The historic charm of Aldourie Lodge appeals to everyone who passes through this corner of New Zealand.
Nestled on the shores of Lake Tekapo, you’ll find a very cute and cozy house overlooking the iconic lake. Aldourie Lodge is one of Tekapo’s original houses, packed with old-world appeal. In an era of unprecedented building all over New Zealand, there’s something so lovely about being able to stay in historic spaces.
As someone who considers herself to be both a massive history nerd and an introvert who loves cozy spaces, Aldourie Lodge made me swoon as I walked inside. Cloaked with warm wood, big windows, cozy furniture, and its own library, you could easily stay inside the whole time and be perfectly content.
In some ways, it reminded me of the States, where I grew up on the East Coast. With the warm wood, the cozy kitchen, and the paneled windows, it felt a lot like homes I’ve spent time in around the south where I’m from.
Cozy is definitely the best word to describe it. Or “cosy” as it’s spelled here down under.
There are actually three places to stay as part of Aldourie Lodge, though they’re all separate and private; you won’t see or cross paths with others. Each space is an entire home. You have the big main house, Aldourie Lodge, with three bedrooms. Then there is Awa Cottage, with two bedrooms. And finally, Sealy Street Studio.
Last winter, I stayed at the lodge for a few days with a good friend on a project, and it was so hard to leave. In fact, I stayed an extra night because the road back to Wanaka was closed due to ice. It was so tough (jokes). Then during the summer, I stayed in the cottage with my dad and stepmom when they visited; it was equally cozy.
The view from the front door of Aldourie Lodge in Lake Tekapo is just about as good as it gets!
Before the pandemic, Tekapo was a buzzy, small South Island town that drew people in like a magnet. It was always busy, and tourism was absolutely booming.
But the past few years, Tekapo was quiet, like really quiet.
This meant it was never a better time to visit. Along with many kiwis, I certainly tried to take advantage of this, hanging out in popular spots and taking the time to explore my own backyard again. It was great to return last winter before things kicked back into high gear. And trust me, Tekapo is stunning in winter.
From incredible scenery, lots of adventure, dark night skies, and the kindest locals you’ll ever meet, I was so happy to spend several days here soaking it all in last winter. And when Tekapo puts on her winter coat, well, there is nowhere more beautiful.
Tekapo is one of the coldest places in New Zealand in winter and one of the hottest in summer. Often it has clear blue skies with no humidity and no wind. This makes for stunning crisp winter days and freezing nights. Tekapo sits at over 700 meters above sea level too, which means it’s one of the few places where you can rely on to get snow at ground level.
You get these perfectly clear, freezing nights that lead to huge frosts, as everything is perfectly still. The stargazing is unreal. I call it white walker weather – if you know, you know. It’s not uncommon for it to drop below negative 10 degrees Celsius at night in winter.
And then you’ll be happy to be snuggled up by the fire in a warm cozy home!
Crispy winter mornings in Lake Tekapo are just so beautiful.
Sometimes a fog rolls in on those clear nights. And when it lifts in the morning, it often reveals a landscape of ice, a rare hoar frost that makes everything it touches sparkle.
Hoar frost is a phenomenon we sometimes see on the South Island, mostly around Central Otago and the Mackenzie Basin, where Tekapo sits. It’s usually caused by freezing fog. When it’s below zero, and there’s a fog, the tiny water droplets that touch the ground, or anything really, freeze, covering the surface with a frost so thick and spikey it often looks like snow. It’s so captivating.
Tekapo is definitely one of the best places to experience true winter in New Zealand.
I often think about how much I love all four seasons. I think it speaks to my childhood growing up in a place with each distinct season. While we don’t get snow days like I used to have as a kid, it’s still wonderful to be able to experience here in New Zealand.
I don’t think I could be one of those people who lived in summer year-round or moved back and forth between summers across the hemispheres.
While I’m not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, I did enjoy waking up early in Tekapo and sitting outside wrapped up in thick blankets, drinking coffee, and watching the sun rise over the frozen landscape. It was so magical. We are really lucky places like this still exist.
Here are my tips and must-dos for a great time in Tekapo:
- Sleep: Aldourie Lodge
- Coffee: The Greedy Cow
- Brekkie/brunch: Jack Rabbit Cafe
- Shopping: Petronella’s Bookstore
- Walks: Mount John Walkway
- Splurge: Scenic flight around Mt. Cook with Air Safaris
- Dinner: Reflections Cafe
- Must do: Tekapo Hot Springs and stargazing with Chameleon Stargazing (budget) or private with Alpha Crux Stargazing (they can come to you)
When planning your next holiday in New Zealand, and perhaps to Tekapo, be sure to check out Aldourie Lodge. Stay for as long as you can; it’s definitely the kind of place you want to be and spend some time inside relaxing.
Tekapo is the perfect base for all kinds of adventures around the Mackenzie area. You’ve got Twizel and Mount Cook nearby, with plenty of adventures and walks for just about anyone. There are even a few club ski fields next door too.
And if you happen to be here in winter? Even better. Tekapo really shines when the mountains are covered in snow, and those crisp sunny cold days turn the lakes into blue mirrors. It’s magic.
Do you like staying in cozy homes while you travel? Is winter appealing to you down here in New Zealand? Share!