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What is an International Dark Sky Reserve and what is it for?

The International Dark-Sky Association works to protect the night skies for present and future generations.

The International Dark Sky Places conservation program recognizes and promotes excellent stewardship of the night sky.

An IDA International Dark Sky Reserve is a public or private land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and/or public enjoyment. Reserves consist of a core area meeting minimum criteria for sky quality and natural darkness, and a peripheral area that supports dark sky preservation in the core. Reserves are formed through a partnership of multiple land managers who have recognized the value of the natural nighttime environment through regulations and long-term planning.

Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve


The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve is comprised of Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park and the Mackenzie Basin of New Zealand’s South island. Outdoor lighting controls were first put into place in the area during the early 1980s. They have not only helped minimize light pollution for the nearby Mt. John Observatory, but also conserve energy, protect wildlife and make the area a popular stargazing destination for tourists.

The natural night has played a critical role in the areaʼs history as its first residents, the Maori, not only used the night sky to navigate to the island but also integrated astronomy and star lore into their culture and daily lives. The reserve seeks to honor that history by keeping the night sky a protected and integral part of the areaʼs natural and cultural landscape. It is a perfect place to protect and honor those traditions as the reserveʼs Mackenzie Basin has the clearest, darkest and the most spectacular night sky in New Zealand.

More info at

Wairepo Arm Pond Astro Autmn Stars 2019
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