When native Maori arrived in New Zealand from islands in French Polynesia, they used the stars to find their way across the vast Pacific. Today, nearly 1,000 years after those Polynesian explorers landed on Auckland’s shores, it’s still possible to study the stars that circle the Auckland sky. When visiting the Stardome and Auckland Observatory, visitors can explore the depths of the Universe from black holes and comets, to astronauts and planets. Find out how much you’d really weigh if you stepped on another planet, and peer through a high-powered telescope to see the rings of Saturn. Even if it’s a cloudy night, recline in a comfortable Planetarium chair to watch digital projections on a domed screen of the heavens’ greatest shows. At the Magic Planet, watch as a video globe changes from Earth to the rocky surface of the moon, and there are even samples of meteorites and the red surface of Mars.
The Stardome and Auckland Observatory are located in Cornwall Park near One Tree Hill about 15 minutes from downtown. The observatory is open from 10am-5pm, Monday-Friday, and from 11am-11:00pm on weekends. During the week, evening hours are from 6-9:30pm on Tuesday-Thursday, and 6:00pm on Friday. For planetarium shows, weekends offer seven shows beginning at 1pm. Other planetarium shows include Tuesday at 8pm, Wednesday and Thursday at 7pm and 8pm, and Friday at 7pm, 8pm, and 9:30pm. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for children, and $25 for special Tuesday shows.