Tekapo, Dark Skies and the rarest bird in the World.

Lake Tekapo (and the town by the same name) lies in the rain-shadow of the central mountains and is parched and somewhat featureless in the Summer. However, Mount Cook is a short drive away and the sky at night is the clearest you will see anywhere.

I had not known it but there are in fact more stars to see from the bottom of the planet as you face towards the Galactic Center. Also, the Magellanic Clouds are visible with the naked eye - the only nebulas to be visible anywhere; stunning through binoculars.

If you want this type of shot -

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The Milky Way and Magellanic Nebulas.
then I STRONGLY recommend a Mt John Star-tracking Photography tour. I just used my f5.6 kit lens at 18mm - however a 100mm f2.8 macro would be worth taking - for closeups of the nebulas. (My 100-400mm lens was too heavy for the tracker).

The iconic church makes a lovely foreground for nightscape shots - but don`t expect to be alone!
(Note the dust-cloud above the bell-tower).

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Church of the Good Shepherd with Milky Way.
Mount Cook is an hour away by car and worth a look; allow two days to fully explore the valleys. I suspect a better time would be the Spring for the flowers.

IMG_0429 Mt Cook

And finally - the rarest bird in the World? This is what they claim for the Black Stilt. There is only ONE place to see them and the hides have been wrecked by storms....
However, a local tipped us off that one lake edge night just be lucky - so more dusty gravel roads and lengthy viewing through binoculars - and THERE`S ONE! I took loads of shots from a distance until I realized the bird was completely oblivious to me! (I should have learned that by now)! He actually walked too close towards me....

Bless him....

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Black Stilt.

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