ice-rink. tekaposprings.co.nz
Roundhill (family ski field)
Having struck Roundhill for the first time on their annual ?80s Day’, it’s now hard for me to imagine their crew won’t always be sporting pink spandex and mullets. (The kids of course didn’t notice it was Madonna selling us the tickets.) We really enjoyed our day here as the slopes are well-groomed and offer a good range. They have two t-bars, a platter lift for beginners, plus the world’s longest nutcracker (a very steep rope tow requiring a harness, for those of you wondering).
This is definitely a family field, with parents setting up lunchtime BBQs and picnic tables next to the carpark, and kids building snowmen. Head up to the top of the t-bar and ski to the Von Brown hut for a hot chocolate overlooking the lake while relaxing on big, snugly, white sheepskins draped over picnic tables.
To finish the day, we cheered on the skimmers, who tried their luck at skiing or snowboarding across a mini waterhole … not all escaped that cold, wet water. roundhill.co.nz
Earth and Sky tours
You will learn a lot on this tour, but best of all, you will get the best view of the stars you’ve ever seen. Chosen (by international astronomers) as one of the best spots in the world for star gazing. For little astronomers, this trip to see the observatory on Mount John is a really cool thing to do, and if the weather is too cloudy then the kids will get to see the big telescope. It can get bitterly cold up there, so not ideal for littlies or very tired children. earthandsky.co.nz
Did you know? Lake Tekapo gets its famous turquoise colour from the rock-flour (ground by glaciers) which is suspended in the water.
where we stayed
We really enjoyed our stay at Peppers. For a family of five, we found our apartment very spacious, warm and comfortable for a long weekend stay, particularly when you have ski gear, bags for Africa and kids that need a bit of run-around space. The kitchens are large and it’s easy to prepare meals, with a separate dining area, and the lounge has loads of room to watch movies, read books, play games and laze about. For us, it’s a real treat not to feel like you are falling all over each other (and your gear), and Peppers was very generous with space. There is a lovely restaurant with good coffee as part of the resort (we had ours delivered to the room). The kids can safely zoom around outside, and they have a good supply of board games in the reception area in front of the fire. peppers.co.nz
We rented a Toyota Highlander from Budget. This was easy to drive with lots of room for five of us on a winter holiday, where packing includes ski gear, warm jackets and heavy boots. Go to budget.co.nz where you can check out their latest fleet, availability and rates.
other things to do…
- Mount Cook and Westland National Parks flights airsafaris.co.nz
- Visit The Church of The Good Shepherd (good photo opportunity)
- Skim stones and play at the park down by the lake (near Tekapo Springs)
- Eat at Pepes, which has a great family vibe and good food.
By Aana Marinovich
Due to COVID ? 19, some of our NZ tourist attractions are closed either temporarily or indefinitely. Please make sure you email or ring ahead to double check their availability before you go.