Photo Friday: Searching for Dark Sky at Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

by Chris on July 6, 2012

Photo Friday: Lake Tekapo, where we failed to find the famous dark sky, but enjoyed lovely scenery nonetheless.

This is the latest in a series of  travel photos inspired by #FriFotos on Twitter.

View of Lake Tekapo, New Zealand, from shore

This week’s Photo Friday theme is STARS. Sounds great, you might be saying. So why aren’t we seeing a gorgeous photo of a nighttime starry sky?

Let me explain.

When Don and I set out on our New Zealand campervan roadtrip, I plotted out the stops very carefully, as we had limited time and so many potential places to go. I had read that Lake Tekapo, on the South Island, was not merely the home to one of the country’s most aquamarine lakes. It was also home to Mt. John Observatory and one of the premier “dark sky” preserves in the world. If you’re into star-gazing, this is the place to go. I decided that would be the first stop of our trip.

Through a company known as Earth & Sky, you can take night skygazing tours that also take you behind the scenes at the  Observatory.  I was keen to do so, even though the tours cost a hefty $105 per person (I wanted to see if the experience was worth it, plus I had a coupon).

Alas, it was not to be. It started raining even before we picked up our campervan from the Maui Car rental in Christchurch. And the bad weather continued, as we picked up provisions and became oriented to left-side-of-the-road driving.

By the time we covered the mileage to Lake Tekapo (just a few hours), the rain had stopped. As you can see from the photo above, however, the skies were way too cloudy to consider star gazing that night. At first, I was disappointed. I had traveled all the way to New Zealand, investing hours in itinerary planning. How dare the weather not cooperate!

Then I started settling into the rhythms of the campervan. We took out our provisions, and made a picnic, enjoying the view of the lake (which was still pretty damn blue, even if it wasn’t sunny). It was the first night after an intense conference, and we could feel ourselves start to relax. The vacation was beginning to take its own path. We had no choice but to submit. And that’s the way the best trips unfold.  (It would end up being our favorite trip of 2011, and perhaps ever).

But sometime, I am going to get to a dark sky preserve. Karma owes me one.

| Chris Gray Faust is a veteran journalist, travel expert, social media butterfly - and editrix of this site. Like what you read? Check out her writing, editing and social media services.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Laura @Travelocafe July 25, 2012 at 11:55 am

We are currently at lake Suljan in Sweden and we have plenty of dark sky.

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