New Zealand’s “Park in the Sky”


The Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo, New Zealand. Photo: Neil Gardner

The diverse New Zealand landscape is among the most beautiful in the world: pristine beaches, rolling green fields, awesome mountains. But residents in Tekapo aren’t so much concerned with what surrounds them on the ground, they’re much more interested in preserving what shines down from above.

The small South Island town of about 800 people is on a mission to receive UNESCO’s approval to become the first starlight reserve, an idea first generated four years ago. Locals have been darkening their Canterbury town since 1965, and have since restricted lighting use within a 19-mile radius of the town. Today residents use low-energy sodium streetlamps and household lamps that face down. Even the local skating rink installed special lighting that prevents ultraviolet rays from reflecting into the night sky, according to the Associated Press. The AP also reports that more than two-thirds of people in the U.S. and about one-fifth of the world’s population cannot see the Milky Way from their homes, a statistic that the folks of Tekapo hope to change.

For more places to see the night sky, check out other Dark Sky Destinations.

Photo: Neil Gardner


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  2. iscsi windows 2008 r2
    February 9, 2011, 5:04 am

    First place I take someone is Main Street to see the biggest baseball bat in the world at the Louisville Slugger museum.

  3. Bed and Breakfast Christchurch
    August 18, 2009, 8:34 pm

    I haven’t come across any updates yet on the project. I must say that its a good idea.

  4. Shailendra
    May 10, 2009, 5:36 pm

    I hope the town will get the status soon.
    Shail : Agra

  5. Carolina from colombia
    March 28, 2009, 12:05 am

    So wath is the news nos?. Are they going to help to preserve “the park in the sky”?

  6. Mohammad Zohaib Khan
    February 12, 2009, 4:54 pm

    Your blog is very nice & informative. I always appreciate your work. Thanks to the sharing.
    Mohammad Zohaib Khan from Atlanta

  7. Jeannette
    February 12, 2009, 4:02 pm

    Thanks for the tip, Caroline. Tekapo is hoping to be the first starlight reserve to achieve World Heritage status, something no other dark sky preserve has done!

  8. Caroline - Philadelphia
    February 12, 2009, 11:51 am

    Wait — Pennsylvania has a Dark Sky Preserve. Isn’t that the same thing?
    In the Pennsylvania Wilds, there is a Dark Sky Preserve at Cherry Springs State Park — the darkest nighttime skies.