The Maori were the first to venture into the Mackenzie Country, where they hunted Moas, birds and eels before returning to the coast for more supplies and trade. In 1855 James Mackenzie, a Scottish shepherd turned sheep rustler discovered the basin that now bears his name when he, with the help of his dog Friday, drove flocks of sheep inland to avoid being discovered. The first sheep station to be built on the shores of Lake Tekapo was in the late 1850s and the remains of the old homestead can still be seen on the eastern shores of the lake. In the 1930s work began on the Tekapo power station, but it was delayed due the out break of WW2 and was finally completed in the 1950s. Lake Tekapo offers a wide range of world-class recreational pursuits and a unique mix of activities right throughout the year. It’s all here, whether it’s tramping, mountain biking, climbing, horse trekking,trout fishing, hunting, boating, kayaking, scenic flights, skiing over the winter months, star-gazing or simply simply soaking up the spectacular mountain scenery ! And like many of New Zealand's smaller lake side towns becomes busy over the summer months with tourists from both locally and abroad.
The majority of water flowing into the headwaters of Lake Tekapo comes from the Godley and Macauley river systems which extend right back into the valleys of the Southern Alps. Feeding these rivers are large glaciers deep in the Southern Alps of the South Island
which start as fallen snow high in the mountains. The glaciers have since retreated back to the valleys at the head of the lake, but are still clearly visible from the air and often accessible by four wheel drive vehicle. The area boasts beautiful lakes, rivers, streams and some smaller hidden away spring creeks and tributaries which hold both Brown and Rainbow trout with some reaching some very impressive size's ! The nature of the climate is harsh, from hot dry summers, to very cold frosty winters. And often blow the hot, dry nor-westers that dictate that the vegetation of the Mackenzie be hardy and drought resistant.