Welcome to the Aoraki Mackenzie area of New Zealand – an International Dark Sky Reserve, and one of only five in the world! The Mount John stars, and Lake Tekapo's crystal clear blue waters are a site to see. So for obvious reasons, we needed to visit.
In order to see the stars to their fullest potential, you can visit Mount John, and take one of their Night-Time Observatory Tours. We spent the day enjoying the Mount John facilities, looking through their high powered telescopes, enjoying their delicious hot chocolate from the Astro Cafe and trying not to blow away from the strong wind gusts! One of the facility guides, Conrad, told us that recently wind speeds reached upwards of 270 kph, ripping off facility roofs and tearing up asphalt roads! So the winds at Mount John are no joke. Bring a jacket and a hat with a head strap…
We enjoyed our day tour of Mount John, but, as I have previously mentioned, New Zealand is expensive. So, instead of paying for an expensive tour, we decided to go for the low budget tour of driving out to a dark spot, just outside of Twizel, and see what we could see … and we saw the Milky Way! The sky was so clear that night, which, cough, cough, meant it was freezing, but it was the perfect recipe to see stars and galaxies far away. Mount John star gazing is beautiful during the day, and I can only assume stunning at night, but I felt sufficiently covered with our little jaunt outside of Twizel and my introduction to New Zealand's view of the Milky Way.