Our Story 

Dark Sky Project's story is one of passion, determination and collaboration. From humble beginnings operating from a small caravan, we are now proud to be regarded as leaders in astro-tourism and advocates for dark sky preservation.

Founded in 2004 by Takapō locals and night sky enthusiasts Graeme Murray and Hide Ozawa, we have grown from a modest start to now host over 40,000 manuhiri (visitors) each year on a range of exclusive stargazing experiences.



Our founders, Hide Ozawa and Graeme Murray, were instrumental in managing the installation of the 1.8m MOA (Micro-lensing Observations in Astrophysics) telescope at the Mount John Observatory on behalf of Nagoya University in Japan. As a recognition of their work, they were given the right to host exclusive tourism experiences at the summit of Mount John.
The impressive telescope is the largest in New Zealand, and 15 years later, continues to play an important role in world leading astronomical research.


Longtime champions of night sky appreciation and preservation, Graeme and Hide were early advocates to formally recognize and protect the skies of the region. The area was awarded Dark Sky Reserve status in June 2012 and today remains the world's first gold status and as well as the largest Dark Sky Reserve in the world.


Our new astronomy centre on the Takapō lakefront, with partners Ngāi Tahu Tourism was opened. At this same time, we launched our new name, Dark Sky Project (formerly known as Earth & Sky). Boasting a state-of-the-art multimedia daytime astronomy experience, an impressive 125 year old Brashear telescope, and many other astronomical offerings, the centre is proudly a home for astronomy and stargazing in the region.


Our success to date is due to the collective efforts of so many including the University of Canterbury, the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve Board, the International Dark Sky Association, the Mackenzie District Council and the Brian Mason Trust, to name just a small few. We are extremely grateful to all of our partners and the generous organizations and people who have helped us along the way.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, we say it takes a village to protect the stars.

The Brashear Telescope 

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