We created the Pukaki Wine Cellar and Observatory to share the beauty of the Dark Sky Reserve with our guests through small, private gatherings in a comfortable, intimate setting. Billion Star Dining starts with a 4 course, seasonal tasting menu at Moraine Lodge followed by a stargazing experience at Pukaki Wine Cellar and Observatory for groups of 2 – 12 guests.
MORAINE LODGE DINING. This unique experience, begins with a trust the chef style dinner at Moraine Lodge, a special event for people who love fresh and innovative cuisine. Dinner is followed by a fun and informative stargazing experience in the Pukaki Wine Cellar and Observatory.
PUKAKI WINE CELLAR AND OBSERVATORY. The purpose-built wine cellar and observatory began from the concept of an underground space. Its thick concrete walls maintain the cool temperature needed to cellar our wines, and the sitting area allows us to share drinks and nibbles with guests while we introduce the Southern sky and the spectacular stargazing experience to come.
The observatory itself features a retractable roof and 6-inch refractor telescope. When the roof recedes, the observatory walls frame a breathtaking window to the stars. Our telescope is capable of sighting the rings of Saturn and bands of Jupiter, as well as sparkling star clusters, nebula and planets. The telescope can also be used for astrophotography, for guests with an interest in night sky photography.
The Retreat’s setting in the heart of the Dark Sky Reserve makes it an ideal location for astrophotography. Set up your camera under some of the clearest, darkest skies in the world, and be mesmerized by stars like many have never seen. On special nights you may also get a glimpse of the Southern Lights, or Aurora Australis.
As part of our guided stargazing experience, we are able to help you learn basic techniques for how to take your own night sky images. Or, if you prefer, simply relax and enjoy stargazing, and we will take a photograph for you. This one-of-a-kind image of your party under the beautiful New Zealand night sky is the perfect keepsake to remember your journey.
We also offer deep space astrophotography using our observatory telescope. From the very first image we shot through the telescope of the Orion Nebula, we were in awe of the beauty of this colourful object sitting quietly in the Orion Constellation 1,344 light years away. Deep space astrophotography is a unique experience, a rare opportunity to venture into the past using a simple DSLR camera. Join us in the observatory and we will show you how to photograph nebula, star clusters and planets.
THE NITTY GRITTY.
Transport to the Retreat can be arranged upon request.
Minimum charge – 2 people. Stargazing is weather dependent, if the conditions aren’t suitable there is an alternative option for a reduced rate that can be offered if you would still like to experience the Pukaki Wine Cellar and Observatory and learn about the dark sky. Alternatively, the night will proceed with dinner at $145.
Onsite accommodation is available in conjunction with this event – contact us for more details. Cash/eftpos bar available.