Lake Tekapo Walkway

Mount / Mt John Summit via Lake Shore

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  • Reviews  86%
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Time: 3 hours return | Distance: 7 km return

A sign at the top of Mount John, where there is also an observatory, states: “Probably the best place on the planet for a cafe.” It’s also a viewpoint worth climbing for.

Photos

Maps

Contact

Access

Mount John Walkway is signposted from near the Tekapo Springs complex in Tekapo. Follow the lakeshore road 1 km, passing the campground, to the parking area on the left.

Track

It’s a steady ascent of over 300 metres to Mount John. At first you are passing through coniferous forests, with a dusty sparse understorey. Breaking out of the vegetation near the summit is the start of the breathtaking views over the vast expanse of McKenzie Country and New Zealand highest peaks in the distance.

Stop for a coffee.

The Summit Circuit continues in a direction looking up the lake as it starts it’s descent through the sheep grazed paddocks. The track is signposted, but can be difficult to decipher. There are occasional orange topped poles and stiles.

The track eventually doubles back on itself, skirting above the turquoise lake waters, re-entering forest before arriving back near the hot springs complex.

Stop for a soak.

Geology

The McKenzie country is a moonscape. This elevated plateau was infilled by the outwash of glaciations. During Ice Ages, glaciers forming in the high peaks of the Southern Alps, disgorged vast quantities of material during their retreat. These meltwater rivers carried gravels, sands and silts, dumping their load in the natural contours and flattening them out.

Lying at altitude of over 600 metres and being in the rainshadow of the mountains, the dry, cold country around Lake Tekapo experiences a continental climate similar to Siberia. Summers are very hot, winters are very cold and there is little rainfall. This is why the area is so arid and dusty.

Flora

Introduced lupins flower in December and January creating foreground for the enviable photos collected by international travellers.

Polynesian History

Maori rarely venture into these isolated parts, although it is likely they would have chased moa, who browsed the totara colonising the area.

European History

James McKenzie is one of those characters who has become larger that life over the course of time. So much has embellished the facts, that it is difficult to separate fact from fiction when recounting stories of his eventful life.

It is known he was imprisoned in 1855 on the charge of stealing sheep from Level Station. He travelled Canterbury and Otago with his bullock and dog, Friday. He was known for his cunning, strength and rebellious spirit - qualities that endeared him to the many other sheep drovers and farm workers, resentful of the rules and regulation imposed by wealthy landowners.

It is said McKenzie ‘discovered’ the area that now bear his name on one of his forays with sheep he was either droving or stealing.

44 reviews with the most recent first, showing page 1 of 4.

Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Fredrik Lundberg's avatar

Fredrik Lundberg

New Zealand

Ranking: 10/10

Beautiful views and a nice intermediate hike.

Reviewed over 1 year ago and experienced in February 2017

Nolwen's avatar

Nolwen

France

Ranking: 7/10

Nice view up there of the lake and Southern Alps - very windy!! Easy walk along the shore on the way back.

Reviewed over 1 year ago and experienced in November 2016

Conservation Campsite Pass

Save up to 70% on campsite fees! Support conservation and experience the natural beauty of NZ. 93 Department of Conservation campsites, one convenient pass.

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Anthony Terry's avatar

Anthony Terry

New Zealand

Ranking: 7/10

Fabulous walk with diverse views but could have been better sign posted. Amazing at the top!

Reviewed over 1 year ago and experienced in November 2016

Celine's avatar

Celine

France

Ranking: 9/10

Awesome place, it was our first place to visit, beautiful view of the water, a lot of wind - but really nice view. Nice spot for a swim, even at 15 degrees.

Reviewed over 1 year ago and experienced in March 2016

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Michael L's avatar

Michael L

France

Ranking: 9/10

We have done a very nice walk at this beautiful lake. The view is amazing. The lake is cold for a swim but impossible not to go.

Reviewed over 1 year ago and experienced in March 2016

Jean-Pierre Guillon's avatar

Jean-Pierre Guillon

France

Ranking: 9/10

Very nice walk in a beautiful area with an amazing view of the Remarkable Lake. It is also great that they have a cafe at the top to enjoy coffee/tea etc.

Reviewed about 2 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Avoid Camping Fines!

The only camping map where each location is approved by every regional council in NZ. So if it shows on the map, you’re allowed to stay.

The Rankers Camping NZ app, is also in association with…

Coralie Dhenin's avatar

Coralie Dhenin

France

Ranking: 8/10

One of the best views in New Zealand, 360 degree view, different landscape in the same place. Don't hestitate, do not miss this.

Reviewed about 2 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Marie's avatar

Marie

Germany

Ranking: 10/10

This is the best track I have ever walked. Stunning was the 360 degree view from Mt Jon and an interesting observatory.

Reviewed about 2 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Camping NZ App Icon

Camping NZ App

Every camping site on your iPhone™, iPad™ or Android™ phone or tablet. Avoid camping penalties using this council approved app. Featuring offline maps.

