Lake Tekapo (town)

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Lake Tekapo
Town
Location of Tekapo in New Zealand
Location of Tekapo in New Zealand
Lake Tekapo
Coordinates: 44°00′S 170°29′E / 44.000°S 170.483°E / -44.000; 170.483Coordinates: 44°00′S 170°29′E / 44.000°S 170.483°E / -44.000; 170.483
Country New Zealand
Regional Council Environment Canterbury
District Council Mackenzie District Council

Lake Tekapo is a small town located at the southern end of the lake of the same name in the inland South Island of New Zealand. It had 303 residents according to the 2001 Census, being one of five settlements in the sparsely populated Mackenzie Basin. On average, Lake Tekapo has 2180 sunshine hours (200 hours more than the New Zealand average) and 78 rain days producing 600 mm rainfall annually.[1] Temperature is generally warm in summer and extremely cold in winter.

SH 8 runs directly through the township of Lake Tekapo - 227 km from Christchurch and 256 km from Queenstown. Daily shuttle services link Lake Tekapo to Christchurch and Queenstown. The lake alongside with township is a popular tourist destination, and several resort hotels are located at the township. Tekapo Aerodrome is located 5 km west of the town. Chartered flights are available at locally based operator Air Safaris.[2]

History[edit]

The Maori were the first people discovered the Mackenzie Basin. The name Tekapo derives from the Maori words taka (sleeping mat) and po (night). The Mackenzie Basin only became known to Europeans until 1855. In order to find a less conspicuous route, James Mackenzie, a Scottish sheep stealer, ventured inland and discovered the high country that now bears his name. In 1857, John and Barbara Hay established the first sheep farm in Mackenzie on the shore of Lake Tekapo.[3]

Lake Tekapo township started to grow since the construction of hydropower stations in the 1930s. The project was delayed a little bit due to the World War II, but it was eventually completed and commissioned in 1951.[3] The Church of the Good Shepherd was built in 1935. Now, it opens to public from 9am to 5pm during summer (Oct to Apr) and 10am to 4pm in winter (May to Sept). Dog Statue, which is dedicated to the working collies of Mackenzie, was commissioned on 7 March 1968.[1]

Climate[edit]

Lake Tekapo has an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfb) with mild, sunny summers and cold, damp winters. Summers On average, Lake Tekapo has 2180 sunshine hours (200 hours more than the New Zealand average) and 78 rain days producing 600 mm rainfall annually.[1] Temperature is generally warm in summer and extremely cold in winter, by New Zealand standards.

Climate data for Lake Tekapo (1981−2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 21.6
(70.9)
21.3
(70.3)
18.7
(65.7)
14.9
(58.8)
10.7
(51.3)
7.0
(44.6)
5.8
(42.4)
8.3
(46.9)
11.9
(53.4)
14.5
(58.1)
17.2
(63)
19.4
(66.9)
14.3
(57.7)
Daily mean °C (°F) 15.2
(59.4)
14.8
(58.6)
12.4
(54.3)
9.2
(48.6)
5.9
(42.6)
2.6
(36.7)
1.4
(34.5)
3.6
(38.5)
6.5
(43.7)
8.8
(47.8)
11.1
(52)
13.2
(55.8)
8.7
(47.7)
Average low °C (°F) 8.7
(47.7)
8.3
(46.9)
6.1
(43)
3.5
(38.3)
1.1
(34)
−1.8
(28.8)
−3.0
(26.6)
−1.1
(30)
1.1
(34)
3.0
(37.4)
5.1
(41.2)
7.0
(44.6)
3.2
(37.8)
Precipitation mm (inches) 43.6
(1.717)
35.9
(1.413)
48.8
(1.921)
45.2
(1.78)
56.5
(2.224)
60.0
(2.362)
49.6
(1.953)
58.4
(2.299)
50.4
(1.984)
49.5
(1.949)
41.3
(1.626)
52.2
(2.055)
591.6
(23.291)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 5.8 5.3 5.5 6.0 6.7 7.5 6.5 7.4 7.3 7.6 6.2 7.1 78.9
 % humidity 66.8 74.9 75.3 76.9 78.7 83.9 83.1 81.2 72.5 68.7 65.0 67.4 74.5
Mean monthly sunshine hours 253.8 220.9 230.9 199.4 145.4 139.9 149.7 170.1 200.0 231.7 241.5 234.0 2,417.4
Source: NIWA Climate Data[4]

Mount John University Observatory[edit]

Selected for its very clear atmosphere, large number of clear sky nights, and lack of light pollution, Mount John University Observatory is located on a small hill to the south of the town, and north of the small Lake Alexandrina. Originally set up by the University of Pennsylvania (looking for a southern hemisphere location), it is now operated by the University of Canterbury. From 1969 to 1982, the United States Air Force had a satellite tracking station adjacent to the observatory. In June 2012 an area of 430,000 hectares (1,100,000 acres) around Tekapo was declared the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve by the International Dark-Sky Association, one of only four such reserves around the world.[5]

Military base[edit]

The New Zealand Army has a large training range located at Tekapo. It is used for general military exercises and for pre-deployment training of forces being sent to Afghanistan.[6]

Lake Tekapo township as seen from the close-by Mount John University Observatory


References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Information on Lake Tekapo". Tekapo Tourism. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  2. ^ "Tekapo Tourism - Lake Tekapo". Tekapo Tourism. 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "History of Mackenzie Country". Department of Conservation. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  4. ^ "Climate Data and Activities". NIWA. Retrieved October 19, 2013. 
  5. ^ "New Zealand’s Aoraki Mackenzie Named World’s Largest International Dark Sky Reserve". International Dark Sky Association. 9 June 2012. Retrieved 13 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "Lake Tekapo". New Zealand A to Z. 11 April 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2013.