Top 5 Stargazing Spots in NZ

We could list a thousand reasons why New Zealand should be your number 1 spot for stargazing, but instead we’ve narrowed it down a little… With plenty of remote locations and limited light pollution, there’s no shortage of glittering constellations to be found here.

Here are our top 5 picks when it comes to stargazing in the Southern Hemisphere:

1) Mt Cook

For a star-studded experience, Mount Cook well and truly delivers the goods. You can head out with your friends after dark, lie on the ground and race to spot the first shooting star! Or if you’d prefer to make sense of all the constellations, planets and galaxies then you can book a tour with Big Sky Stargazing. Astronomy guides will be there to show you the ropes and put your newfound knowledge to the test by identifying different elements of the spectacular night sky.

Low light pollution makes for perfect pictures

2) Tekapo

The stars at Lake Tekapo are incredible from just about anywhere, but the view from the top of St John’s observatory is definitely one of the best spots. This research facility does everything in its power to keep light production to a minimum, which means that the scenes are nothing short of mind blowing. Spend the evening looking through giant telescopes and exploring the observatory domes – you’ll be pointing out notable constellations in no time!

Admiring the backdrop behind the Church of the Good Shepherd

Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo are both locations within the ‘Dark Sky Reserve’ recognised by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) as having some of the darkest skies in the world! The displays here are truly magical and take stargazing to a whole new level.

3) Abel Tasman

After a long day’s sailing, kayaking and hiking you’ll probably be more than ready for a good night’s sleep… just don’t forget to look up before you get too cosy in bed! On a clear night, Abel Tasman is home to some great starlight photo ops. Can you think of a more picturesque stargazing setting than on these golden sand beaches?

Not to be missed!

4) Blue Duck Station

Situated amongst stunning New Zealand native bush, Blue Duck Station is one of our ‘Strademark’ stops that you just can’t miss when it comes to stargazing. Grab your crew (and some layers!) and gear up to observe the Milky Way from Whakahoro’s finest outdoor playground.

Blue Duck Station under the stars
Leftie’s bus under the Blue Duck stars! Credit: Joe Strudwick

5) Gunn’s Camp

Another incredible Stray stop located in the Hollyford Valley in Fjordland National Park, Gunn’s Camp is the perfect place to kick back, relax and enjoy some peace and quiet. Well and truly off the beaten track, you won’t need to worry about city light pollution interfering with your view since the power generator is turned off at 10pm! Who needs Netflix when you’ve got these skies to watch?

It pays to get further off the beaten track!

Here are some incredible stargazing shots taken by our very own Stray passengers:

Abel Tasman – By David Huynh
Stray Mates under the stars – By Marcus Saarloos
Blue Duck Station – By Ollie Buchanan
Gunns Camp – By Manuel Schmidt

Whether you’re a budding astronomer, night sky photographer or just keen to soak up these once-in-a-lifetime views with good company, you can find plenty of perfect stargazing locations on our Stray route. Check out some of our bus passes here.


Tara

Originally from Birmingham, UK. Favourite Stray stop: Tongariro National Park. Fun fact: she has done every Bungy Jump in New Zealand.

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