Carter Observatory

Look at the rings of Saturn, touch rocks that have fallen from space and go on a virtual journey to the farthest regions of our solar system.

Carter Observatory has some of the country’s oldest telescopes, a digital planetarium, astronomical artifacts and interactive exhibitions. This collections weaves together Māori, Polynesian and Western astronomy.

Enter the first gallery to watch multimedia displays about the origins of the universe and the possibility of life on other planets. Hear about the traditions and myths of the Māori story of creation.

Step inside the Solar System gallery and touch and play with the digital orrery, an interactive model of our sun and the planets that orbit it. Pick up and handle the Gibeon meteorite, a 15-pound (7-kilogram) lump of iron and nickel that fell on Namibia in prehistoric times. You can also touch a large stony meteorite that was found in China.

Lie back on a reclining seat in the digital planetarium and go flying through the stars. Different shows, including one for preschoolers, are run throughout the day. Each show focuses on different aspects of space exploration. Stay in your seat after the show for the live presentation during which one of Carter’s astronomers discusses the night sky during the time of your visit. Check out the observatory’s website for show details and programing schedule.

Look out into space through the powerful Thomas Cooke telescope. Public telescope viewings are held on the observatory’s late-night openings and are included with the general admission price. Depending on the weather conditions and where the planets are aligned you may be able to see Saturn, Jupiter and Mars.

Situated in Wellington Botanic Garden, the Carter Observatory is a two-minute walk from the top of the Wellington Cable Car, in the neighborhood of Kelburn. The bus stop in nearby Upland Road is served by several routes and there is a paid car park close to the Cable Car.

The Carter Observatory is open every day except Christmas Day and December 26.