New Zealand is a wonderland for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts, with many incredible hikes. The Mount John hike in Canterbury is a gem that is definitely worth your time and will spoil you with gorgeous sights.
The trail is moderate and accessible all year round and each season offers something special. Sitting atop the peak is a cafe, viewing platform and Mount John observatory.
You can reward yourself with a drink and a snack, although the picturesque views are enough of a reward.
The summit boasts 360-degree panoramic views over the Mackenzie Basin and a plethora of surrounding peaks and striking lakes.
This ultimate Mt John summit track guide will equip you with everything you need to know before you embark on your own summit adventure!
- 1 Places to stay to hike Mount John Summit Track
- 2 How to get to Mount John Summit Track
- 3 Mt John Track Routes
- 4 Best time to hike Mt John Circuit Track
- 5 Lake Tekapo weather
- 6 Hiking essentials for your Mount John Summit hike
- 7 Is Mt John Summit Track worth it?
Places to stay to hike Mount John Summit Track
There are plenty of accommodation options in Lake Tekapo town, which is nearby the start of the Mt John Walkway.
This is the best area to stay in for easy access to the hike and a bunch of cool activities in the surrounds, such as canoeing.
Lake Tekapo and its mountains are magnificent and besides the hike, there is a lot to do. A popular activity is the Lake Tekapo hot springs – a great place to soak your muscles after trekking up the mountain
Budget – We stayed at the Lakefront Lodge Backpackers in Lake Tekapo and we loved it. It’s perfect for solo travellers as well as social people.
The lake views from the dorms and communal areas are unbelievable, and it’s incredibly close to all the activities you could want.
Mid-range – Of course, hostel life is not for everyone. There is an abundance of alternative options such as these treasures.
Lake Tekapo Cottages is ideal if you prefer a little more privacy and a self-catering option. It’s also great for families and only two minutes away from Tekapo Village.
The cottage comes equipped with bicycles, fishing gear, a telescope and barbecue facilities. You’re sure to have a whole lot of fun after the hike.
Luxury – Peppers Bluewater Resort is a 4.5-star hotel on Lake Tekapo shores. If you’re after something a bit more upmarket, this place is for you.
It is perfectly positioned to do the Mt John Summit and the private balconies are a blissful spot to enjoy the lake views post-hike.
How to get to Mount John Summit Track
The best part about this route is that it is accessible by foot from Lake Tekapo Township. However, you can choose to drive if you’re staying further out.
The summit track begins just before Tekapo Springs Complex. Look out for the Department of Conservation sign that signifies the beginning of the track.
Mt John Track Routes
There are two route options to get to the jaw-dropping summit. Personally, I recommend the longer loop as this is the best way to experience the natural glory that this area has to offer.
Mt John Summit Circuit Track
This is the quickest way up and down the summit. It is a moderate climb with some really steep bits.
You will climb steadily up through a larch tree forest and emerge into an open grassy area. At the top, there is a loop track that winds around the summit just below the Mt John observatory.
The panoramic views are striking at the top. You’ll have 360-degree vistas that encompass Lake Tekapo, The Mackenzie Basin, Lake McGregor and Alexandria, and the Southern Alps. It sounds incredible – and it is.
You can descend on the same track or extend your hike via the lakeshore.
Time: 1.5 hours
Mt John Via Lakeshore
This is a looped route that can be done either clockwise or anticlockwise. I recommend doing it clockwise and starting with the summit up to Mt John and then coming down along the lakeshore trail.
This way you will have spectacular views of the lake on the way down and you get the challenging part over and done with at the beginning.
If you do it counterclockwise and start with the lake trail, you will only start to enjoy the views an hour or so into the walk.
Time: 3 hours
Best time to hike Mt John Circuit Track
This route is heavily trafficked which means it can get very busy. If you want a peaceful hike then early morning or late afternoon is best.
These times of the day are also prime for enjoying the views. The early morning light and golden afternoon hues complement the scenery perfectly.
Lake Tekapo weather
New Zealand is pretty wet and rainy, which is why it is so lush. The weather in the Lake Tekapo area is wettest in October and therefore is not the best for hiking. Unless you like to get a bit muddy.
From January to December the temperature is pleasant and falls between 20 degrees Celsius (68°F) and 25 degrees Celsius (77°F).
Late spring is the ideal time to visit Lake Tekapo and hike Mount John. The lupins are in full bloom at this time and they are truly a magical sight.
Especially when coupled with the bright blue lake. Temperatures are mild at this time but can get a bit chilly so it’s good to pack some warm clothes.
Hiking essentials for your Mount John Summit hike
This isn’t a very strenuous hike and there’s no need to over-prepare. But a few essentials will always make it a more comfortable and enjoyable experience. These are my go-to hiking accessories:
Plenty of water – Even in winter, remember to carry enough water. I find this water bottle particularly durable for hiking.
Snacks and lunch – There are so many beautiful places to stop for a short picnic. It’s worthwhile to bring some nibbles, plus they’re good for energy.
Comfortable walking shoes – This is a no brainer. Hiking boots are not necessary for this trek and many people prefer low-ankle shoes. Either way, a good pair of shoes are essential.
Layered clothing – This is more relevant during the wintertime. However, New Zealand can be rainy and the mountains get chilly. Light layered clothing is an excellent addition to your packing list.
Is Mt John Summit Track worth it?
Absolutely! The views from the summit are breathtaking and it really is New Zealand’s nature at its finest. Coming down the lakeshore track you’ll have a gentle descent, allowing you to fully revel in the amazing scenery.
The Mount John Summit is a worthwhile addition to your New Zealand itinerary.
You’re sure to be impressed by the scenic hike and the lovely surrounding areas.Lake Tekapo is a picture-perfect destination and the hike is the cherry on the top.
Final thoughts on hiking Mount John Summit
When I was planning our New Zealand trip and I saw pictures of Lake Tekapo I knew we simply had to visit it, and hiking Mt John seemed like the perfect way to see the bright turquoise water and sweeping views in one go.
It was amongst my favourite hikes in New Zealand, even if the clouds were covering part of the surrounding mountains. I hope you find this guide useful in planning your own Mt John Summit hike!
Looking for more New Zealand travel tips? Check out these guides:
- Roy’s Peak hike – is it worth it?
- Should you do a day trip to Milford Sound from Queenstown?
- Everything you need to know about Hooker Valley Track
- Ultimate guide to hiking Queenstown Hill
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