New Zealand is known for its clean and green environment. There is little pollution, which means that we have some of the best visibility of a starry night. There are also dark sky sanctuaries located throughout the country, so we set out to find some of the best stargazing spots in New Zealand. Here’s what we discovered during our campervan hire in New Zealand:
Ahh, the Mackenzie Region. This is a destination we love to travel to in our campervan hire in New Zealand, year-round. Not only does it hold some of the most spectacular sights during the daytime, it was also declared a International Dark Sky Reserve. Light pollution is now strictly controlled in the area to maintain its reserve, and it is only one of eight in the world.
The Mackenzie region is located in the heart of the South Island, and in 2012, the area was recognised for its sky and declared the ‘Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve’. With some of the best stargazing in New Zealand, you will see incredible stars, galaxies and constellations including the Milky Way.
Great Barrier Island
You can find Great Barrier Island, otherwise known as Aotea, on the edge of the Hauraki Gulf. The Island is a dark sky sanctuary, committed to protecting the night sky.
Normally, dark sky sanctuaries are found in remote areas, and not quite so close to large cities such as Auckland. However, due to the islands small number of residents and off-the-grid location, there is almost no light pollution, which is truly incredible!
Pack a blanket and be in for a night of some of the most incredible stargazing in New Zealand. See the Milky Way which reaches across the Southern Hemisphere and the Magellanic Clouds. A spectacular sight for all!
For little light pollution and great conditions, journey down south to Stewart Island in your campervan hire. During the winter months, keen stargazers may have the opportunity to witness the Southern Lights or the Aurora Australis. Maximise your chances by viewing on a clear winter’s night or when it is close to a new moon.
If you’re travelling New Zealand during the winter months, this is a great time to celebrate Matariki, the Māori New Year. Matariki is the Māori name for a group of stars called Pleiades, and means the ‘eyes of god’.
The Mataraki stars will appear during June and July, and according to the Māori lunar calendar, it’s time to welcome in a new year! So, not only is this a great time for stargazing in New Zealand, it an incredible celebration of Māori culture.
New Zealand’s brightest lights
We hope that our guide will help you to uncover some of New Zealand’s most breathtaking stargazing. So, make the most of these dark skies and clear moments on your journey – enjoy!