Tours and Tickets
Summit Experience - University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory
4.5

Summit Experience - University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory

By Dark Sky Project
About
Our most popular astronomy experience at the world-renowned astronomical research centre. Prepare for an awe-inspiring evening of discovery. Immerse yourself in the stunning surrounds, pristine night skies and sophisticated viewing technologies as our expert guides share the science and stories of our Southern Skies. Don't miss New Zealand's premier stargazing experience. Exclusive to Dark Sky Project, the Summit Experience at Mt John Observatory is in partnership with the University of Canterbury.
from
$189.75
per adult
Lowest price guaranteeReserve now & pay laterFree cancellation

Ages 10-99, max of 30 per group
Duration: 2h
Start time: Check availability
Mobile ticket
Live guide: English
More


  • GST (Goods and Services Tax)
  • Professional guide
  • Pickup and drop-off from our Lake Tekapo Office
  • Entry/Admission - Dark Sky Project


  • Not wheelchair accessible
If you have questions about accessibility, we’d be happy to help. Just call the number below and reference the product code: 105977P1

  • Children must be accompanied by an adult
  • A maximum of 22 people per trip time
  • Travellers should have a moderate physical fitness level
  • Not recommended with travelers with mobility issues
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s cancelled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 30 travellers

  • For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.

How much is Summit Experience - University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory?
Summit Experience - University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory price starts from $195.65. Discover and book Summit Experience - University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory on Tripadvisor
What is the Summit Experience - University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory cancellation policy?
Summit Experience - University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory cancellation policy: For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience. Discover and book Summit Experience - University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory on Tripadvisor
Which company provides Summit Experience - University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory?
Summit Experience - University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory is hosted by Dark Sky Project. Read reviews, discover additonal experiences or contact Dark Sky Project on Tripadvisor. Discover and book Summit Experience - University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory on Tripadvisor
How much time do I need for Summit Experience - University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory?

If you have questions about this tour or need help making your booking, we’d be happy to help. Just call the number below and reference the product code: 105977P1

