Media Release – 24 August 2018 10:00

New night tours launched at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Takapō

The Church of the Good Shepherd and Earth & Sky have partnered together to launch a night-time experience at the famous Takapō (Lake Tekapo) heritage site.

Church Reverend, Andrew McDonald, says the guided tours are the church’s answer to sharing the stunning night-time views and experience of the grounds with the public, while protecting the natural landscape for future generations. 

The church made the decision to close public access to the grounds at night indefinitely in December 2017, due to on-going destruction of the land by people accessing the grounds unguided. 

“The Church of the Good Shepherd is famous for its astro-photography and star-gazing, where on a clear night the Milky Way galaxy displays an extraordinary backdrop to the little stone church,” says McDonald.

“Unfortunately, open public access was causing a lot of damage to the site at night. The land surrounding the church is a majestic heritage site and we believe in the importance of maintaining it for the future. 

“We knew we wanted to continue to allow access to this beautiful part of Aotearoa, and decided working with a partner who could facilitate and manage tours of the site was the right approach. 

“We are excited to be partnering with Earth & Sky to deliver a serene and educational experience for visitors to this sacred site. We want people to have the opportunity to enjoy this experience, but we also need to ensure we are protecting and maintaining it.”

The Church Night Tour will take visitors on a journey of exploration, revelation and serenity, with naked-eye stargazing, storytelling, astro-photography and an opportunity for reflection. A professional astro-photographer will also help visitors as they take photos around the church.

Earth & Sky guides will deliver the Church of the Good Shepherd tours. Earth & Sky deliver stargazing and observatory tours in Takapō. In 2014, they entered into a partnership with Ngāi Tahu Tourism, a business owned by Ngāi Tahu who have an intimate and long history in Takapō.  

McDonald says Earth & Sky was the preferred partner for this project as it is a whānau-owned business driven by its values and commitment to the long-term intergenerational investment in Aotearoa, particularly in the regions.

Co-owner of Earth & Sky, Graeme Murray, says the aim of the partnership, as well as giving visitors an incredible guided tour, is to have a positive impact on the region and to protect its incredible natural landscapes for generations to come.

“This is a fantastic example of local businesses from within a community coming together and forming a partnership for the greater good.”

Opened in 1935, the Church of the Good Shepherd is the sole church in Takapō and continues to be a place of worship for local residents.

Tours will be piloted for six months starting from the 1st September and will be made a permanent experience if successful. 


For more information, please contact:

Kirsty Phillips
General Manager Marketing, Communications & Customer Experience
Ngāi Tahu Tourism
021 916 050

A World-Class Astronomy Experience

We are thrilled to announce that Earth & Sky is bringing to life a state of the art astronomy experience on the shores of Lake Tekapo. 

Architect rendering of the new astronomy centre.

Brashear Telescope in the Flower Observatory at the University of Pennsylvania.

Located in the heart of the internationally renowned Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, the centre aims to be a key astronomy facility for the region. It will complement our existing observatory and stargazing night tours and will also include food, beverage and retail offerings.  immersive and interactive daytime experience will provide visitors with the opportunity to learn about the illustrious Southern night skies from both a scientific and Māori perspective. 

The indoors attraction will ensure visitors can enjoy an authentic astronomy experience when they come to stay in Tekapo or when passing through the region, regardless of the time of day and weather conditions.  

The building will also showcase one of the world’s most prestigious Victorian telescopes, the Brashear. Originally built in 1894 and standing at eight metres tall, the telescope will be the proud centrepiece in the attraction and have its own observatory dome.

A truly collaborative project, we would like to thank all those involved in bringing this unique experience to life. We would particularly like to acknowledge the efforts of Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua, Te Rūnanga o Waihao, Te Rūnanga o Moeraki, and the University of Canterbury.

Regardless of your passion and appetite for astronomy, this lakefront property in one of Aotearoa’s most stunning locations promises to amaze and will be well worth the stop on your next visit to the region.  

Project dates: 

February 2018 Site whakawātea (blessing)
March 2018 Works commenced
April 2019 Expected opening 

Project partners:

Construction partners: Cook Brothers Construction 

Experience design partners: ThoughtFull Design

Enquiries about the project? 

Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Nā te pō, ko te ao, ko te ao mārama

From the darkest depths of the night we become enlightened