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!
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, this unique tour combines the stunning Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve with soul - warming hot pools.
A 1.5 hour experience, the first half of this guided tour introduces you to Tekapo’s amazing night skies with a telescope viewing. The second half of the tour takes place in a 37.5-38.5 degree celsius hot pool; relax on a floating hammock and feel like you’re soaking in the stars as you explore the wonder of night skies and listen to some amazing astronomy stories. In case of cloudy weather, the first part of the tour will be replaced by an indoor Virtual Reality tour, which featuresstunning 360-degree images of the stars and an incredible time-lapse including the Aurora Australis (the Southern Lights). The hot pools portion of the tour operates regardless of the weather.
Silver River™ Stargazing 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.
Established in 2021, Chameleon Stargazing is the newest stargazing operation in town. They adapt each tour to meet the individual interests of their guests, providing unforgettable experiences for exclusive small groups of families and friends.
A budget friendly option, choose from a 90 minute private tour or group tour, including marshmallow buffet, hot chocolate and personal photo.
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: Thursday - Monday | Summer 9am to 3pm. Winter 10am to 3pm. Road is closed with no public access after these hours.