The Mackenzie Basin, popularly and traditionally known as the Mackenzie Country, is a roughly elliptical and elevated area (700m/3000 ft above sea level) near the centre of the South Island of New Zealand. It extends approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) north-south, and 40 kilometers (25 miles) east-west. Using State Highway 8, it can be accessed via Burke's Pass from the north and the Lindis Pass from the south, or via S.H.83 through the Waitaki Valley from the east. The Southern Alps constitute its western edge. The majority of the Mackenzie Basin is within Canterbury, although the small part of the basin to the south of the Waitaki River is in Otago
Prominent rivers to cross the Mackenzie Basin include the Waitaki, the Ahuriri, the Hakataramea and the Tekapo Rivers. Lakes Ohau, Pukaki, Alexandrina and Tekapo lie within the Mackenzie Basin, as do the artificial hydroelectric lakes of Benmore, Ruataniwha, and Aviemore.
Sparsely populated, and with only three settlements (Lake Tekapo, population <500; Twizel, population <1,100; Omarama, population <400), the Mackenzie Country comprises an extraordinarily beautiful area of huge glacial lakes and magnificent snow-capped mountains, particularly favored by tourists and skiers. The Ohau skifield, near Omarama and Roundhill Ski Area, at Lake Tekapo are small club skifields popular amongst many living in Canterbury and Otago.
The Mackenzie Country is increasingly being put to use as the principal location for many motion pictures, including much of Peter Jackson's epic Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, as well as numerous television shows, documentaries and commercials.
Due to its clean, dry and dark sky, the Mackenzie Basin serves as an important area for astronomy, with a number of related facilities located there, including the University of Canterbury's Mount John University Observatory, and the amateur Benmore Peak Observatory. Plans are currently underway to have the entire area designated the world's first International Dark Sky Reserve. The Mackenzie Basin is also a renowned and world-class gliding area.
- N.Z. Department of Conservation - Lake Tekapo and Mackenzie Basin history and ecology (http://www.doc.govt.nz/Explore/002~Tracks-and-Walks/By-Region/010~Canterbury/Lake-Tekapo-Walkway/index.asp)
- Hide Ozawa's Stargazing Tours website (http://www.stargazing.co.nz/)
- Omarama Gliding Club website (http://www.omarama.com/)
- World Altitude Record Attempt website (http://www.firnspiegel.com/perlan/)
- Glideorama: Gavin Wills' Mountain Soaring School website (http://www.glideomarama.com/)
- Ohau Skifield website (http://www.ohau.co.nz/)
- Roundhill Ski Area website (http://www.roundhill.co.nz/)