Trip Planner : South Pacific / New Zealand / South Island / Canterbury Region / Mackenzie District / Lake Tekapo / Childrens Museums / Earth and Sky
Earth and Sky, Lake Tekapo
Categories: Observatories, Sightseeing Tours, Museums, Tours
Earth and Sky is located in Lake Tekapo. With our custom trip planner, Lake Tekapo attractions like Earth and Sky can be center stage of your vacation plans, and you can find out about other attractions like it, unlike it, near it, and miles away.
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Can not recommend these guys enough - excellent night on Mt. John with a gaggle of very knowledgable, likeminded scientists. Had a quick opportunity to visit some of their in place telescopes too whil... read more »
We had a choice of 3 hot springs. These springs are filled with water from the mountain and heated. Temperature ranged from around 32degrees to about 35 I think Springs were clean and we were able to ... read more »
When booking online I wasn't sure what the difference between the 4 different tour options was. I booked on the only tour that had room, and then found on my booking confirmation that our tour was at ... read more »
We booked a tour with Earth and Sky which ended up with 100% cloud cover, disappointed we were allowed to move onto another tour the next day. Again this tour was 100% coverage and the staff moved us onto another tour later the same day... you guess it 100% coverage. In the end we didn't take a tour and opted for a refund - this was a good will gesture which was not strictly in the T&Cs so we were pleased. The staff were very helpful and sympathetic - not an easy job to tell a room full of people who came for stars that there are no stars. Very professional and friendly staff who were very understanding hence 4 stars. We did end up seeing stars simply by driving up to the observatory gate - see my photo.
The Mt John Night Tour at Earth & Sky Tekapo was purchased as a Birthday Gift for me, from my partner and his parents; in December. We are Queenstown residents. Paid $290.00 full price for 2 people to go on the tour which includes Star Gazing. (kind of the whole point) Unfortunately, even though the expiry date is noted on the Voucher, we didn't look at the expiry date and assumed this would be valid for 1 year as most GC are 1 Year. However Earth & Sky choose to make their expiry date only six months. We didn't realize until May that it was expiring at the end of May. We have full time jobs and commitments so I called and spoke with someone; asked if we could extend the voucher for a few months as we don't have very many opportunities to get out to Tekapo. (3.5 hours one way from Queenstown) She was quite rude and stated that the terms and conditions are clearly written on the voucher. Then reluctantly said she could only extend for one month. Unfortunately with only 1 month extension we had to change plans and make arrangements but we made it to Tekapo this past weekend; only to find that the weather had taken a turn and a storm was coming in. It was terribly cold and windy and we were advised by staff there was 100% cloud cover; and that everyone could either go on the tour and have the "presentation" (in the cold crazy wind) without star gazing; or we could get a full refund (minus the booking fee of $20). But this refund did not apply to us, as we have a Gift Voucher. (which we paid full price for.) We were really disappointed that Star Gazing wasn't an option that night and really wanted the full experience since we've already paid $290.00. i've since spoken with the Manager "Mili" and Admin Manager "Wendy" and they've both advised that they cannot possibly extend the voucher any longer, therefore not honoring the voucher. During my call with Wendy, she was quite rude and kept stating "it's all right there in the terms and conditions"; and then eventually said, "Well send me an email and I'll think about it." I sent her a very respectful detailed email and she responded declining my request saying their 6 months expiry date is very strict. There really is no reason for them to not extend the expiry to at the very least a year. Most GC are a year. They don't lose anything by doing extending it. We also said that we would be happy to pay the difference if the rates had gone up. But the rates had not gone up. There is no expiry on cash and this seems quite unfair; and that they are willing to effectively steal our money and not honor the full gift voucher within a year; or at least a refund. The only thing they've gained here is our $290.00. They wouldn't have lost any money by extending our Voucher but they've just lost a customer; and we will be sure to be very vocal about this experience to anyone who asks about Earth & Sky. In addition, my partner called to try to speak with the General Manager Margaret, and he was told by Wendy that "there is no point in calling Margaret because she's not going to change her mind." Wendy was in no way helpful and she hung up on my partner. An unnecessarily sad and disappointing experience."
The tour up the mountain was sold out, so we went to the Cowan's Hill observatory instead (also through Earth & Sky). Chris was our tour guide, and he was fantastic! We got to see both the moon, and M42 in great detail through the smaller 11" Celestron telescope. Plus we got to see another deep space nebula through the bright and sharp 14" reflector telescope. It was a smaller group than the one up on the mountain at the bigger observatory, so we got more time individually for observing, plus it is a better price. The larger observatory was sold out, but we were not disappointed with this tour of the night sky. We had a bonus getting to see the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights). Make sure you book when it's not a full moon! You should book when it's around half moon or less. A full moon creates as much light pollution as a large city, and you won't get to see as many stars or deep space objects.
I had heard great things about the observatory. Maybe I should have chosen a different tour, but I sadly found the Cowen's tour to be a bad value. The guides were knowledgable and kind, but I don't think it's necessary to take the tour for the steep price of $90. If it were significantly less, I probably would have thought it was fine, but I left feeling empty handed. The second night in town, I happily enjoyed another gorgeous night sky for free. Unfortunately, this tour was not for me. Maybe you'll find it to be a good value, but I walked away wondering what happened to my money.
The company is kind for traveler. I encountered the rare raining day in Tekapo. They told me that I could change my booked tour to the next day. However, it is misfortune that the wind in Mt. John became too strong to go for the observatory in the second day. It is a pity although they give me full refund finally.
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