Great Barrier Island gains international dark sky status

Great Barrier Island, off the north-eastern coast of Auckland, has become the first island in the world to be designated an International Dark Sky Sanctuary.

Great Barrier Island (credit: Mark Russell)

Located 100km north-east of central Auckland, Great Barrier Island’s night skies will now be protected for present and future generations.

Great Barrier Island becomes the first island and only the third place in the world to achieve this status. The other two sanctuaries are in New Mexico (US) and Chile.

A Dark Sky Sanctuary is public or private land that has an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is protected for its scientific, natural or educational value, cultural heritage and/or public enjoyment.

With much of Great Barrier Island ’off the grid’, light pollution is minimised on the island, allowing for great viewing of the spectacular night sky.

The island is accessible by air from Auckland, Coromandel, Northland, Tauranga and Hamilton, or by ferry from Auckland’s downtown waterfront. 

Great Barrier Island joins the Aoraki Mackenzie in the central South Island as a leading New Zealand astro-tourism destination. Aoraki Mackenzie is an International Dark Sky Reserve and must-do tourism experience for international visitors to New zealand. Now with two recognised dark sky areas, New Zealand has become a bucket list destination for astronomers and lovers of the night sky. 

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