Lake Tekapo lupins along the Foreshore

A Guide to Seeing the Lake Tekapo Lupins, New Zealand

Last Updated: 29th October, 2023

Lake Tekapo‘s most iconic and instantly recognizable images often feature the lakefront adorned with vibrant pink and purple lupins, creating a breathtaking contrast against the brilliant turquoise waters. This striking scene is nothing short of incredible and is practically made for stunning Instagram-worthy photos. Here, find out all you need to know when planning to see the beautiful Lake Tekapo Lupins, including the best spots to visit!

The Lake Tekapo Lupins in a Nutshell!

The Lake Tekapo lupins have since become famous for their striking beauty, and they have spread throughout the beautiful Mackenzie district of the Canterbury region. Their vibrant colors, which include shades of pink, purple, blue, and white, contrast beautifully with the turquoise waters of the lake and the surrounding snow-capped mountains. This stunning landscape has made Lake Tekapo and its lupins a popular destination for photographers and tourists!

Lake Tekapo Lupins along the foreshore
Lake Tekapo Lupins along the foreshore

FAQs about the Lake Tekapo Lupins

What are the Lake Tekapo Lupins?

How long is the Lake Tekapo lupin flowering season?

How tall are the Lake Tekapo lupins?

What is the Best Time to See Lake Tekapo Lupins?

The best time to see the Lake Tekapo lupins is during the Southern Hemisphere’s late spring to early summer, which typically falls between late November and early January. This is when the lupins are in full bloom, creating a breathtaking and vivid display of color along the lakefront. During this period, the lupins are at their most vibrant, with the hills and fields surrounding Lake Tekapo carpeted in shades of pink, purple, and blue!

The Best Spots to see the Lake Tekapo Lupins!

During summer, you can see the Lake Tekapo lupins blooming around the lake front and the surrounding Mackenzie District. They bloom almost everywhere at Lake Tekapo, so during summer you won’t be able to miss them. However, if you are looking for the best displays of the Lake Tekapo lupins, then you should head to one of these following spots:

  1. Lake Tekapo Lupin Field
  2. Around the Church of the Good Shepherd
  3. Along the Drive to Mt John
  4. Lake Tekapo Foreshore
  5. Lake Tekapo Canal
  6. Along Braemar Road heading towards Lake Pukaki

1. The Lake Tekapo Lupin Field

One of the most beautiful and densely-populated areas to see the Lake Tekapo lupins is a field along the State Highway 8, on the way into Lake Tekapo from Christchurch. This field is incredible to see, with thick, vibrant purples and pink lupins stretching from the roadside back to the base of the golden hills behind.

Location: Along State Highway 8, in the drive from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo. The field is roughly 2 km before you reach Lake Tekapo township, on the right-hand side of the road.

Parking: There is a small carpark on the opposite side of the road to the Lake Tekapo Lupin Field, which can fit a couple of cars. If this is full, your best bet is to park down in the Tekapo Regional Park and walk along the road to the Lupin Field, as there is limited parking along the State Highway.

Lake Tekapo Lupin Field

Note: Please keep in mind that this field is private property, and is not accessible without permission. Over recent years it has become over-crowded, and so the owners have put up a fence to stop people walking through the fields. Remember to be respectful, and enjoy the Lake Tekapo lupins from a distance!

Cowan’s Hill Walkway

Cowans Hill Walkway

The best way to view these lupins is to walk the stunning Cowan’s Hill Walkway, which will pass by the Lake Tekapo Lupin Field on State Highway 8! As you walk up the hill from the road, you can get incredible views over the lupin field and beyond.

2. Church of the Good Shepherd

One of the most famous and recognisable icons of Lake Tekapo is the charming Church of the Good Shepherd. Nestled right on the shores of the vibrant lake, this is an photographers dream during the summer months, when the golden tussock-grass around the church becomes covered with pink and purple lupins!

Lake Tekapo Lupins around the church of the good shepherd

Location: Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo foreshore

Parking: There is a couple of car parks around the Church of the Good Shepherd. The main car park is right next to the church, however this can get extremely busy with tour buses during the summer months! There is also a car park on the other side of the Maclearen Footbridge, only a few minutes walk from the church.

Visiting the Church of the Good Shepherd

The Church of the Good Shepherd is located only 10-minutes walk from the center of town, with a beautiful walk across the Maclaren Footbridge and down onto the lakefront. The walkway is a well-maintained and smooth gravel walkway, and easily accessible from the main center.

3. Along the Drive to Mount John

If you are looking to find some lupins a little way out of the main Lake Tekapo Village, then a great place to explore is along the drive from Lake Tekapo township towards Mt John and Lake Alexandrina! The Godley Peaks road winds its way through golden tussock-grass and around the base of Mt John, before splitting off onto and arriving at the beautiful and secluded Lake Alexandrina. This is a stunning spot to see some of the vibrant Lake Tekapo Lupins, and as it’s a little further out, you are likely to have this area all to yourself!

