Founder and guide of Gisborne Astro Tours, John Drummond is one of New Zealand’s top amateur astronomers and astrophotographers. John recently served as President of the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand and was the director of their astrophotography section for thirteen years. His photos have been published in books and magazines around the world – and even appeared on two New Zealand stamps! John holds a Master of Science (Astronomy) from Swinburne University. He has helped discover ~20 exoplanets. John is a sought-after astronomy speaker and qualified teacher.
Established in 2019, Gisborne Astro Tours delivers a wealth of knowledge, passion and friendly kiwi-hospitality and is now a must-do experience in Tairāwhiti.
With a custom-built roll-off roof observatory and outdoor stargazing platform and private lecture room on-site, Gisborne Astro Tours takes you on an unforgettable journey from the rural East Coast to the stars. Our facilities provide you with a comfortable and memorable stargazing experience under New Zealand’s southern skies.
Our main telescope is a 50cm (20″) f2.9 GoTo Newtonian Reflector. This follows the stars as you look at them, making sure they don’t drift out of the field of view. This telescope is a real ‘light bucket’ and allows us to see many faint galaxies, nebulae and other targets that smaller telescopes would struggle to see.
We also work with a smaller 41cm (16″) Newtonian ensuring our visitors get loads of telescope time.
In addition, Gisborne Astro Tours is situated under a dark, rural sky (SQM ave 21.5) and permits beautiful views of astronomical targets.
The sky at Patutahi is comparable to Tekapo in that it regularly has skies nearly as dark as Mount John Observatory (Earth and Sky) in the South Island. Readings from an approved Sky Quality Light Meter shows that Patutahi regularly has readings of 21.50 – 21.60 (without Moon interference) whereas Mount John is about 21.60 – 21.70.