NZ Lifestyle Magazine Group



Remember to save some energy after gorging on the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, for the region is packed with places to stretch the legs. There's a staggering 360° scenic payoff for making an effort on the Mt John Summit Track (left). Beginning near Tekapo Springs, this 3-hour loop track takes a gradual ascent (with some steeper moments) through forest and tussock grassland to the lofty perch that houses the Mt John Observatory. Here are the lakes Tekapo and Alexandrina, the Southern Alps, and Mackenzie Basin. The quality of the silence makes the ears smile. For visitors who want to snub the ascent-centric ways of this region and opt for a spot of horizontal wandering, the Lake Tekapo Walkway is a friend. Starting at the eastern end of the lake, it takes in the monument to collie dogs and the Church of the Good Shepherd, the Tekapo Footbridge and lakefront vistas before concluding, quite fortuitously, near the Tekapo Springs. Allow for an hour (or more if café distraction is an issue). The Pūkaki Kettle Hole Track is like a potted lesson in geology. It is an easy 1-hour loop across 4WD tracks into the Pūkaki Terminal Moraine Conservation Area (a moraine being the hitchhiking rocks dropped off by a departing glacier). Walk over tussock-covered moraine hummocks to circle the rim of a distinct kettle hole caused by the retreat of the Tasman Glacier (a kettle hole forms when a lonely chunk of glacial ice gets left behind and melts to form a depression). The visual rewards up here are huge: panoramic views of that cyanblue Pūkaki Lake, Aoraki/Mt Cook, Twizel, Ōhau and Lake Benmore. The walk begins just off SH8, east of the Pūkaki River Spillway (the car park is clearly signposted).