Lake Tekapo Lupins, New Zealand

Location: Godley Peaks Road, Lake Tekapo

Parking: There is no official car parks as the lupin field is just along the side of the road, however it is a quiet road and you can pull off to the side for a photo or two!

4. Lake Tekapo Foreshore

During the warm summer months, the grassy areas along Lake Tekapo’s foreshore becomes adorned with vibrant lupin blossoms, creating one of the most iconic and stunning images of Lake Tekapo! Their incredible colors span a spectrum of pinks, purples, and whites, forming a breathtaking contrast against the backdrop of Lake Tekapo’s vivid turquoise waters.

Lake Tekapo Foreshore

Location: Domain Road, Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo Foreshore Walk

One of the best walks to experience the magic of Lake Tekapo lupins is the Lake Tekapo foreshore walk! This short walk follows the shoreline of Lake Tekapo, all the way from the township to the base of Mount John. The path is wide and rocky, and gives you an awesome opportunity to stop and enjoy the Lake Tekapo lupins along the way!

5. Lake Tekapo Canal

One of my favourite hidden gems of Lake Tekapo is the rugged and beautiful area behind the town, along the stunning Tekapo Canal. This area is off the beaten-path, and is mostly visited by keen fishermen or cyclists completing a section of the Alps to Ocean.

The scenery along the canal is stunning, with bright green pines, golden tussock grass, and the vivid blue waters of the glacial canal as it rushes towards Lake Pukaki. There is a well-maintained road that follows both sides of the canal, as well as rocky paths that head down to the Tekapo River that winds its way beside it. During the summer months, this rocky river bed fills with beautiful Lake Tekapo lupins, adding an incredible splash of color to the golden landscape.

Location: Tekapo Canal Road, Lake Tekapo

6. Braemer Road towards Lake Pukaki

If you are looking for a more adventurous ‘lupin-hunting’ experience in the stunning Mackenzie back-country, drive out onto the back roads between Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki! Only a few minutes drive from Lake Tekapo is Braemer Road, a gravel road that heads out around Balmoral Station and through golden high-country landscape, before emerging on the Eastern shores of the beautiful Lake Pukaki. This road is often missed by tourists, and can be surrounded by beautiful fields of lupins during the summer season!

Lake Pukaki view from accommodation in Twizel

Location: Braemer Road, Lake Tekapo. To get here, drive west out of Lake Tekapo along the SH8 towards Lake Pukaki. After around 5 minutes you will see Braemer Road heading off to the left. The road is 22km of well-maintained gravel road, and will take you out to a beautiful and secluded spot along Lake Pukaki – a good afternoon trip out!

Other Places to See Lupins in New Zealand

1. Burkes Pass

If you are driving from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo, then make sure to keep your eyes peeled for patches of lupins along the sides of State Highway 8 between Lake Tekapo and Fairlie, especially through the Burkes Pass. There are often beautiful sections through here, adding a splash of colour to your drive!

Burkes Pass is a fun place to explore on the drive no matter the time of year! This tiny village in the heart of the Mackenzie backcountry is a hidden gem – filled to the brim with American retro-collectables, artwork, classic cars, and a historic 1950s service station!

Location: 2119 Fairlie-Tekapo Road, Burkes Pass, Canterbury

2. Ahuriri River

Vibrant lupins are also found nearer the southern end of the Mackenzie region, with dense strands found along the banks of the stunning Ahuriri River. Here, you can stop at the Ahuriri Bridge Conservation Area and wander down to the crystal-clear waters of the Ahuriri River, and hopefully spot some lupins! This is also a popular place for fishing and camping.

Location: Ahuriri Bridge Campsite, just outside of Omarama

3. Omarama Clay Cliffs

One of the highlights of Omarama is the magnificent and breathtaking Omarama Clay Cliffs! These Clay Cliffs are an incredible natural attraction to visit, and are a must-do if you are passing through the area.

An added bonus to visiting the Clay Cliffs in the summer months is enjoying the vibrant pink and purple lupins that line the base of the cliffs – making for some pretty stunning photos!

Location: Henburn Road, Omarama 9412, New Zealand

4. Lindis Pass Lupins

As you drive from Lake Tekapo to Queenstown, one of the highlights is driving through the breathtaking Lindis Pass. This dramatic mountain pass links the Mackenzie Basin with Central Otago, and makes for one of my favourite sections of road in the South Island! During the summer, the golden tussock landscape becomes carpeted with colourful lupins, creating some spectacular scenery!

lindis pass new zealand

5. The Catlins!

Down in the stunning Catlins region of New Zealand’s South Island you will find lupins of a different kind! Along the banks of the beautiful Papatowai River are the bright Yellow Bush Lupins (Lupinus arboreus). These beautiful lupins are often found along river-beds, and grow up to 1-2 meters tall! These lupins have a longer flowering time, and you are likely to see them blooming in springtime (November to December).

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