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Mount John Observatory
Holiday Travel Guide

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.

Top activities in Mount John Observatory

246 Cheap Hotels Near Mount John Observatory

Peppers Bluewater Resort
Peppers Bluewater Resort
4.5 out of 5
State Highway 8, Lake Tekapo
The price is NZ$169 per night from 4 Mar. to 5 Mar.

Situated in Lake Tekapo, this luxury aparthotel is within a 15-minute walk of Lake Tekapo, Church of the Good Shepherd and Sheepdog Statue. Tekapo Springs and ...

4.1/5Very Good! (2,587 reviews)

"Amazing view from the room, only issue was the window latch was broken so was a tad noisy when the wind hit!"…"

Reviewed on 21 Jan. 2021

Peppers Bluewater Resort
The Godley Hotel
The Godley Hotel
3 out of 5
State Highway 8, Lake Tekapo
The price is NZ$116 per night from 4 Mar. to 5 Mar.

Situated on a lake, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Lake Tekapo and Church of the Good Shepherd. Tekapo Springs and Mount John Observatory are also ...

3.1/5 (976 reviews)

"Rooms very dated. That’s okay if you get what you pay for but felt was overpriced for the 70’s decor and facilities."…"

Reviewed on 18 Feb. 2021

The Godley Hotel
Mantra Lake Tekapo
Mantra Lake Tekapo
4 out of 5
1 Beauchamp Place, Lake Tekapo
Free cancellation
The price is NZ$199 per night from 7 Mar. to 8 Mar.

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) ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (524 reviews)

"Liked the swimming pool. Also the location. Didn’t like that maintenance in some areas of the unit was lacking"…"

Reviewed on 19 Feb. 2021

Mantra Lake Tekapo
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Top Mount John Observatory Flight & Hotel Packages

Cathedral Junction Apartment
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319 Addington Motel
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Top Mount John Observatory Hotel & Accommodation Deals

Peppers Bluewater Resort
Peppers Bluewater Resort
4.5 out of 5
State Highway 8, Lake Tekapo
The price is NZ$169 per night from 4 Mar. to 5 Mar.
Peppers Bluewater Resort
The Godley Hotel
The Godley Hotel
3 out of 5
State Highway 8, Lake Tekapo
The price is NZ$116 per night from 4 Mar. to 5 Mar.
The Godley Hotel
Mantra Lake Tekapo
Mantra Lake Tekapo
4 out of 5
1 Beauchamp Place, Lake Tekapo
The price is NZ$199 per night from 7 Mar. to 8 Mar.
Mantra Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo Village Motel
Lake Tekapo Village Motel
3.5 out of 5
Village Centre, State Highway 8, Lake Tekapo
The price is NZ$151 per night from 4 Mar. to 5 Mar.
Lake Tekapo Village Motel
Lake Tekapo Motels & Holiday Park
Lake Tekapo Motels & Holiday Park
2 out of 5
2 Lakeside Dr, Lake Tekapo, Canterbury
The price is NZ$108 per night from 4 Mar. to 5 Mar.
Lake Tekapo Motels & Holiday Park
Lake Tekapo Cottages
Lake Tekapo Cottages
3 out of 5
12 Sealy St, Lake Tekapo
The price is NZ$152 per night from 10 Mar. to 11 Mar.
Lake Tekapo Cottages
The Quarters
The Quarters
3 out of 5
4 Erebus Place, Lake Tekapo
The price is NZ$199 per night from 4 Mar. to 5 Mar.
The Quarters
The Mackenzie Suites
The Mackenzie Suites
3.5 out of 5
67 Darchiac drive, Lake Tekapo
The price is NZ$175 per night from 4 Mar. to 5 Mar.
The Mackenzie Suites
Tailor Made Tekapo Accommodation - Guesthouse & Hostel
Tailor Made Tekapo Accommodation - Guesthouse & Hostel
2 out of 5
11 Aorangi Crescent, Lake Tekapo
The price is NZ$90 per night from 4 Mar. to 5 Mar.
Tailor Made Tekapo Accommodation - Guesthouse & Hostel
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.