Tag Archives: mt john observatory

UC flies high in stellar new partnership with China Southern Airlines

Signing of an agreement announcing China Southern Airlines as an official partner of the iconic University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory. Left-to-right: Mackenzie District Council Mayor Graham Smith, UC Pro-Vice-Chancellor College of Science Wendy Lawson, China Southern Airlines Australasian Managing Director Louis Lu, Christchurch Airport Chief Executive Officer Malcolm Johns. Photo credit: Matt Searles

Asia’s largest airline has joined the University of Canterbury (UC) in a new partnership which will benefit Tekapo and the Mackenzie District.

Christchurch Airport today hosted a delegation from China Southern Airlines, representatives of the University of Canterbury, Mackenzie District Mayor Graham Smith, and local Tekapo residents on the summit of Mt John.

The event centred on the signing of an agreement announcing China Southern Airlines as an official partner of the iconic University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory. The University Observatory is New Zealand’s pre-eminent optical research observatory and sits at the heart of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.

This partnership also supports tourism in Tekapo, with ten per cent of the agreement’s funding provided to the Mackenzie District Council for tourism infrastructure in Tekapo.

Mackenzie District Council Mayor Graham Smith welcomed the partnership.

“China Southern Airlines is showing a real commitment in this partnership to enhance the visitor experience at Tekapo.”

UC Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr says he hopes the partnership with China Southern Airlines is a sign of strong ties between the two countries.

“China is the largest and fastest growing international market for student recruitment at UC, so strengthening relationships with key organisations there will support that growth and provide students with employment opportunities.”

Christchurch Airport Chief Executive Malcolm Johns says the sponsorship demonstrates the warm relationship between Asia’s largest airline and the South Island.

“China Southern Airlines showed confidence in starting its direct services to Christchurch. It saw such great uptake in the first year, the airline increased the number of flights and has quickly shown its willingness to be right alongside the South Island. This sponsorship is a direct show of support for an area Chinese visitors love to visit.”

China Southern Airlines Australasian Managing Director Louis Lu says the airline is delighted to sponsor the Mt John Observatory.

“This is a great opportunity to support the University of Canterbury and Mt John Observatory. We all share an interest in discovering more about the amazing space that is the sky. China Southern explores it from an aviation perspective, the team at UC and the observatory research its secrets and showcase the amazing stargazing opportunities it offers. This is a meaningful partnership which benefits both the tourism and the scientific worlds.”

The University’s observatory has world-class facilities which enable UC staff and students to carry out cutting-edge astronomical research in a number of different areas, including the search for extra-solar planets, the tracking of near-earth objects and the study of pulsating, variable and exploding stars.

Public access to the observatory is through its partnership with local astro-tourism operator Earth & Sky Ltd, which manages the private road to the facilities and the café, and runs night-time viewing of the stars through the high-powered telescopes at the University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory.

Mt John Observatory – Weekend with the stars

As staff of UC you are also considered part of the UC Alumni Community. We would like to invite you to attend our alumni weekend trip to Mt John on Saturday 29 – Sunday 30 April 2017.

An example of the weekend programme can be seen below, please note that places are limited and this event usually books out within a week.

Mount John Observatory, Alumni Trip April
Mount John Observatory

The afternoon starts at 12.45pm Saturday, with a daytime tour of the facilities followed by afternoon tea at the Observatory. We then head down the mountain for some presentations on Astronomy, and dinner.

The buffet dinner will be held after the presentation, we then return to the Observatory where you will be given the opportunity to view the night sky through one of the telescopes (please note that star viewings are weather dependent*).

On Sunday morning we will be joined by Graeme Murray for a geography/nature walk around the Mt John Summit Track, this is  a great way to learn the history of the area. This is the end of our weekend’s activities.

Cost: $115 per person Register here

Please note:
1. Travel: You will need to organise your own travel to and from Tekapo.
2. Accommodation: Accommodation is not included in the price of this tour. Check out the accommodation providers on the Tekapo Tourism site.
3.*Weather conditions: While this is the optimum time of year to visit, the visibility of the stars is still dependent on weather. In the event of cloudy weather, we have an inside lecture after dinner instead. (This happens around once in every three trips. Please note that we cannot refund the payment as it goes towards dinner and the upkeep of Mt John/use of facilities).
4.Group numbers: Due to space constraints of the telescopes and the observatory facilities, and to ensure everyone enjoys a quality experience, the maximum number for this event is 50 people. Registration will close when we reach the allotted number, and you may only register for yourself and one guest.
5. Age of attendees: The recommended minimum age for attendees is 16 years.

Any questions, please email samantha.boon@canterbury.ac.nz

Visiting Mt John over Summer?

If you are heading down South over the holiday season, be sure to take your UC staff ID, so you can use it for free access on the toll road to Mt John.

Mt John Observatory at the northern end of the Mackenzie Basin, near Lake Tekapo, is New Zealand’s premier astronomical research observatory.

Check out the stunning views from Mt John: www.phys.canterbury.ac.nz/research/mt_john/index.shtml 

UC exempt from Mt John road user fee

A user fee has been introduced for users of the access road to the top of Mt John, from 30 November.

The local astro-tourism operator, Earth & Sky Ltd, which also runs the Astro Café on Mt John’s summit, is managing the daily road access. UC supports this endeavour to raise money for the betterment of the private road, to preserve the unique qualities of the Mt John area and to maintain future access to the summit.

All University of Canterbury staff and students can gain free access to the road by showing their Canterbury Card. This is the only photo ID accepted at the gate.

Currently narrow and steep, the private road was built in the 1960s to provide working access to the University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory but has become popular with local and international visitors, especially since the opening of the Astro Café on the summit and the development of the DOC walking track around the hill.

There have been more than a million visitors to the top of Mt John in the last decade. The income from the road user fee will ensure that the increasing numbers of visitors to the top of Mt John can pass safely and enjoy their visit to the unique environment.