Vested as a soil conservation reserve, the park is covered by coniferous forest allowing for a play and leisure area starkly contrasting the surrounding landscape.
Views across the lake to Mount John and up to the Godley Valley, which leads to the highest section of the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana, add to the visitors' experience.
The Park can be accessed by car from Lilybank Road or by foot and bicycle from the Lake Tekapo Township along the lake edge or from Cowans Hill.
Click on the map below to see where and how you can access the Lake Tekapo Regional Park:
View larger map (jpg 197 kB)
Download map (pdf 1.72 MB)
The newest of Environment Canterbury's Regional Parks, the development of park infrastructure has only commenced over the past year. However, visitors can experience walking and cycling trails, access to the lakeside for swimming and kayaking and; cross country skiing during the winter months. There are also numerous picnic spots throughout the park.
During the current year, the park will be enhanced with new disabled access toilet facilities, upgraded walking and mountain bike trails and improved access to and along the lake edge.
An interesting feature is the old rabbiters' hut located at the northern end of the park and the indigenous biodiversity area at the bottom of an ephemeral stream coming down from the Mt Hay Station tarns.
Motor vehicle access to the Lakeside opens at 7 am and; closes at 6 pm during the winter months and 10 pm during the daylight saving months.
The Lake Tekapo Regional Park is in the takiwā of Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua.
The LTRP Incorporated Society is a community group who's aims to provide support and advice to Environment Canterbury while promoting the Park as a working example of sustainable soil conservation and recreational management in the Mackenzie Basin.
Maori called the lake Takapo, which means to ‘leave by night’. Takapo was often occupied by Ngāi Tahu and, like most lakes, there are traditions of a taniwha (monster) connected with it. Tradition has it that the tohunga (spiritual leader) Te Maiharoa is the only person to have swum the lake and escaped the taniwha.
Takapo served as a mahinga kai for South Canterbury Ngāi Tahu. Waterfowl and eel were the main foods taken from this lake.
It was not until the mid 1850s that the first Europeans ventured into the Mackenzie Basin.
The Park was originally part of the Tekapo Station taken up by John Hay and his uncle Ebenezer Hay.
According to Frederick Chapman's report to the Otago Institute in 1884, it would appear that erosion of the land, now forming the LTRP, started early after European settlement.
Early in March 1884, on an excursion to Aoraki/Mount Cook, he stopped at Lake Tekapo. Frederick observed, "As the lake is approached from Burke's Pass a large uninviting patch of sandy country may be noticed surrounding the woolshed of Mr Cowans station. A hundred acres or so of country here have a very unpleasing appearance. Something has set the sand moving in a south-easterly direction and cannot stop it. A large part of the ground has been stripped of the loose friable soil down to a hard bed, which dries and crumbles in the sun and is set moving by the wind". Chapman's report also noted the presence of moa bones in the area of today's park.
The final station owner, Lucy Wills, lived there between 1929 and 1946 and surrendered the whole of Tekapo Station including Mount Edwards in 1948. It was then apportioned between Mt Hay and Sawdon Stations.
The completion of the Lake Tekapo dam in 1951 submerged the homestead site.
The issue of erosion continued to be a concern as the highway was closed from
time to time by drifting sands.
The area was fenced and the first tree planting commenced in 1957, with vesting as a Soil Conservation Reserve occurring in 1963.
This plan illustrates how the Lake Tekapo Regional Park will be developed and managed:
Lake Tekapo Regional Park Management Plan (pdf 1.30 MB)
Large photograph of Lake Tekapo Regional Park (pdf 2.21 MB)
Lake Tekapo Regional Park - map (pdf 725 kB)
(03) 353 9007
0800 324 636 (EC INFO)
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