If you are looking for ideas for a budget weekend in Auckland with the family and have never been to a planetarium, then you’re in for a treat. Stardome Planetarium and Observatory.

Tackling a weekend city break with two teenagers while on a budget? You will need to be resourceful.

Where Can I Take 3 Kids for a Budget Weekend in Auckland?

Stardome Planetarium fits the bill perfectly. You will find this planetarium located inside the stunning One Tree Hill Domain in Auckland. On the night that we visited we were lucky enough to have beautiful clear skies. All teenagers seem to be fascinated by anything astronomical and mine are no exception, so when they found out that we would be visiting Stardome they were more than happy, to say the least.

Walking into the dome-shaped building is like entering an intergalactic space centre. Once inside, you will find an array of interactive astronomical displays and games, including a gravity machine, large lego structures, and tons of informative facts about space adorning the walls. There’s even a machine that you step onto which tells you how much you would weigh were you walking on another planet. (If ever I’m reincarnated I’m  coming back to live on Mars. I’m a stick thin supermodel according to this machine).  Your teenagers will also be happy to know, there is also a worthy Instagram opportunity where they can get a selfie in a space suit!


Teenagers will love the opportunity to take a selfie in a space suit!

This is worth a snap chat! Tessa in a real life space suit!

Alongside the exhibits and informative displays, is a gift area where you can buy something special to remind you of the planetarium. You can purchase special ‘space ice cream’ which I thought was a nice idea for those with younger children. Wait. What am I saying? My two were the first in the queue…

At 8 pm we were ushered into a massive dome (ice cream and all) which has huge comfortable racing car seats just waiting for you to sink into and relax. They are tilted backwards to take in the view of the  360-degree screen. No craning your necks here ladies. My teenagers were getting super excited now- throw a screen into the equation, and it has to be the perfect place for a night out!

360-degree screen at the Stardome Planetarium and observatory

At last! A chance to watch the screen in peace. A 360-degree screen will leave any teenager impressed!

What Can We Go & See at the Stardome Planetarium?

The Evening Sky programme which runs from Wednesday through to Sunday through out winter gives you the chance to see the stars, planets and constellations up close on the screen just as they would appear to you were you outside. The show has a live presenter who talks you through this journey into space, explaining the consolations that meet your eyes when you gaze up into the darkness. The whole experience was fascinating. Filled with high definition graphics, a superb sound system, you literally feel as though you are in space looking out of a rocket. You just need to find  Tom Hanks to be your co pilot.

The presentation takes an hour, and during this time the presenter encourages people to shout out questions to anything that they have ever been curious about. It was fascinating, relaxing and educational. Luckily for my teenagers, I didnt shout out, “Where’s Tom?”.

Once the show finishes, you are invited outside to the courtyard to get an up close view of the stars and planets in real life. This is made possible with the help of large telescopes. If by chance it’s raining or cloudy on the night that you choose to go, Stardome will offer you an invitation to return on a clear evening to view the sky through the courtyard telescope at no extra charge.

When the crisp Auckland air gets the better of you, or if like us, you are keen to see further into the heavens, for a few extra dollars you are invited to join a local astronomer to look through the large Zeiss Telescope. This is the Daddy of all telescopes. It stands in a circular shaped room at the top of the building which has a sliding roof that moves to the desired viewing position.

If this telescope doesn’t impress your teenagers, nothing will.  It is enormous and extremely powerful. The highlight of the evening must have been gazing up at Saturn with its rings and moons in full glory. You will find it breathtaking.

Our local astrologer was not only knowledgeable but passionate about astronomy. There was no time limit on being in the viewing room, so it all felt very relaxed and personal. I couldn’t think of a better way to learn about our night sky.

We left at about 10 pm, and all agreed that Stardome was a fantastic way to spend an evening. As a parent, it’s gratifying to know that not only have your kids had fun but that they’ve learned something new while doing it!

How Much is ths budget weekend in Auckland Going to Cost?

Parking is plentiful, you can park straight outside, and it’s free.

Tickets for a family are very reasonable. Especially since Stardome count a family as having  3 children.

  • Adult – $15
  • Child – $12
  • Family (2ads +  3ch) – $40

The special viewing through the super telescope at the end of the evening is a little extra but is something that should not be missed. If your budget allows, do it, you won’t be disappointed. You and your teenagers will be talking about this visit long after dark.

If you’re coming by bus,  routes 302 and 312 depart regularly from Queen Street,

To book tickets to the evening sky programme click here.

We would like to thank Stardome for very kindly offering us a complimentary family ticket.

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