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  • Address: Twizel, New Zealand

South Island ATTRACTIONS See all

Mackenzie Basin Tours

Most places in New Zealand are known for the attractions that make the area famous. In the case of the Mackenzie Basin, however, it’s what isn’t here—rather than what is—that make it such a legendary spot. Located between the cities of Queenstown and Christchurch, the Mackenzie Basin is a vast swath of dry, undulating grasslands, where the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps dramatically rise above the plains. Of the five villages inside of the basin, Twizel is the largest with about 1,000 people, whereas Tekapo, Omarama, Fairlie, and Mt Cook Village all have fewer than 800.

With the dry, clear skies and lack of development, the stars at night shine brighter here than anywhere else in New Zealand, which has led to the establishment of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. By day, the famously turquoise Lake Tekapo is a favorite of South Island photographers—not only for the stunning Church of the Good Shepard that silently sits near the shore, but also for the epic alpine backdrop that’s formed by the Southern Alps.

Practical Info

The town of Tekapo, at the center of the Mackenzie Basin, is 2 hours and 45 minutes from Christchurch and 3 hours from Queenstown. The drive on Route 8 connecting the two towns is one of the best in New Zealand, and you can break up the drive by staying in Twizel—enjoying the stargazing at night.

Tours & Tickets

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Mount Cook Private Day Tour via Lake Tekapo including Lunch, Christchurch, null
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 5

Mount Cook Private Day Tour via Lake Tekapo including Lunch

Enjoy a private day tour to Aoraki/Mount Cook - the tallest mountain in New Zealand. Visit the picturesque town of Lake Tekapo, admire stunning alpine views ...  Read more

Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Duration: 12 to 13 hrs

From USD $234.85
Mount Cook to Queenstown Tour, Mount Cook, Day Trips
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 5

Mount Cook to Queenstown Tour

4 star rating: Recommended 1 Review

Be mesmerised by the alpine surroundings of the truly unique region of New Zealand's South Island as you leave Mount Cook on a one-way tour to Queenstown.  ...  Read more

Location: Mount Cook, New Zealand
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $129.20
Mount Cook to Wanaka Tour, Mount Cook, Bus Services
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 5

Mount Cook to Wanaka Tour

4 star rating: Recommended 2 Reviews

In the afternoon, depart the Mount Cook village and travel down the western side of Lake Pukaki at the foot of New Zealand's tallest mountain, Mount Cook. On ...  Read more

Location: Mount Cook, New Zealand
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $148.71
Queenstown to Mount Cook Tour, Queenstown, Bus Services
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 2 ADMISSION : 5

Queenstown to Mount Cook Tour

4 star rating: Recommended 5 Reviews

Depart Queenstown and its surrounding lush green farmland and relax as you take in the spectacular scenery that changes from the winding Kawarau River Gorge to ...  Read more

Location: Queenstown, New Zealand
Duration: 4 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $104.30

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