The long, narrow expanse of Lake Tekapo anchors the area. Its extraordinary milky-turquoise color comes from rock flour, rock ground by glacial action and held in a soupy suspension. Tekapo, the country's highest large lake, has good fly-fishing in the lake and in the surrounding rivers and canals.
On the east side of the lakeside power station is the tiny Church of the Good Shepherd. The simple stone structure doesn't need stained glass; the view through the window is the lake's brilliant blue. A nearby memorial commemorates the sheepdogs of the area. As you drive into the small town, you'll notice a knot of restaurants with tour buses parked outside. It's a rather off-putting image, but it's relatively easy to keep the township at your back and your eyes on the lake and mountains. If you're not planning to stay at Mt. Cook, then Tekapo is the best place in the Mackenzie Basin to stop for the night. And once the buses have passed through for the day, it's a quiet spot—at least until the hordes of Cantabrians arrive for the summer break. A pleasant lakefront recreation area separates the town retail area from the lakeshore.