crater experience


at Cowan’s 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 Observatory is the perfect introductory 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 as you admire and ponder the possibilities through our powerful optical telescopes.

We strongly recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment.


COVID-19 UPDATE: Tours are operating. We have reduced tour group numbers and changed transport arrangements to ensure physical distancing. We will continue to monitor and adjust our operational procedures in line with Ministry of Health recommendations. International guests are required to provide proof of New Zealand arrival date (eg. passport, boarding pass, flight itinerary).


Tour Overview


Cowan’s 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 10 minutes prior to tour departure at Dark Sky Project Base, Takapō (Tekapo) lakefront.

What to wear

We supply ECW (Extreme Cold Weather) jackets.

Beverage inclusions

A hot beverage is included in this experience.

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, we will offer an alternative option. In some cases a full refund may be offered.


Seasonal Pricing

Oct 2019 – Sep 2020


18 years & over



Ages 5-17



2 Adults 2 Children


Extra Child

Additional to Family Pass


*Family rates are for 2 adults, 2 children. Charges apply for additional children. All prices are subject to change.