Haere Mai, Welcome. 

Dark Sky Project is located in Takapō (Tekapo), in the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.  It is one of the most accessible Dark Sky Reserves in the world, and the first gold-tier Reserve.

Takapō is approximately a three-hour scenic drive from both Queenstown and Christchurch, and is on the main highway between the two cities. The drive offers some of the most spectacular scenery in Aotearoa (New Zealand) - we recommend allowing plenty of time to stop and take it all in!

All of our experiences depart from Dark Sky Project Base which is located at 1 Motuariki Lane on the Takapō lakefront (in between the Four Square supermarket and the YHA). Takapō is a small township and the building is very recognisable with its unique and large observatory dome. You can't miss it!

Weather & Climate

Takapō has its own unique micro-climate so commercial weather predictions are often inaccurate. It’s best to allow some time and flexibility when planning a trip to the region to ensure that you get the most out of your experience and have the best possible chance to enjoy the stars with a clear night.

One of the most important things you can do to prepare for your visit and experience is to pack for cold weather - even in the midst of summer. The Mackenzie region is an alpine environment meaning it is cool at night, even during the summer nights when it is hot during the day. In the winter it can be extremely cold, and there can often be snow or ice on the ground (which, against the lake and mountain backdrop, is simply stunning).

Pease remember to dress very warmly, with shoes suitable for walking on uneven terrain. Gloves and warm hats are advisable all year round.

For more information on the climate, we recommend visiting the Mackenzie visitor website.

Transport options

Getting here

Self Driving

If you are ferrying across to Te Waipounamu (the South Island) from Te Ika-a-Maui (the North Island), Takapō is about a seven-hour drive from Picton, which is where the ferry arrives at the top of the South Island.

From Christchurch or Queenstown, Takapō is about a three-hour scenic drive. There are also many cars and campervans rental options with pick up points across New Zealand.

Please take care on the roads at all times and please be aware of the New Zealand road rules. In winter, snow and ice can cover roads, and Mackenzie's high country location means a few hill slopes and winding sections. For information on safe driving in New Zealand, visit the New Zealand Transport Agency. You will be driving through some of the country's most spectacular scenery - we recommend allowing a generous amount of time for travel and stop-offs (you won't be disappointed!).



The closest international airports are in Christchurch and Queenstown, which are both approximately a three-hour drive from Takapō on State Highway 8.


If you are flying domestically within New Zealand, Air New Zealand and Jetstar offer services to both Queenstown and Christchurch. The closest domestic airport is in Timaru, approximately a 70 minutes drive. Air New Zealand is the only commercial carrier operating flights in and out of this airport. Pukaki Airport is a private airfield, about a 30 minutes drive from Takapō.

Bus/Coach Services

For those not wanting to drive, there are public bus options available. Intercity Buses run regular bus services to and from Takapō. For more information, visit the Mackenzie visitor website.

Useful links

We recommend visiting the following websites to help with your planning:

Tourism New Zealand

Mackenzie Tourism

Christchurch NZ

Queenstown NZ

Driving In New Zealand