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Home| Experiences| Adventure| New Zealand Experiences|Dark Sky Crater Experience

Cowan’s Observatory Crater Experience
From $107.79pp

Stargazing from Cowan’s Private Observatory, tucked away in a purpose-built crater is one of the best relaxing activities at night in Queenstown.

Designed specifically with stargazing in mind, the Crater Experience is the ideal stargazing experience in Takapō.

Discover the depths of the world renowned Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve from a purpose-built observation deck, which is sheltered from the cold wind and light pollution so your eyes get to gaze upon rare atmospheric beauty you don’t really get to see in crowded areas.

Explore the endless Southern skies from the observatory dome, and through a 14” telescope, observe planets, galaxies, and the Milky Way. Every night sky beholds something different, often visible through the naked eye. On top of that, the top level astronomy guides use handheld lasers to showcase the best of the evolving night sky.

The Crater Experience runs for 1 hour 15 minutes and includes transport to and from Cowan’s Private Observatory, expert astronomy guides, and guided viewing through our telescopes.

Trip Intinerary


Check in at Dark Sky Project 20 minutes before departure.
Please layer warm clothing ahead of your tour.
Travel a 5 minute drive to Cowan’s Private Observatory.
Stargaze using the naked eye guided by lasers, 14″ telescopes and through our observatory dome.
Return to Dark Sky Project Base.

Inclusions & Extras


  • Professional Astronomy Guides
  • Transport To and From Cowan’s Observatory
  • 14” Telescopes
  • 1 Hour 15 Minute Stargazing Tour

Not Included

  • Dinner
  • BYO Alcohol
  • Camping Under Stars

What to bring

  • Tour Voucher/Booking Confirmation
  • Warm Clothing
  • Closed Toe Shoes

Pick Ups & Departures

Meet at Dark Sky Project 20 minutes before check in.
Transfers to and from Cowan’s Observatory

Supplier Terms & Conditions

General information
Guests MUST check-in at the Customer Service Counter at Dark Sky Project, prior to an experience departure.

– The Summit Experience: 20 minutes prior to the scheduled departure

– The Crater Experience: 20 minutes prior to the scheduled departure

– The Dark Sky Experience: 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure

Dark Sky Project is unable to guarantee full clarity, ideal skies, or visibility of certain objects on its outdoor experiences. Both of our stargazing tours, the Summit Experience and the Crater Experience are weather dependent. In the event that the guiding team lead determines no stargazing is possible due to inclement weather conditions, customers are offered the options below;

– An alternative indoor tour in our purpose-built technological experience. This will be an hour in duration, at the value of $39.00 per adult, $19.00 per child. If you choose to join this tour, you will then be refunded the balance of your original ticket price.

– Transfer to a later departure the same night, another date of your choice (subject to availability).

– Open date your booking valid from the date of your cancelled booking (“credit voucher”).

a. The credit voucher is transferrable to another person.

b. Up until 24 hours prior to the date and time of any rebooked reservation you may change (subject to availability) or cancel your re-booking by contacting the Operator directly and your credit voucher will remain valid for the remainder of the 12 month period.

c. In the event that you make a new booking using your credit voucher but do not provide 24 hours notice of cancellation or do not utilise the booking (no show) the credit voucher is deemed to have been used.

d. The credit voucher will expire 12 months from the date of cancelled booking and cannot be redeemed after the expiry date.

– In the event none of the above options are suitable, full refunds are available.

Guests must abide by all rules and policies stipulated by Dark Sky Project and its representatives, including those displayed around the Dark Sky Project, and affiliated properties. This includes but isn’t limited to safety and operational instructions on the experience.

Guests are not eligible for refunds or other compensation if they are late and miss their experience departure. Guests who wish to rebook their experience must pay the full cost of the new booking. All experiences are subject to availability.

Health and safety
To minimize light pollution, guests are prohibited from using, or bringing, any white lights, including but not limited to LCD screens, flash photography, illuminated mobile phones, flashlights, torches, light up shoes etc. Smoking or alcohol / drug consumption is not permitted during any Dark Sky Project experience.