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About the operator
Don’t take it from us – here’s what people have to say about this operator:
  • Dark Sky Project
    1,140
    Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
    Joined in April 2008
  • iWuverine83
    0 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Amazing, Must-do experience on the South Island
    New Zealand is full of beautiful and wonderful experiences, and I have to say - this was possibly the most memorable one of our 2 week trip. Very fortunate that our tour to the crater could proceed so we could see the millions of stars in the night sky. Not just a simple stargazing trip, the staff were so knowledgeable and approachable giving us a crash course in astronomy 101. Would definitely visit again if I have the good fortune to visit NZ in the future.
    Written 6 April 2024
  • Robert D
    0 contributions
    1.0 of 5 bubbles
    Scam.
    Say this company run a scam. Avoid. If there are clouds they will not refund you’re trip the claim their Terms and Conditions allow them to keep your money and give a subpar indoor talk. AVOID
    Written 28 March 2024
  • GeorgeM926
    0 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Made the very best of conditions
    We could not go to the summit due to high winds . We were offered a full refund but decided to go to the other activity . This was somewhat blighted by cloud and bright moon . That said the guides were great and making the best of what must also be for them disappointing conditions . We still had a great experience and I’m sure all would have been satisfied but just as we were leaving we were told we all had a 50% refund . Great customers service and despite the elements against us and enjoyable time
    Written 26 March 2024
  • TorontoPaul2014
    0 contributions
    3.0 of 5 bubbles
    Not worth the cost
    While the tour leader was enthusiastic , I didn’t think the experience was worth the cost. Most of the time was spent waiting to have a quick turn at one of the two available telescopes. I would not recommend this tour.
    Written 25 March 2024
  • TonyD2860
    0 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    The things you didn’t know!
    A very interesting and educational experience. The guide was excellent and hugely knowledgeable. A good way to spend a spare hour.
    Written 20 March 2024
  • Reviewer4691
    0 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great experience
    Although we were booked on the summit tour this tour was amazing. The guides were very knowledgeable and views great. And Phillipa are shuttle driver kindly took us back to the campsite.
    Written 6 March 2024
  • G7624KPjimh
    0 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Such a Fascinating tour!
    Our tour was at 11 pm and we were concerned that the cloud cover would prevent us from doing this tour, but we got lucky because the clouds started clearing as we drove out to the crater. This was probably the most informative tours that we have ever been on. The lecturer was so informative of the constellations, the solar system and the various stars. They had 3 telescopes set up to look deep into the sky, but the most interesting part of the tour was just listening to the lecturer and seeing him point out all the objects in the sky. Would highly recommend this! Just be aware that it was pretty chilly with a good wind, so I suggest that your dress accordingly.
    Written 25 February 2024
  • 357silkeu
    0 contributions
    3.0 of 5 bubbles
    Unfortunately the trip was cancelled
    The trip to the crater was canceled due to a large grey cloud & we were given a refund which was great. We were offered a talk in the observatory which was inspiring . There was a lack of Oxygen in the room which prompted me to leave early.
    Written 20 February 2024
  • taniabaxter
    0 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Don’t miss this experience
    We absolutely loved the Dark Sky Crater Experience! It is one of the best tours I’ve been on. Me, my partner and our teenage daughter were all blown away by the whole experience, and there were so many highlights: just seeing the stars without the usual light pollution; looking thru the telescopes at Jupiter, Alpha Centauri, and other stars, clusters and galaxies, and we were especially impressed with the guide called Marina. She is enthusiastic with a wealth of knowledge and she made the experience extra special. I’ve been camping many times and seen the stars but Marina really explained the night sky and how to find various constellations and how to navigate using the Southern Cross etc. A must-see experience.
    Written 12 January 2024
  • 22ccsydney
    0 contributions
    3.0 of 5 bubbles
    Disappointed
    This was a bit disappointing for the price. Geared more for younger kids - not space literate teenagers and adults. I hoped to learn a bit more about the Dark Sky Project, research etc but it was mostly about Māori astronomy, which was quite interesting, but not sure it was enough to sustain the 45mins at the $180 it cost for our family. .
    Written 11 January 2024
  • MissHK2009
    0 contributions
    1.0 of 5 bubbles
    Unreasonable Arrangement for Cancellation
    We had booked the stargazing tour for Christmas Eve (12:00 midnight). After we reached the gathering point inside the Dark Project building at 11:30pm, the staff advised us to walk around in the building for a while for other customers to arrive. Well, we wandered in the souvenir shop then. At about 12:00, the staff waved all the customers to the front desk but declared that the activity had to be cancelled for cloudy/ rainy weather. And customers could only either: 1) switch to another indoor stargazing activity which fee is much lower than the outdoor one we enrolled 2) get refund, not full refund but only the difference between the amount we had paid and the fee of the indoor activity. The arrangement is so ridiculous. Firstly, why not notify customers well in advance that the tour has to be cancelled? The weather was not that good whole day. We were still asked to walk around for a while in the gathering point before their declaration of cancellation. Secondly, cancellation for bad weather is at no fault of customers but no full refund is allowed (except booking via agent which we did, luckily).
    Written 9 January 2024
  • bbyma
    0 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Good tour for rainy day
    Good way to spend a cloudy day, we went for the 130$NZD family ticket (daytime planetarium experience). Mikey is a good narrator and we were taken into three different rooms that displayed image projections. Leant about Māori creation stories and also how to navigate the night sky.
    Written 22 December 2023
  • gilltomc
    0 contributions
    1.0 of 5 bubbles
    Rude unhelpful staff on the ticket desk and inflexibility of ticketing.
    Unfortunately the weather was against us and despite returning at 2am the cloud cover was too thick to see. We had tickets for three of us for the crater experience and didn't want to see the virtual tour which is offered when it's cloudy. So we asked if the cost of the three crater tickets could be exchanged for two more expensive summit experience tickets to enable one of us that lives in New Zealand to come back at a later date. Two of us have to return to the UK so can't come back. The person on the ticket desk pretended that he didn't understand our request and was very rude. So they have my money and don't care and can't be flexible. Just a bad experience for us and very disappointing on the customer service side of things.
    Written 12 December 2023
  • Tina C
    0 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Do not miss out on this opportunity!
    Amazing launch to space with Phillipa as our captain! She was fun and engaging as we rode to the observatory and kept us feeling safe (even with driving in the pitch black!). Our fearless leader, Tu, has great enthusiasm as he explained about stars and planets and how the world of space works. Dan came and helped out towards the end with showing us the different phases of stars being born. We were so grateful for the coats provided to us at the beginning of the tour (we wanted to keep them, they were so warm), but it was still a pretty cold/windy night at the observatory. We also did the virtual star gazing experience (with Dan) before the summit experience and we felt like it enhanced the experience greatly! Not only was Dan great at explaining things, but he made it easy to understand and you could tell how passionate he was about the work! Overall, this is one of the top experiences of our lives so far. Do not miss out on the opportunity to experience the night sky in a new way! We are hoping to come back very soon to do this all again!
    Written 29 November 2023
  • jamiedB1072AV
    0 contributions
    3.0 of 5 bubbles
    Heartbroken to have trip cancelled - love what they do
    I hate to say this, but our entire trip to NZ was planned around a new moon visit to Dark Sky Project. Visiting in the late spring we were so hopeful for great conditions, but our 9:30 pm tour was cancelled as we all milled about the lobby hoping for better news while light clouds passed through the sky. We are so passionate about night sky preserves and absolutely love what they are doing here - I hope we can return for the full experience. If you are hoping to do this, try to book on your first of multiple nights in the area - they did offer to rebook the next or later evenings but we were heading out of the region (our mistake!).
    Written 25 November 2023
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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles92 reviews
Excellent
65
Very good
7
Average
16
Poor
2
Terrible
2

