A night of Astronomy: Mt John Observatory

From Christchurch to Christchurch
  • Canterbury & Upper South Island
  • Group
  • Wildlife and Nature
View Similar Tours

Tour Description

 Mt John Observatory Overnight Experience

This is a truly unique experience.  For the first time ever the University of Canterbury will open the doors of Mt John Observatory to a limited number of people for an overnight stay.  Usually this type of experience is limited to astronomers and scientists exclusively, but this is your chance to see the night skies as never before.

The observatory is considered New Zealand’s premier astronomical research centre and houses 6 powerful telescopes including the country’s biggest which can observe 50 million stars each night.

What is on offer is exclusive use of one of the biggest telescopes in NZ for the whole night, an exclusive experience guided by some of the New Zealand’s top astronomers.

Don’t miss out, this experience is only available to those taking our Southern Lights by Flight and is limited to 8 people per night. 

Viva's Best Bits...

This is an exclusive experience available only to those taking our Southern Lights by Flight, this is the first time the public have been allowed inside the observatory for an overnight experience.

There are 6 telescopes including the country’s biggest which can observe 50 million stars each night.

" As part of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, Mount John is one of the best places in the world to observe the planets, stars, galaxies and solar systems, and you will have top astronomers with you as well!" Rachel, Team Viva

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Christchurch Mt John, Tekapo

Departing Christchurch at 1pm, we will head to the Tekapo where we will stop and enjoy an early dinner prior to heading up to the Mt John Observatory.

The University of Canterbury’s Mount John University Observatory is New Zealand’s only professional research Observatory. Encircled by mountain peaks, with a stunning vista across Lake Tekapo, the Observatory is arguably the most beautiful in the world. Located at an altitude of 1020M, the Observatory is home to an array of powerful instruments, including the largest optical telescope in New Zealand, the 1.8M Diameter MOA. Every clear night astronomers from around the world use the telescopes to advance the frontiers of human knowledge.

The general public are not usually allowed to use the research telescopes at night, but as a special fundraiser to support astronomy at the University of Canterbury a few lucky passengers can purchase an exclusive “Night of astronomy” at the observatory. Guided by expert astronomers, you will get an after dark tour of the facilities and exclusive use (as a group) of the 0.6M Boller & Chivens telescope. The telescope is yours for the entire night, and adapters will be made available for you to attach your camera (Canon/Nikon/Sony) to the telescope to get your own images of the night sky. Experts will be on hand to point the telescope and explain the various things you will be looking at.

Some snacks and refreshments will be available for a midnight snack.

Day 2
Mt John, Tekapo Christchurch

Some may choose to stay awake all night enjoying the night sky, others may choose to sleep when they wish. Either way it will be a quiet morning at the observatory giving people the opportunity to rest. There will be some simple breakfast and snack foods available that people can help themselves to at leisure.

Shortly before midday we will return to Christchurch. You will have more time to rest or will be able to join our fabulous pre-flight event which is being held at the Antarctic Centre (additional cost applies).

What’s Included

  • Included Copy 20 Basic accommodation at Mt John Observatory (2 people per bunk room, bedding provided)
  • Included Copy 20 Dinner at a restaurant in Tekapo on Day 1
  • Included Copy 20 Drinks and snacks at Mt John Observatory
  • Included Copy 20 A light breakfast / lunch will be available for people to access at their leisure
Fees & Services
  • Included Copy 20 Transport to and from Christchurch to Johns Observatory
  • Included Copy 20 Guided Site tour (1m telescope, 1.8M telescope, 0.6M telescope)
  • Included Copy 20 Night observing and photographing using the 0.6M telescope
  • Included Copy 20 Access to the summit for photography
  • Included Copy 20 Guided by University of Canterbury staff and astronomers


  • Included Exclusive tour to Mount John University Observatory
  • Included Use the largest optical telescope in New Zealand
  • Included Unique opportunity to photography the night sky
  • Included Access to Mt John summit for photography
Click here for dates & prices

2 days

Price from

$1,264 USD

Per person, twin share

including GST

Select Date