Without a doubt, our UNESCO recognised starlight reserve is a once in a lifetime must-do activity. The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve has been awarded the first ever Gold-level dark sky status, a recognition bestowed for the unparalleled clarity of its night skies.
While you can see the stars from anywhere in Tekapo one of the best ways to fully experience the ethereal sight is to take a star tour with The Dark Sky Project.
Located at the top of Mt John just 15 minutes from the village you will be transported for your night tour to the observatory by enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides (with Chinese and Japanese speaking options).
Depending on the conditions, you may be shown around a world-class research observatory, learn of some of the discoveries being made here, and view the Milky Way, distant star clusters, planets, nebulae, or perhaps the craters of the moon! If you are very lucky you may even see an Aurora Australis, the famous Southern Lights!
N.B. Only the Cowan's Hill Tours are currently operating.
Alternatively you can experience the only guided hot pools and star gazing tour in New Zealand with Tekapo Star Gazing.
Operated from the Tekapo Springs complex, these unique tours combine the stunning Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve with soul - warming hot pools.
A two-hour experience, the first half of this guided indoor / outdoor tour introduces you to Tekapo’s amazing night skies with a unique combination of astronomy and storytelling. The second half of the tour takes place in a 38-degree hot pool; relax on a floating hammock and feel like you’re soaking in the stars as you explore the wonder of night skies.
Established in 2018, Silver River™ Stargazing is the newest business in Lake Tekapo that offers authentic Kiwi experiences in our own backyard. Tours were developed to ensure that our adventures are comfortable, exciting and affordable for all, regardless of budget.
Come and discover the wonders of the night sky on a 1.5-hour experience; including 60 mins under the stars with one of our local guides. We use powerful 14” telescopes and special astro-lasers for easy naked-eye viewing. After we take you on a journey through our night sky, your awesome guide will take a photo of your group under the stars, capturing that picture-perfect moment.
Astro Cafe ~ Currently closed due to Covid-19
If you only have the time to visit Mt John during the daylight hours you won't be disappointed. The Astro Cafe atop the mountain is regarded by Lonely Planet as "quite possible the best place on the planet for a coffee!" You can drive yourself during the day and take in the breathtaking 360 degree views. Again, don't forget your camera!
Hours: Summer 9.00am to 6.00pm. Winter 10.00am to 5.00pm. Road is closed with no public access after these hours.
Please note that the kitchen closes at 3:30 pm, but continues to offer cakes and other homemade delicacies from the display cabinet until closing.