Patrick W
Auckland Central, New Zealand42 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2021
Did the Summit Experience and I must say, I was disappointed. We did the tour on 29th July and were booked in for the 630pm tour. Upon check-in at 610pm the Customer Service staff member said she was unsure if the tour would even take place, and we would know at 630pm. This with hardly a cloud in the sky and forecast was very good.

The tour took place, and with three tours booked for that night, we felt it was really rushed. You get driven to the summit where the guide points out stars of interest with a laser, then get a change to look through three telescopes. Our family consists of three and we couldn't make out what we were looking at as the stars were so small and not that clear through all three telescopes.

You get told that if anyone is cold, there is a room with a glass roof and heated floor, however no-one got to sample it, as once everyone has seen through the telescopes, its time to board the bus to go back to base. Tour complete!.
My recommendation would be to download the star gazing app and park on a hill. Sorry, but save your money
Written 31 July 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Kia Ora Patrick, Thanks for choosing Dark Sky Project and for taking the time to share your experience with us. We are sorry to hear your experience did not live up to your expectations. We always monitor feedback really closely to ensure the experience evolves and continually develops. The Summit Experience is 1h45 in duration including transport, meaning customers will have 1h15 of stargazing - observation through naked eye and through telescopes (40min). Our tours aim to cater to guests of all levels of existing knowledge and understanding of astronomy. By talking through some of the fundamental principles behind what we're looking at in the night sky, we hope to ensure that every member of the tour group can appreciate the amazing view we enjoy from the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. We will discuss your points with the team – thank you again for the feedback. We welcome you to email us info@darkskyproject.co.nz with any further feedback. Thanks again for choosing us, and providing your comments. Ngā mihi, Manon
Written 15 August 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

GavinWA
Perth, Australia7 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2020 • Friends
The Summit Experience guides are knowledgeable and clearly passionate about astronomy but with the ~30 size group it is an extremely expensive way to experience essentially a half hour astronomy lecture and peer through 3 telescopes for a couple of seconds each.

My suggestion, drive or walk a bit out of town into the dark and look up at the sky with the aide of a smartphone app to know what you're looking at for free.

