Introducing Lake Tekapo
At the southern end of its namesake lake, this little town has unobstructed views across turquoise water to a backdrop of rolling hills and snowcapped mountains. It's a popular stop for tour groups, with buses bound for Mt Cook and Queenstown allowing passengers to pop out for a quick ice cream, coffee and photo opportunity.
Rather than rushing on, it’s worth staying to experience the region’s glorious night sky from atop nearby Mt John. In 2012 the Aoraki Mackenzie area was declared an International Dark Sky Reserve, one of only five in the world.