Discover the Southern Skies in Lake Takapō, New Zealand

Join us for an unforgettable stargazing adventure with the Crater Experience in Lake Takapō (Tekapo), New Zealand. Nestled in the heart of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, our purpose-built observation craters give you a fantastic view of the stars. Here, you'll see more, journey further, and understand the night sky like never before. 

An exclusive stargazing spot

Your experience takes place in our secluded observation craters, sheltered from wind and light pollution. In this special place it's just you, the stars, and the best view of the endless southern skies.


A personal tour of the stars

Over 75 minutes, you'll explore the stars with both the naked eye and powerful telescopes. You're on a personal tour of the cosmos, without ever leaving the beautiful heart of the South Island.

Every night offers a new spectacle. From the Milky Way to distant galaxies beyond, our guides use handheld lasers to show you the best of the evolving night sky. They'll help you discover the stars and planets, and understand what it all means. The stars will never seem more within your reach!



Seasonal Pricing: October 2023 - September 2024



Child (ages 5-17)     




You’ll never forget New Zealand’s best stargazing experience – so book now!

Whether you're in Takapō, Twizel, or anywhere in the South Island, our stargazing experience promises to be a highlight of your New Zealand adventure. So, grab a jacket, bring your curiosity, and join us under the stars for an evening you won't forget!



Group of stargazers looking upon the milky way in red lighting

What to Expect


Cowan’s Private Observatory, Lake Takapō

Time of Day

Various tour times in the evening after twilight, 7 days a week.


Using 14” telescopes, or observatory dome, and with the naked eye.

Length of Tour

75 minutes

Minimum age

Age 5 years and above.

Tour Itinerary

Check In

Check in at Dark Sky Project base 20 minutes prior to tour departure.

Dress Warmly

Please layer warm clothing ahead of your tour.

Transport from Base

We’ll take you on the 5-minute drive to Cowan’s Private Observatory.


Discover the cosmos as you stargaze with the naked eye (guided by lasers), 14” telescopes, and through our observatory dome.

Transport back to Base

We’ll drive you back to where you started at the Dark Sky Project base.

Frequently Asked Questions

Crater Experience

When and where should I check in?

Join us at Dark Sky Project at 1 Motuariki Lane, 20 minutes before your Crater Experience starts. (Get Google Maps directions here.) We'll whisk you away in a coach to Cowan's Observatory for a night of unforgettable stargazing.

What should I wear for the experience?

Layer up! Even in summer, it gets chilly under the stars. Think thermal wear, long pants, and sturdy shoes. In winter, warm clothing, snow jackets, gloves, and hats. No light-up shoes or clothing, please. The only lights you’ll want to see are in the sky.

Is the Crater Experience family-friendly?

Absolutely! It's a great outing for families with kids aged 5 and up. For a more comfortable experience with little ones, consider our earlier tours.

How accessible is The Crater Experience?

We aim to accommodate everyone. Let us know your accessibility needs when booking, and we'll make the necessary arrangements.

What happens if the weather is bad?

If the skies aren't clear, you can still get a stargazing experience by trying our indoor Virtual Stargazing Experience.

What will I see in the sky?

Our night sky is ever-changing, so each tour is unique. Our guides will showcase the best celestial sights of the evening, tailoring the experience to what’s visible on that particular night.

Will I see The Milky Way or The Southern Lights?

The visibility of the Milky Way and Southern Lights depends on the sky's clarity and light conditions. While we can't guarantee specific sights, every clear night brings its own cosmic magic.

When's the best time to visit Takapō for stargazing?

The skies in Takapō dazzle all year round, but winter months often bring clearer, darker skies, perfect for stargazing. However, every season has its own charm under the stars.

Can I book on the same day?

You can! Just remember, spots fill up fast, so it's better to book early to avoid missing out.

Can I take photos during the experience?

Feel free to capture memories, but please keep your camera's flash off to maintain the dark environment. Our guides can even give you tips on astrophotography!