Overall not at all a bad experience but honestly only worth about a fifth of the ticket price, which has turned somthing that should be enjoyable and worthwhile into a expensive tourist trap.
Written 2 March 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

DADD23
Wellington, New Zealand106 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2021
Any interest in the stars and our galaxy will be handsomely rewarded by taking this tour. My wife and I were fortunate to strike a beautifully clear night and I guess this is the only 'gamble' one has to take when registering for the tour. Our guides were, to say the least, well informed! They also could put everything into 'layman's language' though quite clearly scientists in their own right. We also were warmly greeted at the centre in town, where the receptionist, Amber, who had communicated with us by email before our visit, proved every bit as efficient in her role as those who received us at the summit. The work that this team does in adding to our knowledge of the universe cannot be underestimated.
Written 21 April 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Kiwi1959
Berlin, Germany5 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
No problem with Dark Sky being unable to provide a clear night BUT very poor policy of no refund. Dark Skies are expecting people to plan a night back in Tekapo with accommodation and travel costs within 12 months in the hope of clear skies second time around is a bit rude. A partial refund should be the minimum on offer. Will not recommend to anyone.
Written 4 February 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Dusty W
Idaho72 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2024 • Solo
Highly recommended when in Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
The exsperiance begins with boarding with Philippa, our pilot on the space shuttle to the Galaxy. Philippa is a wealth of knowledge and entertainment as she navigated the narrow steep windy road to the summit and Observatory. Our guides on the summit were filled with a wealth of knowledge. The time spent learning about the southern sky and what the galaxy has to hold was beyond belief. Then again Philippa boarded us back on her Galaxy space shuttle for the return trip.
Written 21 January 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Nicole Z
2 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
The whole experience is very good. Good guidance of looking at the stars and using the telescope. If u just want to look a star u dont necessarily need to go on top of the mountain, anywhere a bit darker in Lake Tekapo would work. $180 for this is just too expensive ……
Written 18 May 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

MitzygirlNZ
new zealand141 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2020
Walked into the booking office on Christmas Eve to inquire about Stargazing tours, was told there was one at 2.15am! My husband shook his head and said it was too late. Anyhow we decided to go ahead so we booked and paid on the spot. Well, it was worth every effort! They provided very warm jackets and shuttle up to the summit. Two guides waited for us when we arrived, for the next hour and half, I was completely and utterly gob smacked by such beautiful Dark Sky Reserve in our own backyard! In fact, we had the perfect weather and the Moon has just gone down. It was as though I could reach out my hand and touch the stars...it was a magical experience!
Do it, it will blow your mind.
Written 3 February 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Edward Tomlins-Gill
Leighton Buzzard, UK7 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Straight off, we couldn't do the summit because it was full cloud. We opted to have a partial refund and do the indoor experience and it was incredible.

David, our guide, was deeply knowledgeable and he took us around the universe using their bespoke screening room (think like a cinema but more comfortable and very intimate).

The whole experience was excellent and well worth the cost of 40NZD per person.

Would easily recommend.
Written 10 March 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Kia Ora Edward! Thank you for your review and comments. We are happy that you enjoyed the Dark Sky Experience. We hope to see you soon again. Have a lovely day! Ngā Mihi, Dark Sky Project team
Written 10 March 2023
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

James G
Oamaru, New Zealand250 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2021
The weather for our visit was just about perfect--viewing conditions were pristine and while it was reported that it'd be chilly up on the mountain, with the coats we were given (and the layers we wore underneath, as instructed) I hardly felt the cold. Plus, the information provided by Adrian and Dan was so interesting, and extremely well presented, that you had no time to feel the cold. We got to look through three telescopes (the largest one, in the dome, was being used and was not available for the tour, so a discount was given to us) and we saw some amazing things, from the binary star of Alpha Centauri, to the Sombrero Galaxy, the Jewel Box Cluster, and a globular cluster (NGC 3951?). Truly fascinating!
Written 2 May 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Heather P
Wellington, New Zealand203 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2021
We did a 1:30am tour and were very lucky that visibility was 100% and there was no wind. What a mind blowing experience and defiantly, for me, the highlight of a South Island tour.

Our guide was excellent gave a great explanation of the various stars and constellations in the sky. The group then split into two and we had the opportunity to see amazing images through two different telescopes - another astronomer, who was also excellent looked after the second group then we swapped over.

The most amazing thing was seeing new planets forming in another galaxy - WOW!!

The experience is something that I will never forget.
Written 26 February 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Summit Experience - University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory provided by Dark Sky Project

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