What does your tour involve?

Tekapo Star Gazing combines Tekapo’s top two attractions: the amazing clear skies of the Aoraki International Dark Sky Reserve and the relaxing hot pools of Tekapo Springs. What you can see in the night sky depends on the moon’s cycle, the time of year and the weather forecast.

Incredible features of the night sky can be viewed all year round. If the sky is clear (or partially clear) you will see dazzling stars, constellations, galaxies, and planets. If the sky is not visible at all, a fully guided indoor tour will be utilised, featuring a high definition projector and high quality astro-photography, NASA videos and hi-tech sky-watcher software.

Where is Tekapo Star Gazing located?

Our Star Gazing tours are conducted at Tekapo Springs which lies within the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, the largest dark sky reserve in the world at over 4300 square kilometres. Tours are conducted on our dark sky balcony and in our hot pools.

The Tekapo Star Gazing main office is located next to the Godley Hotel, opposite the Challenge petrol station, on State Highway 8 in the Tekapo village. If you choose the shuttle transport option, this is where you will check in.

What if we can’t see the night sky? Will I get a refund?

If the sky is not visible because of weather, we will conduct an exciting indoor guided star tour utilising a large high definition projector. Guests will still get an astronomy / astrological / story telling tour, but with the use of high definition colour photos and 'out of this world' videos which you would not get to see through telescopes. We will still try to introduce you to our amazing telescopes too! Operational costs remain the same regardless of whether the tour is conducted indoors or outdoors. Therefore, we do not offer refunds. Please refer to our terms and conditions and cancellation policy for more information.

I need to cancel my booking. What is your refund policy?

Full refunds are available up to 6 hours before the tour departure time. Please allow 5 working days for your refund to be received.

What if only part of the sky is visible? Will the tour still go on?

Yes, Star Gazing Tours will always go ahead despite the weather. Tours will utilise what parts of the night sky we can see even if there is cloud. Alternatively, Tekapo Star Gazing will conduct an indoor guided star tour with the use of a high definition projector if the sky is completely covered with cloud. Guests will still get the exclusive use of the hot pools with relaxing music.

How will I know if a tour has been cancelled?

It is very unlikely a tour will be cancelled due to weather, but if this does happen we will either call, text-message or email you if a tour is cancelled and endeavour to book you on the next available tour. Please refer to our terms and conditions.

What time do the tours start?

Tour start times will depend on the time of year and when it gets dark enough to see the night sky. Please check our online booking calendar for the date you want to book a Star Gazing Tour.

My child is almost six years old and wants to do the tour. Can they join us?

Unfortunately, for safety reasons we must set an age limit and we have endeavoured to keep it as low as possible. So no, unless your child is six years old or older they cannot come on one of our guided star gazing tours. Proof of age may be required if we suspect your child to be under 6. We prefer to book families with younger children on the earliest tour of the evening. During the New Zealand School Holidays we sometimes set our earliest tour times for families. Check out the booking calendar for more details.

My child is a teenager, can he/she come on a later tour?

If your child (or teenager) is over 6 years old, then yes, they can join a later tour. We prefer families with multiple younger children to do the earliest tour available.

What should I wear on a Star Gazing Tour?

As the tours are mainly conducted outdoors we recommend wearing warm clothing, particularly over winter months. Over winter we recommend wearing gloves, a warm hat, warm footwear and a jacket. During the winter months we have our open fire going to keep you cosy and warm too. Oh, and don't forget your swim wear and towel!

What about the moon? Will it disrupt star gazing?

Not at all! The moon will lessen the brightness of more distant stars and objects but there will still be plenty to view. A bright moon also gives you a very close and interesting object to observe through the telescopes.

Can I bring my own drinks to the tour? Or can I bring drinks from the cafe into the pools?

No, for health and safety as well as liquor licensing requirements we cannot allow you to bring your own alcoholic beverages. We also cannot allow any alcohol into the pool area for the same reasons, and no non-alcoholic beverages in glass containers (plastic is fine). However, alcoholic drinks are available in our café area for consumption in our café and out on our dark-sky balcony during the first part of your tour.

What if I don’t want to go in the hot pools?

There is no strict requirement that you enter the pools as part of the tour although it is highly recommended. There are places that you can sit or stand by the poolside for the second part of the tour. If you intend to leave before the full tour is over, it is recommended that you choose the self-drive option when booking your tour as then you will be able to leave at your leisure without having to wait for the shuttle. There is no reduction in price if you decide not to use the pools.

Is there a place I can leave my belongings while in the pool?

Yes, we have lockable lockers for $3 just outside the change rooms, and open cubbies /shelving next to the pools.

Do you rent swimwear and towels?

Yes, you can borrow our swimwear and towels if needed. If you have your own swimwear and towel, please bring them.

Where does the tour start from and what time should I arrive?

If you are using our free shuttle please check in at the Tekapo Star Gazing office (State Highway 8, beside the Godley Hotel in Tekapo Village) 30 minutes before your tour star time.

