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Celestial beauty illuminates successful business

As darkness descends on the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, cameras work overtime capturing magnificent celestial images in high definition.

Within seconds, images of our southern skies are beamed across the globe, finding themselves shared, tagged, and linked to social media.

Tekapo Star Gazing’s high-speed internet connection is a vital part of this instant marketing concept. The company, located at the base of Mt John, overlooking Lake Tekapo, has been offering guided stargazing and hot pool tours for two years.

The unique tour begins with a presentation by a star-gazing guide who discusses the night sky and Maori myths and legends. Visitors view the night sky through high-powered telescopes and then relax in a 37.5-degree hot pool, while guides sit poolside to answer any questions they have about the cosmos.

Tekapo Star Gazing sales and marketing executive Amy Menard says visitors regularly tell them it’s a must-do attraction when visiting New Zealand, and they return home to spread the word globally.

“The entire Mackenzie Basin is an international dark sky reserve, and it’s one of the largest in the world,” she says.

“Astro-tourism has always been something people do in New Zealand, but it’s gathering momentum now, especially with the advent of astrophotography, people are coming here to get that amazing shot of the night sky.”

While the business continues to advertise through traditional channels, such as print and billboards, they also have listings on Tourism New Zealand’s website, along with strong Facebook and Instagram followings, and a website that allows customers to book instantly online.

Tekapo Star Gazing also has a virtual reality component for the inside tour which involves downloading apps onto a headset where people can create their own journey through the universe.

With the popularity of astrophotography continuing to increase at lightning speed around the world, Tekapo Star Gazing are always on the look-out for the perfect shot.

They encourage the use of their hashtag, and when budding photographers link them to their posts, they credit the artist for the work and share to their own fanbase. This ensures maximum coverage, raises brand awareness and reaches potential travellers from across the globe.

“The shots that do the best are those classic night-time shots,” says Amy. “The Milky Way going across the sky, and also shots of our hot pools with the lake and the mountain as the backdrop; those are the ones people love the most.”

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