Time-lapse animations taken by Maki Yanagimachi around Lake Tekapo, NewZealand
Welcome to the Mount John University of Canterbury Observatory, home to New Zealand’s largest telescope, located at Lake Tekapo in the heart of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve and one of the best stargazing sites on Earth. Learn and share in our enthusiasm of the universe with tours operating both by day and by night. During the day drive or hike to the summit of Mount John and join our Day Tour where you can view day-time stars and enjoy a spot of lunch at the Astro- Caf? that sits 300 metres above the turquoise water of Lake Tekapo. At night you can see the wonders of the southern night sky and experience the thrill of peering through powerful telescopes and have your very own camera mounted to our sky tracking mount and one of our experienced astrophotographers will take photos of the night sky for you.
Mt. John Twilight Tour (Summer):-
Approx 2 hours in length.
Take in the stunning panoramic views from Mount John as the sun submerges below the Southern Alps and then explore behind the scenes as the astronomers begin operations for the evening. Visit one of New Zealand’s largest research telescopes before enjoying a treat and a multimedia presentation in the Astro-Caf? followed by an exploration of the darkening sky through one of our telescopes.
Mt. John Observatory Tour:-
Approx 2 hours in length.
Come and see the wonders of the southern night sky on our famous observatory tour and experience the wonder of peering through a powerful telescope which reveal familiar planets and rich star clusters. All that’s required is that you bring warm clothes, a keen eye and a desire to see, learn and experience and on a cloudy evening you have the opportunity to delve into the inner sanctums of the Observatory where you learn about these large telescopes and their discoveries around the country.
Ensure you bring your DSLR camera so that one of our astrophotographers can capture the night sky for you and time permitting they will explain some of the mysteries of astrophotography.
Cowan’s Observatory Tour:-
approx 1 hour 15mins in length
Mostly run through the busier summer months this shorter tour operates from Cowan’s Observatory which is a little closer to town but with the same dark sky location as Mt. John. Our guides will introduce you to several gems of the southern night sky and is perfect for your first stargazing experience and only operating when the sky is clear enough.
Mt John Observatory Day Tour:-
Tour is approximately 1/2 hour in length. On request, between 12 pm and 3 pm daily.
Walk or drive up the to the summit and enjoy stunning panoramic views of the Mackenzie Country and take a tour of New Zealand’s largest telescope where scientists hunt for new planets. On a clear day by peering through our special solar telescope you can safely look at the sun and then afterwards treat yourself to something special in the modern, glass Astro-Caf? which overlook the turquoise hues of lake Tekapo.
Little Star Tour (Winter):-
Approx 80 minutes in length.
This popular short & fun new tour enables you to gaze at the stunning Lake Tekapo winter skies whilst enjoying a hot chocolate ensuring that frost-bite is kept at bay!
Approx 80 minutes includes 45 minutes on Mt. John.
A treat for the whole family which is usually run through the school holidays and is ideal for children under 10 years of age with a short attention span. See New Zealand’s largest
telescope and depending on the season spot some stars or a planet or two and take home
a themed gift pack for each child.
Images copyright & provided by: Maki Yanagimachi and David Weir