In the second of our On the Road series, the Ticker‘s Bridget O’Connell visits a soon-to-open stargazing venture: Tekapo Springs
My second stop in Tekapo is a fleeting visit to Tekapo Springs to see owner and general manager Karl Burtscher who is working full throttle ahead of the launch of a new stargazing venture.
Catching him just ten minutes before he was jumping on a pre-arranged Skype call with his board allowed just enough time for a quick tour of the existing hot pools, treatment rooms and water slide-come-ice-rink with a side of tubing.
I also got a quick-step guide through of the set-up of the upcoming celestial experience. From a vantage point overlooking the lake and under the vast Mackenzie sky, visitors will hear of the cultural and spiritual significance of the solar system. What it means to Europeans, Maori and our close Pacific neighbours in a 40-minute guided night sky tour with trained astronomy and astrological guides.
In poorer weather, the experience will move indoors and be video and audio based using a high definition projector adding footage from Nasa and more to the mix. Either way, it will be followed up by 40 minutes in the hot pools augmented by music and mood lighting to round off the experience.
A peek in one room reveals one of three telescopes purchased for the tours which launch Friday-week. Ahead of opening, Karl is training staff, trialling the product on locals, which means pulling long days and late nights until 3am in morning.
Despite this, the industrious entrepreneur hints at other potential developments at what is already an all-year-round attraction.
And then he was off leaving me to continue on my drive north. Not before a quick stop at the Church of the Good Shepherd which was as usual surrounded by visitors posing for selfies or trying to get the perfect panorama.
The steps of the famous stone chapel were occupied by a bride and groom of Asian descent and an entourage striving for photographic perfection.
Not too difficult a task on a warm sunny evening in late summer in this part of the world.