Download from the App Store Download Android app on Google Play

Ivan Dupont's avatar

Ivan Dupont

France

Ranking: 8/10

So windy but really beautiful, an amazing view of Tekapo Lake!

Reviewed over 2 years ago and experienced in January 2016

Lucy Mulvin's avatar

Lucy Mulvin

United Kingdom

Ranking: 9/10

Stunning walk, the view is beautiful.

Reviewed over 2 years ago

Award-1-24px Congratulations Lake Tekapo Walkway - Mount / Mt John Summit via Lake Shore

Rankers TravellerVoted Awards 2013 Top Free Day Walk Winner

Mark's avatar

Mark

Netherlands

Ranking: 9/10

Nice views, good climb.

Reviewed almost 4 years ago and experienced in March 2014

Jeroen Suijlang's avatar

Jeroen Suijlang

Netherlands

Ranking: 8/10

Beautiful on a sunny day. Great views, definitely recommend. Do not go there on a cloudy day.

Reviewed about 4 years ago and experienced in March 2014

Julian Kuemme's avatar

Julian Kuemme

Germany

Ranking: 8/10

Easy walk up to the Astro Centre. Beautiful view over the valley and Lake Tekapo.

Reviewed about 4 years ago and experienced in March 2014

44 reviews with the most recent first, showing page 1 of 4.

Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Fredrik Lundberg's avatar

Fredrik Lundberg

New Zealand

Ranking: 10/10

Beautiful views and a nice intermediate hike.

Reviewed over 1 year ago and experienced in February 2017

Nolwen's avatar

Nolwen

France

Ranking: 7/10

Nice view up there of the lake and Southern Alps - very windy!! Easy walk along the shore on the way back.

Reviewed over 1 year ago and experienced in November 2016

Conservation Campsite Pass

Save up to 70% on campsite fees! Support conservation and experience the natural beauty of NZ. 93 Department of Conservation campsites, one convenient pass.

Get the Pass

Anthony Terry's avatar

Anthony Terry

New Zealand

Ranking: 7/10

Fabulous walk with diverse views but could have been better sign posted. Amazing at the top!

Reviewed over 1 year ago and experienced in November 2016

Celine's avatar

Celine

France

Ranking: 9/10

Awesome place, it was our first place to visit, beautiful view of the water, a lot of wind - but really nice view. Nice spot for a swim, even at 15 degrees.

Reviewed over 1 year ago and experienced in March 2016

Top Ranked NZ Deals Pass

Access savings worth hundreds of $$ on Top Ranked NZ Accommodation and Activities for just $1 per day.

Get deals pass

Michael L's avatar

Michael L

France

Ranking: 9/10

We have done a very nice walk at this beautiful lake. The view is amazing. The lake is cold for a swim but impossible not to go.

Reviewed over 1 year ago and experienced in March 2016

Jean-Pierre Guillon's avatar

Jean-Pierre Guillon

France

Ranking: 9/10

Very nice walk in a beautiful area with an amazing view of the Remarkable Lake. It is also great that they have a cafe at the top to enjoy coffee/tea etc.

Reviewed about 2 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Avoid Camping Fines!

The only camping map where each location is approved by every regional council in NZ. So if it shows on the map, you’re allowed to stay.

The Rankers Camping NZ app, is also in association with…

Coralie Dhenin's avatar

Coralie Dhenin

France

Ranking: 8/10

One of the best views in New Zealand, 360 degree view, different landscape in the same place. Don't hestitate, do not miss this.

Reviewed about 2 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Marie's avatar

Marie

Germany

Ranking: 10/10

This is the best track I have ever walked. Stunning was the 360 degree view from Mt Jon and an interesting observatory.

Reviewed about 2 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Camping NZ App Icon

Camping NZ App

Every camping site on your iPhone™, iPad™ or Android™ phone or tablet. Avoid camping penalties using this council approved app. Featuring offline maps.

Download from the App Store Download Android app on Google Play

Ivan Dupont's avatar

Ivan Dupont

France

Ranking: 8/10

So windy but really beautiful, an amazing view of Tekapo Lake!

Reviewed over 2 years ago and experienced in January 2016

Lucy Mulvin's avatar

Lucy Mulvin

United Kingdom

Ranking: 9/10

Stunning walk, the view is beautiful.

Reviewed over 2 years ago

Award-1-24px Congratulations Lake Tekapo Walkway - Mount / Mt John Summit via Lake Shore

Rankers TravellerVoted Awards 2013 Top Free Day Walk Winner

Mark's avatar

Mark

Netherlands

Ranking: 9/10

Nice views, good climb.

Reviewed almost 4 years ago and experienced in March 2014

Jeroen Suijlang's avatar

Jeroen Suijlang

Netherlands

Ranking: 8/10

Beautiful on a sunny day. Great views, definitely recommend. Do not go there on a cloudy day.

Reviewed about 4 years ago and experienced in March 2014

Julian Kuemme's avatar

Julian Kuemme

Germany

Ranking: 8/10

Easy walk up to the Astro Centre. Beautiful view over the valley and Lake Tekapo.

Reviewed about 4 years ago and experienced in March 2014