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In Tekapo and Aoraki there are tons of activities and attractions to indulge in like 4WD and kayaking tours, skiing, horse trekking, flightseeing, alpine guides, planetarium theatres and star gazing tours with observatories and high powered telescopes.
All of which sounds fabulous, but at a cost which doesn’t always agree with a traveller's budget. But thanks to the Vroomvroomvroom team, experiencing New Zealand doesn’t have to cost you the world, because not only do we find you the cheapest car rental deals to help you get around, we also find you the cheapest attraction/ experiences for you to enjoy without breaking the bank.
So once you’ve scored that great cheap car rental deal, be sure to turn off that GPS and allow the stars to guide you through the largest ‘International Dark Sky Reserve of 4,300 km²’ in the world, to Lake Tekapo (1hr 30min drive on SH8 from Timaru) and Aoraki Mt Cook Village (1hr 15min drive from Lake Tekapo, SH8, SH80 Mt Cook Road) to enjoy these great value for money experiences…
Here you must take advantage of Tekapo Starlight: a 1hr 30min naked-eye tour of the beautiful Mackenzie high country night sky with a professional astronomy guide that charges an affordable price of $20 per adult, $10 per teen, $5 per child and free for under 6-year-olds. However, if this cheap tour is still beyond your budget, try this highly recommended walk and location for your very own personal experience with the stars.
Pines Beach walk- From Cowans Hill lookout car park to the Church of the Good Shepherd, it is an easy walk through some forest terrain, across Lilybank Rd to the lake shore where you can choose from two options to base your star gazing destination… left to the Church of the Good Shepherd or right to Pines Beach.
Astro Café atop Mt John is “possibly the best place on the planet to drink a coffee” (Lonely Planet review) and is a must visit for its spectacular 360⁰ panoramic views. Open from 10am-5pm, drive your car along SH8, turn off on Godley Peaks Rd and follow till you come to a turn off on your right which will lead you to this great location and service. Otherwise cruise your car hire to the end of Lakeside Drive to access the the Mt John Summit walkway that will get you to the same destination, but at a slower rate of about 2hr 30mins through larch forestry, open tussock grasslands and if you’re lucky the odd sighting of the Himalayan chukor bird and geckos.
Aoraki/Mt Cook Village
1hr 15min drive from Tekapo, follow SH8 and turn off on SH80 on Mt Cook Rd to trace the shore of Lake Pukaki and choose any location along this road to park your awesome rental car to view the spectacular sights of the stars in light pollution free skies. (Note: the closer you are to the village the narrower your views will become because of the mountains.)
Freedom campers should check out the Lake Pukaki site (The Pines) on Hayman Rd. Although there are no facilities available, it’s free and you will be treated with breathtaking sunrise and sunset views.