If you are self-driving or walking to meet the tour at Tekapo Springs (at 6 Lakeside Drive), please check in at the bottom of the driveway no later than 15 minutes before your tour start time.

What if I’m late for the tour?

If you are late for the tour, the tour will proceed without you and you are not permitted to join the tour if we believe this will cause disruption. We do not offer refunds for late arrivals so please ensure you are on time. Please refer to our terms and conditions.

Do you offer pick-up in Tekapo for the tour?

Yes, if you require transport to and from Tekapo Springs and our Town Office, please book that option online or let our reception staff know when you make the booking. We do not currently offer pickup from accommodation providers unless you have a large group (10+ people).

Can I buy a gift voucher for a tour?

Yes, gift vouchers are available from our website, at our Town Office in Lake Tekapo, or from Reception at Tekapo Springs between our usual 10am to 9pm operating hours.

What does the price of the tour include?

The price of a tour includes either a guided night sky tour, viewing of the night sky and its major features through our Celestron telescopes (dependent on weather conditions) OR an exciting indoor guided astronomical / astrological / story telling guided tour with the assistance of a large high definition projector. Both the indoor and outdoor tours include a soak in the hot pools where guides will be by the poolside to answer questions, give information and tell stories. The hot pool portion of the tour will feature relaxing music with low red lighting and floating hammocks for you to relax in the water. Our café will be open for drinks and snacks throughout the tour too.

Do I need to know about astronomy to understand your tour?

No, our trained guides will deliver a guided tour that will include some basic information on some of the closest and brightest features such as stars, planets, constellations, and galaxies. Guides will educate you about the mythology and cultural aspects of the night sky including navigation for Maori and European cultures. Our tours have an emphasis on storytelling and entertainment mixed with some fact.

Can I share my photos online of the tour?

Yes, if this is not for commercial purposes. Please refer to our terms and conditions.

Can I video record the tour?

No, we do not allow customers to video our tours. Please refer to our terms and conditions.

Will you share photos online of the tour?

Yes. However, participation in any group or promotional photo is voluntary. We will post any group photos taken on Facebook so all customers have access to them. Release of photos taken for promotional purposes will be at our discretion and these may not be posted on social media. Please see our terms and conditions.

Do you have different types of star gazing tours?

We have English and Mandarin speaking tours that either utilise the night sky and telescopes, OR our high definition projector to give the same guided tour. Both options will go on to enjoy the hot pools with relaxing music, floating hammocks and low lighting.

Are your tours in multiple languages?

We have English and Mandarin speaking tours at this stage. Our first tour of the night can be conducted in both languages at the same time using a non-disruptive, state-of-the-art live translation system. Feel free to email bookings@tekapostargazing.co.nz to enquire about other language options that may be available.

Can I buy food and drinks on the tour?

Yes, our café and bar will be open for snacks and drinks including non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Please note that due to health and safety as well as liquor licensing rules, we cannot allow any alcohol or non-alcoholic beverages in glass containers into the pool area. Please note that the café and bar may not be open on every single tour depending on demand.

How long are we in the pools?

Approximately 45 minutes.

What Temperature are the Pools?

The hot pool temperatures will range from 37 to 39 degrees depending on season and weather conditions.

What type of telescopes are you using?

We use Celestron reflector 9.25 telescopes and Sky Watcher refractor Esprit 120 telescopes. These are modern, high-powered telescopes. Please note that our guides will consider what objects are visible in the night sky and use the appropriate telescopes for the best night sky viewing so you may only use one type of telescope on a tour.

How many people are on each tour?

A maximum of 30 people are on each tour. If you book a private tour then we can accommodate 40 people per tour as long as this is arranged in advance. Please email bookings@tekapostargazing.co.nz to enquire about availability for this.

Can I stay in the café after my tour has ended?

Customers are welcome to buy a takeaway hot drink or snack as they leave. However as there will be another tour starting, we ask that customers please vacate the premises and either catch their shuttle back to Tekapo Star Gazing’s office or make their own way home.

Can I bring my camera to shoot astrophotography? Can you teach me astrophotography?

Currently we may be able offer the opportunity to take astrophotography on the last tour of the evening for approximately 5-10 minutes in between the two parts of the tour. We have a tripod that you can use and our guides can help you adjust your camera's settings as needed. Please note that we cannot guarantee availability for astrophotography as only some of our guides have experience in this, so this service may not be available on all tours. It will also be time-dependant, so if the tour you have booked for is fully booked there will not be time to allow for photography. Watch this space for astrophotography-focussed tour options in the future!

How long are the tours?

Our tours are around 2 hours long. This time allows for our guided outdoor OR indoor tour of approximately 45 minutes, time for you to get changed into swimwear and enjoy the pools for approximately 45 minutes and time to get a drink or a snack after getting changed back into street clothes as your tour ends.

Health & Safety

We take health and health along with your wellbeing very seriously whilst on our tour It is essential that you do not run around the pool complex or dive into pools as you are likely to hurt yourself. Running is strictly prohibited.

