crater experience


at Cowan’s Private Observatory

Enhance your knowledge of the Southern Skies and ponder the possibilities at our purpose-built observatory.

Designed specifically with stargazing in mind, Cowan’s Private Observatory is the perfect stargazing experience. Nestled in a giant purpose-built crater to provide maximum wind protection and minimum light pollution, our expert astronomy guides will enhance your knowledge and understanding of our Southern Skies with our powerful optical telescopes. We recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment.


The Crater Experience operates in all weather conditions. If conditions prevent us from taking you outdoors (eg. cloud cover or inclement weather) you'll learn about our southern skies from our purpose-built technological and interactive venue.  



Tour Overview


Cowan’s Private Observatory


up to 14" optical telescope

Time of day

Evening, outdoors

Minimum age

5 years & over

Family options

Early evening options available



75 minutes

Tour times

Various throughout the year depending on time of sunset

Checking in

Please check-in at least 20 minutes prior to tour departure at Dark Sky Project Base, Takapō (Tekapo) lakefront.

What to wear

Please wear warm clothing. Due to COVID-19 we are unable to offer jackets.

Cowan's Private Observatory

Cowan's Private Observatory

Cowan's Private Observatory

Cowan's Private Observatory

Cowan's Private Observatory

Cowan's Private Observatory

Planning your trip

Moon Phase

The sky is at its darkest when there is no moon however as we are in a Dark Sky Reserve there is still plenty visible throughout the whole month.


Takapō has its own unique alpine micro-climate and can change without notice. Weather predictions are often inaccurate. We recommend allowing as much time in the region as you can.


Our guides tailor content to what is visible on a given night. In the case of full cloud cover, guests will receive The Takapō Stars Experience (an indoor interactive astronomy tour)


Seasonal Pricing

Oct 2019 – Mar 2021


18 years & over



Ages 5-17



2 adults, 2 children


Extra Child

on family ticket