Welcome to Earth & Sky - Window to the Universe!

Experience the wonders of the universe with Earth & Sky.  Join us on one of our famous Night-time Observatory Tours at one of two dedicated locations in the heart of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.  With tours at University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory and Cowan’s Observatory on offer, you’ll have plenty of programs from which to choose.  Let us sweep you up in the excitement.  We're all about learning and sharing our enthusiasm for the universe, and the science that gets uthere.  Based in Lake Tekapo we try to provide both education and fun for those learning about the stars and our place in the universe!  And what better place to set your imagination free and your spirits soaring skyward than the award-winning Astro-Cafe.  Visit the Cafe and be the envy of all as you tuck into homemade delights while soaking up the unrivaled views.


Tour Options

Below is a description for tours that we are currently offering. We also run tours in Japanese and Chinese.

Mt. John Twilight Tour

Take in the stunning view from Mt John as the Sun submerges below the Southern Alps. You will have a chance to visit one of New Zealand's largest research telescopes and explore behind the scenes, astronomers as they begin operations for the evening.  After, enjoy a delicious treat in our Astro-Café; then join us outside to peer through telescopes and explore the darkening sky.  This tour has something for everyone!


Mt. John Observatory Tour

Join us on our famous observatory tour on Mt John!  Come see the wonders of the southern night sky, and experience the thrill of peering through powerful telescopes!  When the stars are hidden from view, take a journey with us to discover the nocturnal world of an astronomer: see huge research equipment that is out-of-bounds to the general public and experience the wonders of astronomy!


Cowan’s Observatory Tour

Perfect for those on a limited budget or those who don’t wish to stay up too late.  Allow one of our astronomy guides to introduce you to the various gems of the southern night sky using our telescopes at a dark, sheltered, nearby location.

It is available on select nights, please contact for availability.


Mt. John Observatory Day Tour

Drive or walk up to the summit of Mt John and enjoy stunning panoramic views of the Mackenzie Country. Take a tour of New Zealand's largest telescope, where Kiwi and Japanese scientists conduct cutting edge gravitational microlensing research to hunt for new planets! If it is clear you might also be able to safely look at the sun using our special solar telescope. Afterwards, treat yourself to something special in our ultra-modern glass cafe overlooking the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo. Tours depart from the Astro Cafe and are subject to availability. Please enquire through our office. 

 This Tour is approximately 1/2 hour in length.  Depart, as per request, between 12 pm and 3 pm daily.


Please check in for our tours 20 minutes prior departure time at Earth & Sky!

Warm clothing & sturdy footwear essential - the majority of the tour is conducted outside & some walking is required. We cannot guarantee weather conditions; not all objects may be visible on any given night. 

Note: the last 400m of the coach trip up Mt John & first 400m downhill will be with park lights only.

Prior booking is essential.

Book your tour online now or by phoning- 03 680 6960 


1. We cannot guarantee weather conditions; not all objects may be visible on any given night. 

2. You are advised to use the restroom/toilet before joining.  Facilities are available at Mt. John University Observatory, but not at Cowan’s Observatory.

3. White lights are prohibited on our tours (LCD screens, flash photography, illuminated mobile phones, flashlights, torches, etc…).

4. Objects viewed through telescopes will generally appear only black and white.

5. We exercise a no drinking policy on our tours and reserve the right to refuse those who arrive in an intoxicated state.

6. All our tour locations are smoke free environments.

7. Strong, sturdy footwear advisable as there is minimal lighting and terrain is uneven.  Please exercise caution.

8. Warm clothing is essential on all our tours regardless of the season.  Tours are primarily conducted outside & some walking is required.

9. Please ensure your children do not use the telescopes as a jungle-gym.  Telescopes are not toys and are to be exclusively handled by guides.

10. Photos you may take on the tours are for personal use only – not commercial use.

11. To qualify for discounts you must present a valid card or suitable proof of age, either at the time of booking or check in for your tour. Further discounts do not apply to family specials or any other sale offers (including purchases of retail items and Day Tours).

At Mt John University Observatory

12. Participation in group photos, (available on tours to Mt John) is voluntary as these images will be posted on public websites such as Flickr.com and Facebook.

13. Mt. John Night-Time Observatory Tours offer complimentary hot chocolates as refreshment (other options are unavailable).

14. On the “Mt John Night Tour,” our complimentary astrophotography service is available, most nights; if you have a camera with bulb settings you may be able to capture some beautiful star photos.

15. NZ’s largest research telescopes are purely reserved for University staff.  At Mt. John University Observatory Earth & Sky Ltd. guests use 9.25 Inch and 16 Inch telescopes, when available.

16. A child is considered to be school aged- between the age of 5 and 17, however because of safety reasons, children under the age of 8 cannot join the "Twilight or Mt. John Observatory Tour".  This will be strictly adhered to. If you have children, under eight years, other tour options are available.

Our responsible tourism statement...

"To better understand the nature of the universe we live in by experiencing the earth and sky through research, education and environmental appreciation."

As a responsible Tourism Operator, Earth & Sky and Astro Café encourage it's customers and staff to consider the Mackenzie Country environment.

We believe in protecting our dark night sky, and want to ensure that your children and grandchildren can visit and enjoy it as well. We invite you to join us by supporting our initiatives and reducing your own environmental impact.

To this end, we have developed an environmental plan that reduces the energy and usage of our tours and facilities, reducing the light we emit at night and the waste that we generate.

Thank you for considering the beautiful Mackenzie Country environment.

 Good planets are hard to find - Steve Forbert

The Earth & Sky Team