If guests are considered to be under the influence of alcohol, causing undue disruption or negatively impacting other guest’s experience, they may be removed from the experience at Dark Sky Project’s discretion. In this instance, no refund will be given.

All children must be actively supervised by a parent or guardian to ensure minimal disruption to other guests. A minimum ratio of 1 adult to two children is required. The Summit Experience is restricted to children 7 years and over. The Crater Experience is restricted to children 5 years and over.

Minimum clothing requirements
Warm clothing is essential on all our outdoor experiences regardless of the season. The Mackenzie region is an alpine environment which means it is cold at night, even during the summer months. An ECW (Extreme Cold Weather) jacket will be offered to guests on our Summit Experience only, however it is the responsibility of guests to wear suitable clothing. The following is a minimum guide only:

– Flat, warm and comfortable footwear suitable for walking on uneven terrain

– Wind-proof jackets, thermals and full, warm pants

– Hats and gloves

Please note: glowing, flashing or light-up shoes or clothing is strictly prohibited due to light pollution issues.

Health and safety is paramount – Dark Sky Project reserves the right to refuse guests should they not be adequately dressed for the conditions.

Changes to bookings
To cancel or amend an existing booking, please contact us on (03) 680 6960 or [email protected] with your booking reference, full name and change request. Please allow up to 48 hours for a response.

Third party bookings

Please note: If you have booked through a booking agent or third party, please contact them for their cancellation terms and conditions as they may differ to the below and any refunds will need to be processed through them.

Cancellations by guests
You may cancel up to 24 hours before the experience departure time and receive a full refund to the credit card used to confirm the booking. If you cancel within 24 hours of the experience departure time you are not entitled to any refund.

Please note that for group reservations of 10 or more guests, no refunds will be given within 7 days of the date of the experience.

Partial and full refunds
Any refund will be made to the same credit card that was used to confirm the booking. If you have booked through a third party or booking agent, refunds will be processed through them.

Payment Terms
The name of the business that will appear on your bank/credit card statements will be Earth and Sky Limited Partnership. Your account will be charged in New Zealand Dollars. Confirmation of direct bookings will be only confirmed when full payment has been received.

Please contact us on (03) 680 6960, or [email protected]

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if I need help with my tour booking?

If you need help with an existing booking please email us at [email protected], if your enquiry is urgent please follow up your email with a quick call on +61 2 5633 1149 so we can help you.

Do you offer payment plans?

Absolutely, we understand that paying off a big trip in one go isn’t always that easy. We offer flexible payment plans to suit all types of travellers with zero interest or fee’s (minimum $100AUD deposit required).

Do I need travel insurance?

We endorse the recommendation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that all travelers take out travel insurance. If you already have Travel Insurance please understand that it is your responsibility to ensure that your Travel Insurance covers you for all of the adventure style travel you have booked with us.

World Nomads travel insurance policies offer coverage for more than 150 activities. Get a quote, make a claim, or buy or extend your policy while on the road.

Can I book a package but travel in the reverse direction?

Absolutely, just let us know your preferred start and finish location and we’ll make it work.

What is the best way to travel Australia?

There is definitely no wrong way. We recommend either taking a WHIMIT or Hop on Hop off bus pass such as Greyhound or renting a campervan with some mates and hitting the open road. If you feel like getting pretty adventurous and want to get amongst the true Australian terrain, a 4WD may be better suited for you. Enquire now and we can help you find the most suitable transport option.

What if something comes up and I can't make my tour?

We get it. Life is all about the unexpected, especially when you are travelling. If you are unable to make your pre-arranged tour you will need to reach out to our support email so we can give you a helping hand. In all cases we strongly recommend having a valid travel insurance policy which covers you for unexpected cancellations.

Can I add additional tours or make changes to this package?

Yes. All of our packages are customisable so if you would like to make any changes please contact our team.

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Dark Sky Crater Experience

Valid for 12 months

If you're craving some night sky stargazing with no light pollution, this is the tour for you at Cowan's Observatory with Dark Sky Project's Crater Experience.

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