Congratulations to Kawarau Gibbston which just became an International Dark Sky Park (IDSP)

The newest New Zealand Dark Sky Park was just announced - is 25 square kilometres and is located between Queenstown and Cromwell.
Picture of Haritina
Haritina

May 11, 2024

The Kawarau Gibbston area in the Queenstown-Lakes District of Otago, New Zealand, has been designated as an International Dark Sky Park (IDSP) by DarkSky International. The announcement was made on the 8th of May. This certification marks it as the ninth International Dark Sky Place in New Zealand and the first in the Queenstown Lakes District. The park covers 25 square kilometres, including the Gibbston Character Zone and the Gibbston Valley Resort Zone, and is located between Queenstown and Cromwell.

Featured photo is provided by the Dark Sky International

The area, known for its viticulture and tourism offerings, has 280 residents. It is particularly noted for its dark skies that allow clear views of celestial features like the Milky Way, Magellanic Clouds, and the Aurora Australis. The Dark Sky Places Program, which began in 2001, aims to protect such sites from light pollution through community-supported lighting policies and public education.

The certification process was driven by the Gibbston Community Association with wide community support and aligns with local strategies to preserve the night sky. This new status is expected to boost astro-tourism and economic diversification in the region, complementing its existing tourism activities like bungy jumping and e-bike tours. Regular public events related to astronomy are planned, enhancing cultural connections, including the celebration of Matariki.

Professor Brian Boyle (GCA Dark Sky lead) notes that next steps will include looking to expand the dark sky status into the Remarkables and Pisa conservation areas, as well as the neighbouring communities including Cardrona, Bannockburn, and Lowburn. 

The initiative is part of a broader effort by DarkSky International to encourage environmentally responsible outdoor lighting to conserve dark sites globally.

Read more

https://darksky.org/news/kawarau-gibbston-becomes-the-ninth-international-dark-sky-place-in-aotearoa-new-zealand

https://darksky.org/places/kawarau-gibbston-dark-sky-park

The Remarkables from Queenstown. Photo @starsafarinz
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