Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve

Dark Sky Project is based in the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, the largest gold standard International Dark Sky Reserve in the world. This means we have access to some of the purest night skies in the world.

Dark Sky Project founders Graeme Murray and Hide Ozawa were part of those early conversations; their mission and our purpose as an organization is to advocate for the appreciation and preservation of our night sky, in the face of increasing light pollution.

On one particularly clear cold night, standing on the mountain alone because there had not been interest in a tour that night, Hide turned to Graeme exacerbated.

“You New Zealanders take your stars for granted,” he lamented. “You don’t appreciate the asset you have here in the night’s sky! If we had a sky like this in Japan, we would create a park to protect it.”

It was this comment that set the wheels in motion for a sequence of events Graeme calls ‘divine intervention’, which brought Dark Sky Project to where it is today. In 2011 the Aoraki Mackenzie Starlight Group, chaired and led by the Hon Margaret Austin, decided to seek International Dark Sky Reserve status and succeeded in 2012 with the establishment of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.

It is the largest Dark Sky Reserve in the world, and the first to achieve gold status in recognition of its pristine skies.

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View across Lake Tekapo to snowcapped mountains with milky way