Queenstown visitors will soon be able to shoot for the stars.
Locally-based Skyline Enterprises is launching star-gazing tours from next week till November.
An experienced astronomer will take visitors to a specially-constructed area above the gondola-accessed Skyline Restaurant complex.
Skyline is promising there’ll be no distracting lights to block clear views of a hidden world, which is not possible from many other locations.
Two portable high-powered $6500 Celestron telescopes, brought in from the United States, will automatically track points of interest.
Star-gazers can feast their eyes on everything from the Southern Cross and Milky Way to nebula and other planets and galaxies.
“We’re thrilled to be able to offer people the chance to enjoy one of the most beautiful night skies in the world, providing an alternative night-time activity to Queenstown’s bustling bar and nightlife scene,” Skyline general manager Lyndon Thomas says.
“Nightlife in Queenstown may be found in the skies above us, not just in bars and restaurants. The view from Skyline is out of this world and this is an opportunity to explore the night sky from a unique position.”
Stars aren’t easily viewable from major cities because the skies aren’t clear and unpolluted, Thomas says.
Keen star-gazers often face a long drive to out-of-the-way observatories, he adds.
Skyline Star Gazing tours will be led by Matt Hall, who has more than four years’ experience as an astronomy guide at Mt John Observatory at Lake Tekapo.
“The centre of our galaxy sits right above us in the winter months,” Hall says.
“There’s simply so much on show for us and we’re able to actually look into the past, something which blows most people’s minds.”
Hall says the tours will be tailored to meet the needs of each individual group, from first-time star-gazers to the more experienced.
Clients will be provided with high-quality goose-down jackets to keep warm.
Tours will run from Wednesdays till Sundays from next week to mid-November.
They’ll operate from 6.30pm to 7.45pm and 8pm to 9.15pm – a third tour from 9.30pm to 10.45pm will run if the second is full.
Gondola-inclusive prices start from $69 for adults and $39 for children.