Aotearoa Astrotourism Academy

The next course is now open for registration Dark Sky Project, Lake Tekapo | 26th-28th May 2023

Aotearoa Astrotourism Academy, AAA, was launched by Professor John Hearnshaw with the support of Nalayini Davies, to satisfy an unmet need in the astronomical community.

We are pleased to announce our next course
at the Dark Sky Project
Lake Tekapo, 26th-28th May 2023

An immersive programme of lectures, workshops, demonstrations with small telescopes and cameras, and practical observing will be offered. We expect to visit the Cowan’s Hill observatory near Tekapo for observing and star gazing with telescopes and binoculars.

  • Astrotourism and dark sky places in New Zealand
  • How binoculars and telescopes work and how to use a telescope
  • Our place in the Universe
  • Coordinates and time in astronomy
  • Principal objects to look at for astrotourists
  • The astronomy equipment for you
  • The astronomy equipment for you
  • Astronomy outreach – 20 tips to remember
  • Naming of stars and celestial objects
  • Maori astronomy and Matariki
  • Astrophotography
  • Notes for astro-tour guides
  • The lives of the stars : star formation, evolution and star death
  • Useful books, publications and software for night sky guides
  • Astrophotography
  • How to start an astrotourism business
  • Practical observing with a small telescope
  • Grand astroquiz for all
For those interested in:
  • NZ’s Night Sky & The Universe–what you can see & what lies beyond
  • Astronomy– what objects are observable & how best to observe them
  • Astrophotography today – the products & the practice
  • Astrotourism and/or Outreach – how to conduct these successfully
  • The Dark Sky Movement in NZ – what it is & how you can participate
  • Buying a Telescope or Binoculars – which is best for you & how to use them

AAA is grateful to the Dark Sky Project for sponsorship and providing the venue for this course. We are also grateful to the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve for sponsorship funding.

Our next courses for 2023 are being finalised.
Kapiti Coast to celebrate Matariki, July 21-23, 2023

The second AAA course of 2023 will be at Te Horo on the Kapiti Coast. This will be a special course to celebrate Matariki, and is especially for amateur astronomers or anyone wanting to learn more about navigating the stars in the night sky using a small telescope or binoculars.

Places at the course are limited to 24 – 30 people

The venue will be the Arcus Kiwi Event centre, 29 Arcus Rd, Te Horo (between Otaki and Waikanae) – see

Programme: An immersive programme of lectures, workshops, demonstrations with small telescopes and cameras, and practical observing will be offered. We expect to visit the  private observatory of Nigel Knowles at Te Horo for observing and star gazing.

Times: Friday 2:30 pm to 10:30 pm; Saturday 9:00 am to 10:30 pm; Sunday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Registration fee: $295 (to be confirmed). Registrations not yet open.

More details will be on-line shortly. For enquiries, please contact us.

AAA’s Courses are Designed for Those Interested in:





NZ’s Dark Sky Movement

Astro-tourism participants

Amateur Astronomers


Night Sky Navigators

Lifetime Learners

Nature Lovers

What Attendees Say about AAA’s Courses

2-4 DECEMBER 2022

Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron

Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Home of the America’s Cup is a spacious, multi-functional building at the foot of the Harbour Bridge in Westhaven Marina. 

The RNZYS building has a distinctive nautical appearance where sun-drenched decks and rooms offer superb views over Westhaven Marina, CBD, Waitemata Harbour and the Harbour Bridge.

8-10 JULY 2022

Martinborough Hotel, Martinborough

The Martinborough Hotel offers boutique accommodation located on the doorstep to everything Martinborough and the South Wairarapa has to offer.


Dark Sky Project, 1 Motuariki Lane, Lake Tekapo, South Canterbury 7999

Tekapo is situated in the South Island of New Zealand, within the Aoraki-Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.


Mackenzie Country Hotel, Twizel

The course is designed for current or prospective astrotourism night-sky guides or for anyone interested in navigating the night sky and understanding more about astronomy.