Mount John University Observatory

Mount John University Observatory

Mount John University Observatory
4.5
Observation Decks & TowersScenic Walking Areas
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Top ways to experience Mount John University Observatory and nearby attractions

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
726 reviews
Excellent
483
Very good
171
Average
44
Poor
14
Terrible
14

Hannah B
Cheltenham, UK37 contributions
Jan 2020 • Couples
We trekked up from Tekapo Springs, which took about 45 mins. There is a limited cafe at the top and some good views. It would be good to make more of a visitor attraction of the observatory, with displays saying what they do there. I would have been very disappointed if we’d paid $8 to drive up there, given there are lots of beautiful viewpoints in the area for free.
Written January 27, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Travelove58
11,313 contributions
Feb 2020 • Family
NZ is a beautiful country with many awesome mountains & beautiful landscapes.

As a first time visitor, driving up the many different, long, narrow & high mountains roads can be very intimidating and even scary.

Problem is we do not know what to expect. Every mountain route is different, you only find out when you get there.

This place is definitely top of our list of the most dangerous & scary mountain route.

It's a ONE LANE very long steep road up to the top( someone mentioned it was about 4km). At one point, it was like 45°steep up. Can't imagine if your car is underpowered & cannot climb. Let go pedal & your car just plunge downwards. We had a 2000cc car with 4 adults & luggages. And we had to revving engine heavily to get up at this very steep point. And you cannot change your mind & reverse back!

If a car comes from the opposite site, one has to stop for the other to squeeze through. The road is barely wide enough to do this. If u are on the outer side facing the cliff edge, one mistake & your car plunge down the mountain. Or if your brake fails while going downhill all the way.

The locals are very used to this & probably won't feel intimidated. We had 2 different drivers going up & down. And we both felt the same.

We have seen many more amazing views from other mountains tops here in NZ.

Frankly, the view here ( though nice ) is not among the better ones.

Written February 25, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Louise O
Balclutha, New Zealand101 contributions
Apr 2021 • Family
At $185 an adult and $85 a child for an hr and a half with a hot chocolate we were quite disappointed. The staff were very passionate about their subject and gladly answered questions. Overseas tourists could probably afford this but it wasnt value for money for our eyes
Written April 29, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Julie P
United Kingdom1,780 contributions
Nov 2019
We didn't actually visit the observatory, but the road up to the observatory is a good view point for seeing Lake Tekapo and the mountains. There's supposed to be a charge but no-one was taking money so everyone drove up anyway. A couple of stops and pull outs along the way as the road is twisty and narrow. At the top there's a reasonable amount of parking then a short walk to the top, where the view are 360. Toilets and a small cafe serves snacks and drinks. It can be very cold and windy even on a sunny day.
Written January 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Chris A
Hampshire, UK13 contributions
Feb 2020
I could have booked this spectacular opportunity to view the night sky at 185NZD per person. Helping people to understand the constellations of the night sky should be their priority, not ripping tourists off. Sadly, I couldn't afford the cost,so I declined the place.
Written March 27, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Hila
Tauranga, New Zealand60 contributions
Jun 2022 • Couples
Beautiful view, don’t know why they charge you $8 though? They only except cards, no cash. You can walk up from Lake Tekapo if you are fit enough or go on a Dark Sky tour. You walk around a few minutes and take pictures, there is a cafe there and toilets. It is a nice view but in NZ we are blessed with many beautiful walks with no charge.
Written June 10, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

MarkDeb83
Oakville, Canada70 contributions
Oct 2019
We were lucky enough to go on one of the late evening tours. Our guides picked us up from our hotel. We did the tour which was very interesting and educational for us. At the end of the tour were received hot chocolate. Which helped to warm us up. They then took us back for our hotel. If you have never been on one of those evening tour we would recommend that you do not miss it.
Written August 11, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

VonBadger
Germany96 contributions
Feb 2020 • Couples
You can park at Tekapo Springs and take the “one hour“ walk up to the top. 300m climb and the middle bit is a bit steep but in the shady forest and no problem. The view around the cafe at the top is absolutely amazing. 360° of wonderful scenery that you don’t know is there until you get to the top. The other big plus is that buses can‘t get up the road, so it is relatively empty. One of the highlights of our our 4 week NZ trip
Written February 29, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

nz_travels_a_lot_08
Christchurch, New Zealand146 contributions
Dec 2021
Great views from the summit. Didn't go on one of the Dark Sky Experiences, but will try one of those at some point. My trip this time was to try out the cafe and take in the view while having lunch.

The cafe only had cake and sweet muffins. There wasn't anything I would really describe as lunch food. I don't know if it is like that all the time but there wasn't a menu with other food items on it so I suspect it might just be cakes in a cabinet - but I could be wrong.

The cake I had was very nice, but not what I was really wanting to eat in a cafe at lunchtime.

There's an $8 road toll to access the summit.

Even though I will be driving past frequently, without any real food up there I don't think I'd make the trip again just to go to the cafe. If there was something a bit more substantial (even something simple as the cooking space looks limited) like soup of the day with a roll, some homemade pies or toasted sandwiches, it would be a great stop to have lunch when passing through.

Definitely worth a trip if you've not been up there before though. Maybe head up for morning or afternoon tea and sample the very nice cakes.
Written January 24, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Brigette
210 contributions
Dec 2023 • Family
Mt John is a little hill just outside Lake Tekapo and it gives a fantastic Birds Eye view of the entire Lake area as far as Mt Cook on a sunny day. The internet says it closes at 5pm in summer but when we drove to the gate it’s actually 4pm. We only had 30min but went up anyway. $10 NZD (card only) for car access to the top. Ample carpark, narrow road but plenty of shoulders for you to let the traffic passes you so not scary at all. Breathtaking view , wished we had more time. The nighttime star gazing tour was booked out, do book ahead !
Written December 23, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Mount John University Observatory - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

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Very Good Reviews

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