Tekapo and the International Dark Sky Reserve
In the heart of the South Island in the Mackenzie Country is a 4,300-square-kilometre area which was declared the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve in 2012. Light pollution is strictly controlled in this area. The dark sky reserve is the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, and one of only eight in the world – which makes our wee village pretty special, we reckon.
The clarity of our skies had been a badly kept secret before its dark sky designation, as the US military used Mt John as a spy base for a number of years to track satellites.
Unique to the Mackenzie Region, the clear skies found in this part of the world are like nothing else in New Zealand. The night sky seems to stretch on and on, and it’s not unusual to see “shooting stars” and satellites zooming across the darkness. If you miss out on booking a star tour just “rug up,” find a dark spot away from lights and lay back and look up.
Booking a tour is highly recommended as seeing a tiny part of our universe through a telescope is an exceptional experience. Take the time to look up, study the galaxies and stars, and feel connected to the awesome story of our universe.
There are a number of ways to take a stargazing tour in the Mackenzie Region, with the added bonus of hot pools, or at an old US spy base, or with a private tour from your accommodation at Ranginui.
Stargazing Tour Operators:
- Dark Sky Project
- Tekapo Springs Stargazing
- Chameleon Stargazing
- Alpha Crux (private tours right here at Ranginui are available)
- Silver River Stargazing
Discover amazing constellations that can only be seen in the Southern Hemisphere, including the Southern Cross. Yet another reason to extend your stay in Tekapo.
Huge thanks to Grant Bisset for the beautiful photo.