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Mount John Observatory

Take an evening tour to see the wonders of the night sky or visit during the day to enjoy the stunning views of Lake Tekapo and the surrounding mountains.

Mount John Observatory is one of New Zealand’s leading observatories. Being located on a hilltop overlooking the mesmerizing Lake Tekapo, it’s also hugely popular for its day-time views.

The observatory is located within the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, one of only four such reserves around the world. It was decided in 1963 that Mount John provided the best conditions for an observatory out of several locations in New Zealand. The observatory was completed soon after. Upgrades throughout the years, including a 71-inch (180-centimeter) telescope in 2004, keep the observatory up with the latest technology.

Take a night-time tour of the observatory with Earth & Sky. Scan the night sky through powerful telescopes while the professional guides inform and educate you about the stars and the wider cosmos. On cloudy nights, you can reschedule your planned visit to another night or choose to tour the largest telescopes that are normally set aside for professional astronomers.

During the day, the location of the observatory not only provides unmatched views of the sky but also amazing views over Lake Tekapo and the Southern Alps. The lake has a vivid turquoise color on sunny days, due to the minerals from glacier meltwater that feeds into the lake. The mountains change color each season, from the dry brown of summer through to the glistening white dustings of winter snow.

Have a drink or lunch at the café on the hilltop beside the observatory. The café terrace provides views that are truly unique, so bring your camera along. Warm yourself with a hot chocolate or coffee in winter or cool down with a smoothie or ice tea in summer.

Mount John Observatory is about a 15-minute drive from Tekapo township. A small road entry and parking fee applies. A very popular option is to hike from the town to the observatory. The hike passes through larch forest before opening up to grassland hills and takes about 45 minutes one way. On the way down, drop into Tekapo Springs for a long soak in one of the hot pools for the perfect finale to your day.


Map

Top Mount John Observatory Hotel & Accommodation Deals

See all 75 properties near Mount John Observatory
Peppers Bluewater Resort NZ$137
Peppers Bluewater Resort

Peppers Bluewater Resort

State Highway 8, Lake Tekapo
     
    4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

    Conveniently located near the ski slopes, this Lake Tekapo apartment building is within a 15-minute walk of Lake Tekapo, Mount John Observatory, and Church of the Good Shepherd. Sheepdog Statue and Tekapo Springs are also within 1 mi (2 km).

    Lake Tekapo Village Motel NZ$160
    Lake Tekapo Village Motel

    Lake Tekapo Village Motel

    Village Centre, State Highway 8, Lake Tekapo
       
      3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      Situated on a lake, this motel is within a 10-minute walk of Mount John Observatory, Lake Tekapo, and Church of the Good Shepherd. Sheepdog Statue and Tekapo Springs are also within 1 mi (2 km).

      The Godley Hotel NZ$126
      The Godley Hotel

      The Godley Hotel

      State Highway 8, Lake Tekapo
         
        3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located near the slopes, this Lake Tekapo hotel is in the mountains and within a 10-minute walk of Mount John Observatory, Lake Tekapo, and Church of the Good Shepherd. Tekapo Springs is 1.3 mi (2.1 km) away.

        Mantra Lake Tekapo NZ$306
        Mantra Lake Tekapo

        Mantra Lake Tekapo

        1 Beauchamp Place, Lake Tekapo
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated on a lake, this apartment building is within a 10-minute walk of Lake Tekapo and Church of the Good Shepherd. Tekapo Springs is 1.7 mi (2.7 km) away.

          Lake Tekapo Cottages NZ$186
          Lake Tekapo Cottages

          Lake Tekapo Cottages

          12 Sealy St, Lake Tekapo
             
            3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated in Lake Tekapo, this golf guesthouse is within a 10-minute walk of Church of the Good Shepherd and Lake Tekapo. Tekapo Springs is 1.6 mi (2.6 km) away.

            Tailor Made Tekapo Backpackers NZ$100
            Tailor Made Tekapo Backpackers

            Tailor Made Tekapo Backpackers

            11 Aorangi Crescent, Lake Tekapo
               
              2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Situated in Lake Tekapo, this golf hostel is within a 15-minute walk of Mount John Observatory, Lake Tekapo, and Church of the Good Shepherd. Sheepdog Statue and Tekapo Springs are also within 2 mi (3 km).

              Scott Street Apartments NZ$172
              Scott Street Apartments

              Scott Street Apartments

              3 Scott Street, Lake Tekapo
                 
                3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                Situated in Lake Tekapo, this apartment building is within a 10-minute walk of Mount John Observatory and Church of the Good Shepherd. Lake Tekapo and Tekapo Springs are also within 2 mi (3 km).

                Skyrim Riverside Lodge NZ$220
                Skyrim Riverside Lodge

                Skyrim Riverside Lodge

                9 Andrew Don Drive, Lake Tekapo
                   
                  3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated in Lake Tekapo, this apartment building is within a 15-minute walk of Mount John Observatory and Lake Tekapo. Church of the Good Shepherd and Tekapo Springs are also within 2 mi (3 km).