This weekends adventure involved heading up to the beautiful Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park for some camping, hiking and making the most of the 2nd best dark sky reserve in the world. With a good weather forecast for the weekend I couldn’t wait to get up there!
We were staying at Lake Tekapo for the evening, camping at a holiday park on the lake front. It was quite a nice place, however I would not recommend tenting in the powered site section… We were blinded by a bright light right next to our pitch and after complaining about it to the site manager and being given no solution, we ended up moving our camp at about 11pm (Not ideal!).
Relaxing after setting up camp with a view of the lake 🙂
Waking up, opened up the tent and got greeted by some ducks…
After we got set up at the camp, we decided to go for a walk along the lake, this soon morphed into a hike up a steep random precipice that Ben discovered… But the views were stunning.
Ben the mountain man
Tekapo village from our newly discovered vantage point
New vantage point conquered…
Part of the Star Light Festival going on in the area was a ‘Star Party’ being held 5 minutes out of town. We signed up and headed up to the Earth & Sky office for 9pm. After a short bus journey we found ourselves up on a hill at the Conway Observatory, with a bunch of strangers and a group of amazing astronomers. The set up was stellar (no pun intended), there was a large telescope in the observatory focused on Saturn, along with a number of other smaller telescopes (which were still huge!) focused on different features such as star clusters, nebulas and galaxies. They also had an astrophotographer taking pictures of people with the stars as a backdrop, and 2 craters which were especially dark and we ended up spending most of our time there attempting some of our own astrophotography.
My best attempt with my little point and shoot and no tripod! Its not amazing, but there is a hint of milky way there…
All in all, it was a very interesting and unexpected evening and the sky was so stunning! I enjoy stargazing so much and it was lovely to be able to enjoy the sky with no light pollution and learn more about space and the stars.