If you have a known medical condition please advise our team on arrival prior to commencing our Star Gazing experience. As per the national pool supervision requirement all children under 8 years of age must be kept within arm’s reach of a caregiver aged 16 years or older at all times whilst in the hot pools.

Alcohol is not able to be consumed in the hot pools, it can however be consumed in the designated café areas. Guests who arrive intoxicated will be asked to leave, this is due to enforcement of the Liquor Licensing requirements of our license.

Smoking is only permitted in our designated smoking area, please ask staff where this is. For safety reasons, children under the age of six (6) cannot join any tour. Children under 15 are not permitted on our late tours. This is strictly adhered to.

Terms & Conditions

Full payment will be required at the time of your booking whether in person, online or at an agent. You agree to and accept Tekapo Star Gazing’s Terms & Conditions and Cancellation Policy, as outlined here.

Tekapo Star Gazing asks you to understand that we are unable to guarantee full clarity, perfect skies, and visibility of certain objects in the night sky. We are in an alpine environment where the weather can change very quickly.

Tekapo Star Gazing tours will operate regardless of weather conditions. In the event of inclement weather or unclear skies, an exciting astronomy / astrological / story telling tour with your guide utilising a large high definition projector will replace the outdoor portion of the tour.

Please be aware that your tour is not subject to discounts or refunds for any reason, including the weather.

Tours may be subject to partial or full cloud cover for parts, or all of the tour. In this case, we will continue the tour using the sky which is visible. If no sky is visible we will move to our indoor tour using a high definition projector. Tours will still enjoy a soak in the relaxing hot pools after-hours with lights dimmed and relaxing music playing. Tekapo Star Gazing has the right to cancel or change the duration of the tour in response to extreme weather or environmental or operational conditions.

For safety reasons, children under the age of six cannot join any tour. This will be strictly adhered to.

Any photography taken from Tekapo Springs is for personal use only. No pictures or imagery can be used for commercial purposes unless Tekapo Star Gazing has given permission.

Customers are informed that participation in photos taken on the star gazing tours is purely voluntary. These photos may be made public and used on Tekapo Star Gazing’s social media sites and website.
  • Please note:
  • Tekapo Star Gazing cannot predict the weather nor guarantee weather conditions. All objects may not be visible. However, we endeavor to offer a great indoor guided astronomy / astrological / story telling tour with the aid of a high definition projector if cloud totally hides the night sky. Many of the astronomy photos and videos you will see in this indoor presentation are in colour and high detail. You would not see this colour through telescopes.
  • White lights are not allowed on any tours (flash photography, illuminated mobile phones, flashlights, personal torches, LCD screens, etc.) as white light will diminish your eyes ability to view the stars.
  • Smoking is only permitted in our designated smoking area.
  • Due to Health & Safety requirements, no alcohol or non-alcoholic beverages in glass containers are permitted in the hot pools.
  • Objects viewed through the telescope are generally black and white.
  • Swimwear is required in the pools always. Please bring your own swimwear and towel for your tour. Swimwear and towels are available for rent but you must book these in advance when you book your tour.
  • Warm clothing is essential on all tours regardless of the season, but particularly from April to October. Our tours will spend approximately half of the time outside listening to our guides and looking through our telescopes.
  • Photos you take on the tour may be used for personal use only.
  • Video recording and any reproduction of our star gazing tours without specific written permission is strictly prohibited.
  • It is essential that you do not run around the pool complex as you are likely to fall and hurt yourself. Running is strictly prohibited.
  • Lockers are available to use throughout your tour free of charge.

Cancellation Policy

Tekapo Star Gazing (TSG) Tours will operate regardless of weather conditions. In the event of inclement weather or unclear skies, an exciting astronomy / astrological / story telling presentation with your guide utilising a large high definition projector screen will replace the 40 minute outdoor guided tour portion. The remainder of the tour utilizing our hot pools will proceed as normal.

Please be aware that your tour is not subject to discounts or refunds for any reason, including the weather.

In addition, TSG reserves the right to cancel any star gazing tour at the discretion of TSG staff, due to extreme weather conditions (i.e. lightning strikes, heavy snow etc). In these instances, a full refund will be issued.

If you cancel your booking 6 hours prior to your tour’s departure, you will be refunded the full amount that you have paid. The 6-hour period will be strictly adhered to.

If you are a no-show, or cancel your tour less than 6 hours before the tour departs, we cannot issue a refund.

Refunds will be processed within 5 working days. Reimbursement will be in the same form as payment.

If you made a booking with a travel agency/wholesaler or any third party, the cancellation policy is that of the agent’s/organisation’s arrangement.

Should you wish to switch your tour due to weather, we will book you on an alternative date and tour within 12 months. However, if this happens within 6 hours of a tour departure, then the tour becomes non-refundable.

Gift vouchers are valid for 12 months. They cannot be redeemed for cash, are non-refundable and non-transferable.