At 1,029m high, Mt John offers unrivalled 360-degree views across the largest accredited International Dark Sky Reserve in the world.
Our expert astronomy guides bring the night sky to life, sharing the science and the stories of our Southern skies. Stargaze using the naked eye guided by lasers and then proceed to explore deeper through up to 16" optical telescopes, including in our private observatory dome. Take in the incredible Milky Way, far off planets, star clusters, solar systems, and even distant galaxies; every night sky beholds something different.
Our exclusive Summit Experience runs for 1 hour 45 minutes, includes transport to and from Mt John, use of our ECW (extreme cold weather jackets) to keep you warm at the summit (Please note: ECW Jackets are unable to be provided during Covid-19 Framework Red and Orange levels), and the full use of our telescopes.
The nature of the terrain on Mount John requires a certain level of fitness, you need to be confident walking 100 meters on a gravel incline and be able to climb a couple of steps in the dark. Guests looking for a more accessible tour should check out our Crater Experience at Cowan’s Private Observatory, which is an ideal accessible alternative.
Our Summit Experience is a weather dependent activity. If it is not possible to observe due to weather, then an alternative indoor experience may be offered in our purpose built technological and interactive venue, with guests entitled to a partial refund.
Seasonal Pricing: April 2022 - September 2022
Child (min. age 7 years)
Family (2 adults, 2 children)
Family (2 adults, 3 children)
What to Expect
University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory, Summit of Mount John
Time of Day
7 years & over
1 hr 45 minutes
Various times throughout the year depending on time of sunset. Available 7 days a week
Please check in at least 20 minutes prior to departure at Dark Sky Project Base, Takapō (Tekapo) lakefront.
Guests receive their ECW jacket. Please come prepared, we are unable to provide Extreme Cold Weather jackets during the Red or Orange level of the COVID-19 Protection Framework.
Travel 15 minutes by bus to the Mount John Summit.
Stargazing with the naked eye (guided by lasers), telescopes and through our observatory dome.
Travel 15 minutes by bus back to Dark Sky Project base.