Takapō (Lake Tekapo) - Atlas Obscura

Takapō (Lake Tekapo)

A perfect turquoise lake colored with glacier dust. 


In a large basin, combine 100 parts water with one part glacier-formed rock dust. Mix over millions of years and allow to settle until humankind inhabits South Island, New Zealand. This simple recipe has created a beauty so rare and a landscape so striking it deflates your lungs within moments of arriving at its shores.

Takapō (known in English as Lake Tekapo) is an idyllic alpine spot at the foot of Mt. John, on the South Island of New Zealand. The color of the lake’s water truly sets it apart from other lakes. Its beautiful turquoise blue is a product of the surrounding glaciers. The glaciers in the headwaters of Lake Tekapo grind rocks into fine dust on their journey down towards the lake. The resulting particulate, called “rock flour,” is suspended in the water and causes the magnificent turquoise.

The amazing color of the lake set against the backdrop of snow-capped peaks and fields of wildflowers makes Takapō an extraordinarily dramatic landscape. The best views can be seen from the top of Mt. John, which is home to the University of Canterbury’s Mt. John Observatory. 

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