Takapō Regional Park

Explore 165 hectares of land along the eastern shores of stunning Lake Tekapo/Takapō where you'll find picnic spots, an enclosed dog park and 24 kilometres of cycling and walking tracks.

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Facilities

Shared use mountain biking and walking tracks - 24kms of shared-use tracks. Graded easiest, easy and intermediate for mountain bikes.

Pump track

Dog park - A 2-hectare fully-fenced enclosure.

Picnic areas - Two areas with picnic tables are provided but there are plenty of other spaces with shade, shelter and water.

Car parking area

Toilet

About

Takapō Regional Park lies on the eastern shore of Lake Tekapo/Takapō against a backdrop of the Two Thumb Range.

Vested as a soil conservation reserve, we took stewardship of the 165-hectare park in 1989. Covered in conifer trees, the park has beautiful views from the walking, cycling and running tracks. You can even try cross-country skiing here in winter.

The park can be accessed by car from Lilybank Road or by foot or bicycle from the Lake Tekapo township along the lake edge or Cowans Hill.

There is a 2-hectare enclosed dog park but outside of this, dogs must be under effective control at all times.

No barbecues are provided but visitors are welcome to bring their own, provided they are gas-only and used in areas clear of vegetation. Light no fires. Dial 111 immediately if you see smoke or flames.

Lake Tekapo Recreational Society

Lake Tekapo Recreational Society is a society set up to work alongside us in the development of the Takapō Regional Park. Its goal is to provide recreation opportunities while still allowing for soil conservation, which is the reserve's underlying purpose. Its main ongoing function is to care for the park and help preserve and develop it for locals and visitors to enjoy for many years to come.

Activities

Mountain biking/ walking - 24kms of shared-use tracks. The Te Araroa Walkway which runs through the park forms part of the national Te Araroa Trail. A walking trail to the lookout provides views over the forest to Tekapo township and Mt John.

Cross country skiing – Space for cross country skiers during the winter months.

Orienteering – Stop in at the Tekapo Information Centre for details on the local club and a copy of the course map.

Swimming and boating – There are shallow areas at the lake’s edge for swimmers. Speed restriction zones apply for recreational boaties.

Disc golf – Check out the new disc golf facilities with two nine-hole courses available. One is family-friendly and the other is advanced.

History

Māori called the lake Takapō, meaning ‘leave by night’. Like many lakes of legend, it is connected to a taniwha (monster). Tradition has it that the tohunga (spiritual leader) Hipa Te Maiharoa is the only person to have swum the lake and escaped the taniwha.

The lake served as a place of mahinga kai for South Canterbury Ngāi Tahu with waterfowl and tuna (eel) at the top of the menu.
In the mid-1850s Europeans first ventured into the Mackenzie Basin. The park was originally part of the Tekapo Station taken up by John Hay and his uncle Ebenezer Hay.

An 1884 report by leading ethnologist Frederick Chapman described the area as “a large uninviting patch of sandy country” with “a very unpleasing appearance.” Certainly not something you could call Lake Tekapo and its surrounding landscape today. The report also noted moa bones in the area.

The final station owner, Lucy Wills, lived there between 1929 and 1946 and surrendered the whole of Tekapo Station in 1948. It was then apportioned between Mt Hay and Sawdon Stations. Completion of the Lake Tekapo dam in 1951 submerged the homestead site.

Soil erosion continued to be a concern and the highway was occasionally closed by drifting sands. The area was fenced and the first tree planting began in 1957. It was vested as a Soil Conservation Reserve in 1963.