Aoraki Mackenzie Starlight Festival

The Hermitage and Hillary Alpine Centre, Mt Cook, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, New Zealand

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Mt Cook Village?

Mt Cook village is the only small settlement inside the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. It is at the northern end of SH80 and about 40 km (30 min) from the turn-off from SH8 at the southern end of Lake Pukaki. The village is surrounded by spectacular mountain peaks, and lies at the foot of Mt Sefton (3151 m) and there is an amazing view from the Hermitage, the Starlight Festival principal venue, of New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki/Mt Cook (3724 m).

Mt Cook village is 60 km (45 min) from Twizel, the largest town in the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.


How do I get there?

The Cook Connection ( is a bus company based in Twizel that runs daily services between Twizel and Mt Cook village (twice daily), and also between Lake Tekapo and Mt Cook village (once a day). Cook Connect services also link with Atomic Shuttles ( and Newmans Coachlines/Intercity (, which run between Christchurch and Queenstown. Passengers need to change in Twizel to travel on to Mt Cook. Details of timetables and fares are on the Cook Connection website (

Many people will drive to Mt Cook from Christchurch (329 km; 4h 9m) or from Queenstown (258 km; 3h 08m) or from Timaru (197 km; 2h 20m).

Mt Cook has an airport, but only charter flights land there.

LakeLand Explorer is offering bus transport from Twizel to Mt Cook on all three festival days and also to Mt John Observatory, Tekapo on 15 October. Please call or email Jill for making a reservation.
The timetable and prices are shown below:

Where will the Starlight Festival events take place?

The main Festival venue will be the Hermitage Hotel in Mt Cook village. Other locations include Mt John University Observatory, Tekapo (Sunday afternoon) and The BigSky Stargazing Observatory at Mt Cook airport (5.7 km from the Hermitage; 7 min).

Where can I stay?

There are numerous accommodation providers in or near Mt Cook village, and even more in Twizel, just 45 minutes from Mt Cook village. The accommodation available ranges from four star hotels or luxury lodges, to backpacker accommodation and campsites. See the Accommodation tab on this website for a list.

What is happening during the festival?

The Aoraki Mackenzie Starlight Festival comprises of separate events including stargazing, lectures by keynote speakers, workshops and exhibitions.

Some of the events will be free entry and others have a nominal charge.

Tickets. Where can I buy them?

Some of the events will be free entry and others have a nominal charge. Tickets will go on sale through Eventfinda in July 2017 on this Festival website.

There will also be door sales during the venue, provided there are seats or space available.

Who is the Starlight Festival for?

The Starlight Festival is for everyone, especially families with school-age kids, for people of all ages interested in the night sky and the stars, for those who just want to admire the beauty of a pristine star-studded sky, for amateur astronomers, and for international tourists, many of whom come to the Mackenzie to see the stars.

Mt Cook by Fraser Gunn



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